Bonfire Night Advice for Cats

Fireworks can cause anxiety and stress for cats

Created: 17/10/2018 Updated: 04/08/2021 - Shelley Audis-Riddell

autumn advice, behaviour, Behaviour & Training, bonfire night, cats, halloween, Health & Wellbeing, stress and anxiety

Bonfire night can be worrying and stressful for pets. Fireworks at this time of year can go on for several weeks before and after November 5th and this stress can have serious implications for our pets, affecting both health and behaviour, especially if experienced over long periods of time. If your pet becomes stressed during firework season, the following advice may help you to make your pet feel more safe and secure.

Signs of stress in cats

  • Hiding in high places

  • Hiding in dark places

  • Running away

  • House soiling

  • Refusing to eat

  • Increased aggression

  • Salivating

Orange tabby cat wrapped up in grey blanket

How to help your cat

  • If your cat enjoys going outside, make sure they are back indoors before dark. This is for their safety. The unpredictable nature of fireworks could mean one landing in a tree your cat is has climbed, or flying sparks could injure them.

  • The sights and sounds of fireworks can also be frightening, so do make sure they are safe inside.

  • Put some background noise on, such as the TV or radio. Playing music with a strong beat can reduce your cat's worry over loud and unpredictable bangs from fireworks.

  • Allow your cat to rest where it feels really safe. This may be under your bed, under the table, down the side of the sofa, or under your legs. Putting your cat's bed here will make it more comfortable for them.

  • Close all windows, cat flaps, vents, curtains and connecting doors in the house to help drown out the sights and sounds of fireworks.

  • Don't pick up or restrain your cat if they appear stressed. Cats appreciate a quiet space to deal with their stress on their own.

  • If your cat does come to you for comfort and reassurance, it's fine to give them this.

  • Cats naturally like to climb and hide at different levels in their environment. This meets their instinctive needs and makes them feel safe. Take a look around your home and see what different levels you can provide for your cat to express this behaviour during bonfire season.

  • Do not leave your cat at home alone on bonfire night. They will feel more relaxed and secure with you around.

  • During the bonfire season your cat may be less inclined to go outside. You may need to introduce a litter tray into the house. See our 'Cats Living with Stress' blog for advice on litter tray numbers and size.

  • Beaphar Calming Tablets has been designed to help alleviate nervousness.

  • Behavioural therapy can also teach your cat to cope with the unpredictability of fireworks using reward based desensitisation of the noises. It can take many months of work with your cat to alter their behaviour to the noises, but long-term this will make your cat a happier pet during this difficult time of year. For more information try speaking to a qualified behaviourist who will be able to work through the process with you and your cat.

Do you need further advice?

If you need any further advice, please contact the OSCAR Helpline Team on our freephone number 0800 195 8000 or email helpline@oscars.co.uk.