Pet Connections

Independence Day for Us, Our Cats Not So Much By Bernadette Kazmarski

Fireworks aren’t the only thing that can make cats uncomfortable on Independence Day—keep them in mind when preparing for any home event including foods, decorations, and summertime traditions, like grilling. Much of this information also applies to dogs and other pets as well.


It’s not just one fireworks display, it’s also the prevalence of fireworks around the date that builds up stress over time. Being near fireworks can be uncomfortable for us humans, but even at a distance they take their toll on our cats’ highly sensitive ears and can leave them extremely stressed, confused and irritable. In time any noise might frighten them.

I keep a close eye on and do my best to prepare my household of rescued and foster cats. My community hosts its 4th of July celebration on July 3, so that adds an extra day to the fireworks noise, and then my neighbors extend the celebration beginning with Memorial Day. I live six miles from downtown Pittsburgh and there are fireworks over the river for Independence Day and other events. Even at that distance they are still close enough that the deep concussion of the sound has all the cats awake and some heading to the basement or under the bed, or just standing round-eyed at attention.

The unexpected and unexplained noises day and night leading up to the big day adds up for cats. I’m helping a woman foster feral kittens we trapped, spaying and returning their mother. Her neighbors shoot off fireworks at will, and over time one of the kittens was traumatized by the noise. On New Year’s Eve the bombardment frightened him to the point he managed to scratch open a small access door into a wall, and for a couple of months would only come out when no one was around and eluded the trap we put in the room. We needed medication to get him over the trauma, and practically had to start again from the beginning with socialization, if we can get him to the point he’s adoptable.

Be careful with a traumatized cat

When cats are that traumatized, they will often act completely out of character from the stress, so be extra careful when approaching and handling them. A cat who has shown no interest in the outdoors might feel trapped inside and unable to get away from the noise and run out the door, or injure itself in its haste to hide indoors. Even the most socialized cat, startled by a loud noise very near and feeling the need to run and hide, might struggle in being held and even scratch and bite. Approach your pet in a way that respects their condition and use a few of the tips below to help ease their trauma.

Check for frightened cats before you open a door. Check your screens to make sure they are sound and can’t easily be pushed out of the window.

Preparing for the holiday

  1. In part, preparing your cat for this holiday is not unlike preparing for an emergency just in case it really does get frightened and run. Make sure your cat has ID, such as a microchip and maybe a collar with tags, so they are quickly and easily identifiable. Take a good photo of your cat just in case you need to make lost pet signs.
  2. Consider giving your cat a safe room with places to hide in, like under the bed or in a closet. On the night of the 4th while fireworks are blasting all around you, the safe room can be dark and closed off to the outside with soft music or comforting sounds to cushion the noise. You can even add calming pheromones and some fun food or treats to help them feel more comfortable.
  3. Watch for changes in behavior such as lack of appetite, excessive vocalizing, pacing or aggressiveness, and don’t discipline them when they act out of fear.
  4. Before your celebration, or before you leave for your celebration, have your cat in its safe room and play with it to help ease its stress, turning on the noise cushion. If you have guests, let them know your cat should not be able to go outdoors or that your cat should stay in the safe room.

Other holiday dangers

In addition to loud unexpected noises, also keep your cat protected from:

  • hot grills
  • matches and lighter fluid
  • alcoholic drinks
  • sunscreen
  • insect repellent not intended for pets
  • citronella liquid or candles
  • fire pits and anything else that has flames
  • the contents of firecrackers, fireworks, and most other pyrotechnics—and don’t forget to clean up the residue from anywhere your pets might encounter it
  • glow sticks—the contents are toxic, and the plastic can be easily chewed
  • balloons, garlands, and ribbon

Take a look around for any part of the holiday we take for granted but which may put your cat in the path of danger. Keep your cat away from your own holiday fun, especially at night outdoors when it’s hard to see what they are up to.

And remember other animals

Just take a moment to think about the wildlife that may be in your vicinity, wild parents with their young who may also be frightened by loud noises especially when many fireworks celebrations are set off in parks, which are homes for many of our most familiar species.

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Reference sites: Top Ten Fourth of July Pet Safety Tips Fourth of July Safety Tips 4th of July Cat Safety Tips 7 Simple Tips to Keep Your Cat Safe on Independence Day


December 14, 2023
December 14, 2023


December 14, 2023
December 14, 2023