Independence Day is a time for summer fun, cookouts, and of course, fireworks. But did you know that reports of lost pets increase by 30% during and just after the holiday? And of those pets reported missing, fewer than 15% are typically reunited with their owners. This includes dogs and cats.
Don’t let your cat become a statistic. There are some simple steps you can take to help ensure that your feline friends have a safe holiday weekend.
Summer Holiday Safety Tips For Cats
As cat lovers, we all want our pets to live long and healthy lives. Yet activities on our “fun list” present real risks to pets. Let’s look at a few ways you can keep your cat safe.
- Keep outdoor cats away from drowning hazards. Gating your in-ground pool can greatly reduce the risk for accidental drowning. Also, note that pools with steps allow a pet in trouble to escape, whereas those with only ladders do not.
- Keep cats indoors during fireworks displays. Cats have sensitive hearing, and loud booming fireworks can be terrifying and irritating. By giving your feline friends a place to hide (like a box with a favorite blanket) they’re more likely to stay clear of danger. Also, keep sparklers, pokers, and other potentially hazardous objects away from cats.
- Secure possible escape routes. A panicked cat may run blindly away from a frightening sound, and may find itself far from home. Lost pet reports spike during July 4th holiday, so be sure your cats can’t slip out unnoticed. Some cats feel calmer when crated during loud parties.
- Leaving cats at home while you’re away? Be sure they have ample food and fresh water available, as well as access to clean litter. If you plan to be away for more than two days, you may want to have a friend or family member check on your cats. Be sure that the temperature in your home does not exceed 80 degrees while you’re away.
- Traveling with your cat? Select an appropriate travel crate for your pet. Never leave a cat unattended in a hot car. Also, if you’re going to be on the road more than 2 hours, schedule stops and snack and litter breaks for your cat. And always have your pet’s tags up to date before you leave.
- Microchip your pet. Microchipping is a safe, painless, and inexpensive way to help prevent loss. Your vet implants a chip between your pet’s shoulders. The chip contains data including your contact information. Pets with microchips are 75% more likely to be reunited with their owners, compared with unchipped animals.
During a break in the festivities, check on your pets. Some animals can become very stressed by unexpected sounds and flashes of light. A moment’s comfort from you can help reassure them that they’re safe.
Reducing Cat Anxiety
Some cats can become extremely stressed by unfamiliar sights and sounds. Even calm cats can be rattled by fireworks. So what’s the best way to recognize the signs of stress in your pet? Here are some things to look for…
- Hiding—a stressed cat will “cave up” or hide when overstimulated
- Skittishness—while all cats are to some degree skittish, anxiety can worsen the situation
- Panting—panting is a common feline response to stress
- Rapid heart rate—as in humans, a racing heart is a sign of panic
- Loss of appetite—a stressed cat will typically refuse food
- Toileting issues— cats may express anxiety or displeasure by toileting outside the pan
Fortunately there are a few things you can do to help calm your pet, such as:
- Provide a safe and comfortable hiding spot
- Include a favorite blanket or piece of clothing
- Try a diffuser to add a calming scent to your pet’s environment
- Pheromone collars also offer calming aromas that travel with your pet
- A weighted thunder shirt can help a nervous cat feel secure
- Ask your vet about sedatives–some cats with severe anxiety may benefit from being sedated during stressful events
- Read more tips for calming an anxious cat
If your pet’s symptoms do not resolve with time, or if episodes of anxiety become more severe, contact your vet.
Want to include your cat in the holiday fun? Here are a few things you can try.
- Give your cat a special treat. These days cat treats come in all shapes and flavors. Give your pet a cat-safe treat to mark the day.
- New toys brighten any pet’s day. Why not give your pet a safe distraction with a catnip mouse or a treat puzzle toy.
- Bringing your pet along? Remember to have all your cat’s identification and vaccinations up to date.
Pet ownership is a responsibility that lasts a lifetime—your pet’s lifetime. So when we’re celebrating July 4th, let’s remember the ones who give us unconditional love daily. We urge you to keep your pets away from potential hazards, and to put their welfare first.
We hope you find the above tips useful. And have a fantastic holiday weekend!