We love the 4th of July as much as the next American but unfortunately, it's not always as enjoyable for our cats. This topic seems to have gotten attention in recent years, and we've seen a lot of social media posts about how fireworks can impact the health and wellbeing of our kitties.
As any cat lover will tell you, cats can be aloof, so it can be harder to recognize signs that your cat is distressed. For that reason, it is up to you to be proactive about protecting your cat and providing a safe environment for them during our favorite summer holiday.
Cats can be very sensitive to loud noises due to the way their ear anatomy is designed to contract and protect the inner ear.
Fireworks in particular can be damaging because they occur too quickly for a cat's ear to process the sound as designed, which leaves the inner ear vulnerable to the loud noise. Fireworks are disorienting and alarming which will cause stress and in the worst-case scenario, potential noise trauma which can lead to temporary or permanent hearing loss.
But not to worry! We're here to ensure your cat can enjoy a smooth Fourth of July.
Behaviors to Watch Out For
We've probably all had times where our cat has disappeared to their favorite corner of the house and you haven't seen them in a few hours. A lot of cats (like some of ours!) enjoy alone time, and this might not be anything out of the ordinary. However, it can also be a sign they are in distress, especially if there are new noises or changes in their environment. If there is a firework show nearby, chances are your cat isn't hiding just for fun this time.
Extra Affection/Outgoing Behavior
On the flip side, some cats get clingy when they're stressed out. They could be showing extra affection, purring loudly, wanting to cuddle, or not leaving your side as you move around the house. Perhaps they are more vocal with you than usual and you aren't totally sure why. This behavior can be really cute, but if it seems alarming or out of the ordinary, then your cat is probably trying to tell you something.
Eating Patterns/Digestive Issues
Anything that seems out of the norm for your cat is likely due to stressors in their environments. Skipping normally regulated mealtimes, demonstrating digestive issues, or even urinating outside the litter box could all be signs that your cat isn't too jazzed about a recent change.
A LOT of Grooming
If your cat seems to be licking a lot or obsessively grooming, it could be signs of anxiety and stress. You'll want to take note if your cat's grooming seems a little more aggressive or occurs more often than usual.
Now, let's dive into some tips to have a safe and happy 4th of July for both you and your kitties!
Set up a nice and cozy "safe space" for your cat
This might seem obvious, but as we mentioned above, a lot of cats have a favorite room or safe space nestled somewhere strategic. Set up your cat's safe space before the fireworks begin so your cat can retreat there when they start. Make the space comfortable: blankets, favorite chairs, scratching pads, and preferred toys can all help with kitty self-care and to keep them distracted from the explosions of fire in the sky.
If you let your house tigers prowl in the great outdoors, we recommend bringing them inside for a few days until the fireworks calm down, which usually happens by July 6th. Nothing would be worse than having kitty bolt out of fear down the street and not come back for a few days, weeks, or - god forbid - never.
Play some white noise or other ear-friendly soothing sounds
In your cat's safe space, it could actually be really beneficial to play some white noise.3 Not only could it help drown out the firework crackling sound, but if could help soothe too. There are a lot of free white noise apps that you can use, and if not, you could always try playing some Enya, Bach, or whichever beep boop ambient playlist is trending on Spotify.
Talk to your vet before the fourth about your cat's anxiety
If you have a particularly anxious cat (join the club!), and you're worried about fireworks or other loud party-type noises, we recommend consulting your vet before these events roll around. Your vet could prescribe your kitty some mild sedatives, or you could take a more natural approach with feline CBD or chamomile, just to name a few.
Stay home with your cat if you can, and if not, book a sitter
Imagine being at home alone with no WiFi, TV, or any knowledge of what is going on outside. And then it sounds as if you're being bombed and the world is quickly coming to an end. We can only imagine what goes on inside your cat's head when the fireworks start but the stress and anxiety can easily be compounded if the familiar humans are not around.
For those house tigers who are stage 5 clingers or scaredy cats when changes occur in their environment, we recommend booking a care provider when you're away, especially for a noisy and rambunctious holiday like the fourth of July. It's not uncommon for cats to be impossible to find on the morning of July 5th, and we've even heard a case where the kitty was so spooked that it managed to jump out of the 5-foot high bathroom window in an attempt to find peace and calm in the garden. Keep the house locked tight and get your kitty's safe space set up so there are no surprises (or heart attacks) the morning after.
Stay calm: Inhale, Exhale
Try not to be too excitable during the fireworks show or at 4th of July parties. Your cat may be looking to you as a source of comfort, and if you were staying calm then it would reinforce that there is no danger. If you have people over at your house, try to maintain a more relaxed environment, rather than a loud and boisterous party. If your cat is stressed out, it will probably make matters worse if others in the house are being loud.
Keep a routine leading up to and after the event
We all know fireworks aren't usually a "one and done" type of event. They could be happening the entire week that the fourth falls on, maybe even longer if you have some particularly patriotic and rowdy neighbors, so it is important to maintain a routine with your cat. Don't feed your cat any food you wouldn't normally (including classic 4th foods like hotdogs!), try to keep meal schedules in place, and don't take your cat anywhere out of the ordinary.
Seek professional help if you're worried
If your cat begins to show discomfort, perhaps scratching at or rubbing at its ears, or you notice some redness or discharge around your cat's ears, it may be time to seek the help or advice of your veterinarian. This could be a sign of a ruptured eardrum or other hearing/ear related issues. Other signs to look out for include loss of balance, stumbling, change of gait or eating patterns, and shaking of the head. If your cat seems more anxious than normal, this also might be something you want to bring up with your veterinarian.
At the end of the day, you know your cat better than anyone else, and you know the specific soothing techniques that work for your furbaby. Each cat is different, so don't feel paranoid for thinking your cat may be acting out of the ordinary: it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Be on high alert for signs that your cat may be stressed around the 4th of July and take extra precaution. Meowtel is committed to helping your cat live its best life so if you are traveling around the holiday, we recommend booking one of our many sitters who can provide the purrfect hospitality to your little one!