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Cat Calming Tips and Advice for Bonfire Night and Halloween

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Halloween and Bonfire Night can be great fun for the family, but unfamiliar sights and unpredictable sounds can make this time of year far from fun for our family pets.

Even the most confident of pets can become anxious when they hear trick-or-treaters banging at the door or the fizz, whistle and bang of fireworks outside. These unusual sights and sounds aren’t an issue for every pet, but here are some tips to make sure everyone can enjoy themselves on Halloween and Bonfire Night, even the four-legged family members!

How can I tell if my pet is worried?

Cats tend to hide away, often seeking places they feel safe such as the top of wardrobes or under beds.

How can I soothe my panicked pet?

“By following a few simple tips to keep your pet safe and help them feel secure you can make Halloween and Bonfire Night less of an ordeal for them” said Jo Gale, veterinary surgeon and Science Engagement and Communication Manager at the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition.

Be prepared

Never leave pets outside when fireworks are going off, so remember to call cats indoors during daylight hours so that they can be secured indoors before dark. Keep cat flaps locked shut and provide a litter tray overnight, and keep your cat inside when fireworks are going off. Never take a cat out to a bonfire night event and make sure someone stays at home with the pets so that they are not alone. Make sure your pet is properly identified with a collar and name tag and ID microchip, in case they take fright and run away, becoming lost.

Create a safe environment

On nights when Halloween and Bonfire Night celebrations are anticipated, choose a room in which your pet is used to spending time and is a comfortable and safe place for them. Close all windows and doors, draw curtains and blinds to block out as much noise and light as possible. If they’re used to the sound of the television or radio, turning this on can help to block out some of the firework noise. Make sure your pet has a safe place to retreat to, such as their usual bed or crate and ensure they are not disturbed when they’re in there.

Keep calm and carry on

Remain relaxed and unflustered and do not punish your pet if they seem anxious or distressed. There is a fine line between comforting your pet to reassure them that they are safe and unintentionally reinforcing their fearful behaviour, so don’t show anxiety or fear yourself, as your pet will pick up on this and become more anxious. If you do interact with your pet, do so in a calm, quiet and reassuring way without making a big fuss.

Try some distraction techniques

To distract your pet, try to engage them in some play time with toys, but don’t force them if they don’t seem interested. Give them a pet-safe treat to focus their mind on something enjoyable
Use this checklist to make sure you and your pet are well prepared for a fright-free night

  • Call cats indoors during daylight hours so that they can be secured indoors before dark. Keep cat flaps locked shut and provide a litter tray overnight
  • Keep your cat inside when fireworks are going off
  • Ensure your cat is properly identified with a collar and name tag and ID microchip in case he gets scared and runs away becoming lost
  • Choose a room in which your pet is used to spending time and is a comfortable and safe place for them
  • Close all windows and doors, draw curtains and blinds to block out as much noise and light as possible
  • If your pet is used to the noise of the TV or radio, turning this on can help to block out some of the firework noise Ensure your pet has a safe place to retreat to, such as their usual bed or crate and make sure they are not disturbed when they’re in there
  • If your pet shows signs of fear or distress, do not punish them
  • If you do interact with your pet, do so in a calm, quiet and reassuring way without making a big fuss
  • Don’t show anxiety or fear yourself, as your pet will pick up on this and become more anxious
  • To distract your pet, try to engage them in some play time with toys, but don’t force them if they don’t seem interested
  • Give them a pet-safe treat to focus their mind on something enjoyable
  • Ask your vet for advice about behavioural therapy to reduce noise phobia if this problem is distressing your pet

You can find lots of ideas for games to play with your cat or kitten.

Brought to you by the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition, a leading authority in the field of pet nutrition and care for over 50 years. WALTHAM is the global scientific research centre for Mars Petcare, delivering breakthroughs in pet nutrition and the science of human-animal interactions. Find out more at www.waltham.com

WHISKAS® top tip: stock up on WHISKAS®treats to distract your feline friend from the fireworksRead on to get your printable simple checklist to make this bonfire night completely cat-proof!

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