Halloween and fireworks… then Christmas — take the stress out the seasons

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28 September 2021
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The latter part of the year is full of festivities and events. While they are certainly times to be enjoyed, we must remember that these times can be stressful for our cats — but they don’t have to be. By thinking ahead, you can take the stress out of the seasons for your feline friend.

If you’ve got a canine companion too, Your Dog has you covered with the best advice to help keep your pup calm during this period.

 

In the run up

Before we reach any of the events, you can start laying the foundations for keeping your cat calm:

  • Create a feline safe space — your cat will appreciate having somewhere to retreat to, away from the noise and other people. Make sure you pick somewhere that is quiet (away from the front door and busy areas of the house) and a spot that you won’t have to change during Christmas. You don’t want your cat to learn this is their haven and then take it away. Ensure this space includes all their vital resources including litter tray, food and water bowls, toys, and places to hide away.
  • Calming products — there are a whole host of calming products that can help pets. These include calming pheromone diffusers, supplements, collars, and spot ons. Always ensure they are reputable products (if in doubt check with your vet). These can be really effective but often you will need to start using these well in advance of the event to build up the positive impact. Check the instructions on the products and begin a consistent routine of using them.
  • Plan ahead — prepare for trick or treaters (nowadays in many neighbourhoods, children will only visit houses that display pumpkins or signs welcoming trick or treaters so it could be an idea to politely deter visitors), find out when local fireworks displays are, and plan your family activities for Christmas. Knowing what to expect you can create the best environment for your cat to be calm.
  • Seek expert help — if your cat really struggles, it could be worth visiting your vet to discuss your cat’s issues. You may be referred to a qualified animal behaviourist who will be able to help on a one-to-one basis.
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During the events

Protect your cat at Halloween

It is the spookiest time of year. Here’s how you can help to keep your cat calm: 

  • Keep them inside — Protect your cats from any possible harm by keeping your cat safe in his home.
  • Keep them happy — You can also try giving your cat treats to make him feel calmer about being stuck inside. Don’t force your cat to cuddle you if he’s clearly feeling scared, and try to treat your cat as you normally would, by just spending some quality time together.
  • Trick or Treat? — Never force your cat to wear a costume that they are not comfortable in). Plus, make a conscious effort to be cautious when opening the door to any trick or treaters, just in case your cat tries to make a run for the outside.
  • Hide sweets — Make sure to keep kitty away from any sweet treats.
  • Be careful of lit pumpkins — Never leave your cat unattended with a lit candle, even when it is inside a pumpkin.
  • The doorbell — If your cat gets worked up by the sound of the doorbell, Halloween can become a tricky time for both you and your furry friend. To support them through this, it’s best to keep them in the room furthest away from the front door if possible, or let them hide away wherever they feel safe, and don’t try and tempt them out from hiding.
  • Halloween party — If you plan on having a Halloween party at your home, you may want to consider putting your cat in a confined room that no one will access.

Keep cats calm during fireworks

  • Before fireworks season begins, get your pet microchipped and, if they already are, check your contact details are up to date. This gives you the best chance of being reunited with your cat if they become spooked and get lost.
  • Make sure your cat stays inside at night during firework season. Block off cat flaps to stop them from getting outside and to help muffle the sound of bangs and zips.
  • You can help to block out the noise of fireworks by switching on the TV or radio, if your cat is already used to the sound, but make sure it’s not too loud. Closing the curtains or blacking out windows will help to block out the sight of bright flashes.
  • Let your cat pace around inside your home and meow if they want to. If your cat finds a den to hide in (they can use their safe space), for example under the bed, don’t try to coax them out your cat is trying to find safety and shouldn’t be disturbed.
  • Try to avoid leaving your pet alone during such potentially upsetting events. If you do have to leave the house, don’t get upset with your cat if they have toileted after being left on their own.
  • Buy them a well-deserved treat for them to focus on instead, such as a fishing rod toy or catnip mouse, which can be a great distraction from the noise of fireworks.
  • If your cat wants to play, this is a good way or distracting him.
  • Use a pheromone plug-in diffuser — you simply plug them in where your cat spends the majority of its time (your living room, for example) and the pheromones help to soothe your cat during stressful times. Try using it a couple of weeks before firework season begins to see if it makes a difference.

Keep cats calm at Christmas

Christmas is slightly different to Halloween and fireworks as this is much more under your control. Plan ahead and make sure — whatever your plans are for Christmas — that your cat is considered.

  • Retain your cat’s safe space — make sure that your cat always has their own place to retreat too, if it all gets too much, this will be a welcome sanctuary.
  • Consider how your cat will react to visitors — you may need to brief visitors on how to handle interactions with your cat.
  • Try to maintain your cat’s routine — while the usual timetable goes out the window, try to keep your cat’s day as normal as possible with feeding times and play sessions.
  • Keep harmful treats out the way — there is an abundance of sweets, chocolate, and plants poisonous to cats about at Christmas. Ensure they are out of reach of your cat.
  • Don’t forget your cat! — make time to play and cuddly with your cat, whatever is part of your usual routine.

Keep your cat calm with the Beaphar CatComfort® calming range.

Got a canine companion?

Find out how to keep your dog calm during this hectic period with the best advice from Your Dog Magazine.