Felines and fireworks

Photo courtesy Furry Friends
Photo courtesy Furry Friends

Best-selling author Nomi Berger offers tips for cat owners to care for their pets during fireworks season

Nomi Berger
For Clark County Today

National holidays, while celebrated by people, aren’t always cause for celebration by our cats. For them, a holiday like the Fourth of July means one thing: fireworks. Or simply put: NOISES, LOUD and SUDDEN noises.

Fortunately there are various ways to deal with your kitty’s paw-tential distress both before and after the fireworks have begun.

Photo courtesy Furry Friends
Photo courtesy Furry Friends

Keep your cat indoors on the day of the fireworks — especially those allowed outside for brief periods of time. Since she may attempt to slip outside or even bolt in terror because of the flashes and sounds, take extra care when opening and closing all exterior doors. But if the unthinkable happens and she does escape, for your peace of mind and her ultimate safety, have her micro-chipped.

Forego the pleasure of leaving to watch the fireworks yourself, and stay home. Even if your cat hides or refuses to interact with you, she’s far better off with you there than being left on her own.

Close all windows and draw all curtains and blinds to help buffer the sounds and dim the unsettling flashes of light.

Photo courtesy Furry Friends
Photo courtesy Furry Friends

Provide your cat with a “safe” room equipped with several cozy hiding places, a litter box and a water bowl, and settle her in there before the fireworks start. If she’s especially fearful, create a tunnel to the litter box or use one you already have to keep her from feeling too exposed. An alternative is to purchase a specially designed “cave-style” bed for her to curl up in.

Set up a Feliway diffuser in her “safe” room. It contains synthetic feline facial pheromones that are said to have a calming and comforting effect on cats.

Turn on the TV or play music to create a noise distraction. Choose music (classical is best) that is soothing and play it at a comfortable volume. Don’t attempt to drown out the fireworks by upping the volume because it’s not only the sudden, loud bangs that frighten your cat but the whizzing and whistling sounds accompanying them as well.

Try to distract your cat by using a fishing pole-type toy to engage her in playtime or set out several tempting food-puzzle toys to whet her appetite and curiosity.

Photo courtesy Furry Friends
Photo courtesy Furry Friends

While some cats may find comfort in their solitude, others may crawl into your lap and bury their heads in the crook of your arm to be petted and stroked. What’s important, however, is to respect

your own kitty’s preference, thus allowing her to be comforted the way SHE wants to be comforted.

Never give your cat any of your own anti-anxiety medications! Consult your vet, who may recommend an OTC supplement such as Zylkene (it works best if begun several days beforehand) or prescribe an anti-anxiety medication for your fearful feline.

But, whichever path you choose, follow it with kindness, patience and love. Think back to the sounds that may have frightened YOU as a child, and you’ll know just how your purr-ecious pet feels.

Who is Furry Friends?

Furry Friends is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit no-kill cat shelter rescue serving Clark County, Washington and adjacent counties. Founded in 1999, we are a volunteer run organization that rescues and adopts out homeless, relinquished, and abused cats. We shelter and care for them as long as it takes to find them forever homes. We provide medical exams, medications, spay/neuter, food, and litter for up to 600 cats each year. Furry Friends is the largest cat only shelter in southwest Washington.

How Furry Friends is funded

Furry Friends depends almost entirely on business sponsorship and private donations to fund an annual operating budget of $350,000. Our major fundraising event is the annual dinner and auction to be held in September each year.

How you can help

Furry Friends gratefully accepts donations of both money and in-kind goods and services such as pet food, cleaning supplies, medications, and litter. We are always looking for reliable, dedicated volunteers to help us fulfill our mission.

Mission Statement

To care for homeless, relinquished and abused cats by

• Spaying or Neutering;

• Providing medical care and foster placement until permanent, loving homes are found;

• Educating the public regarding the care and responsibility of cat ownership;

• Collaborating with other pet rescue and companion groups to accomplish a no-kill status in the state of Washington; and

Visit the Furry Friends website at www.furryfriendswa.org or contact them at information@furryfriendswa.org or leave a message at (360) 993-1097.

About Nomi Burger

Nomi Berger is the bestselling author of seven novels, one work of nonfiction, two volumes of poetry, and hundreds of articles. She is a volunteer writer for Furry Friends in Vancouver and also volunteers her writing skills to animal rescue groups in Canada and the USA.

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