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Published on October 17th, 2017 | by Debbie Martin


Your Pets & Fireworks Pt 2 Cats and Everything Else

In the first part of this series we looked at understanding the fears and phobias surrounding pets & fireworks and also how we could help our dogs in general, in this second part we are going to focus our attention on how we can help our cats, rabbits and guinea pigs, horses and ponies.


scared-cat-in-bedMany cats are fearful of fireworks. The most common signs of distress are one or a combination of the following:

  • Cowering and hiding
  • Soiling the house
  • Panting and shaking
  • Refusing to eat

There are some steps you can take to help your cat get through the firework season and it helps to have a plan in place in advance.

  • Cats like to have a bolt hole – somewhere that they feel safe and secure. This may be under furniture or on top of cupboards. If your cat goes to their bolt hole leave them alone and do not try to coax them out. If your cat already has a bolt hole that you have witnessed them using before then make sure they have access to it during the firework season.
  • Alternatively you can build a den away from windows. Cover it with blankets to muffle the noise and provide some treats and toys to make it a happy place.
  • During firework season make sure your cat is safely inside when it goes dark and ensure that you secure the doors, windows and cat flap.
  • Close the curtains to reduce the noise and flashes from fireworks.
  • Put a TV or radio on.
  • Try not to leave your cat home alone.
  • Ignore any behaviour associated with fear – panting, shaking etc. Do not try to pick your cat up or restrain them.
  • Never punish your cat for being scared and don’t make too much fuss over them – stay calm and act normally.
  • Make sure your cat has access to a litter tray, before and during the firework season.
  • Make sure your cat is microchipped and then if he/she does manage to escape you stand a greater chance of being reunited.

There are products available from your vet to help reduce your cat’s stress. These include diffusers, sprays and tablets. A Feliway diffuser placed in the room where the cat spends most of their time for 48 hours before the fireworks begin will help to increase her sense of security.

Rabbits and Guinea Pigs

Dwarf rabbit and Guinea Pigs, isolated on whiteAfter the event make sure you check your garden for any spent fireworks and remove them.

Rabbits and Guinea Pigs may also become distressed at the sound of fireworks but are often forgotten about because the majority of them are kept outside.

There are a few simple steps you can take to help them cope with the distress of fireworks.

Outdoor Rabbits and Guinea Pigs

  • If the hutch is attached to a run make sure that your pet is in the hutch part before it goes dark and shut the door to the hutch.
  • If you can, bring the hutch inside. If this is not possible partially cover the hutch with blankets to provide some soundproofing. You could always bring the rabbit inside and cuddle them in a blanket or put them in a carrier during the worst of the fireworks.
  • Turn the hutch to face the wall or fence to block out the flashes.
  • Put extra hay or straw into the hutch for your pet to burrow in. An upturned cardboard box with holes cut in the sides, filled with hay provides a great hidey hole for bunnies.
  • When fireworks are going off make sure you reassure your rabbit or guinea pig by talking to them.

House Rabbits

  • Close the windows and draw the curtains to cut down on the noise and flashes.
  • Put on the TV or some music
  • If you have a cat flap make sure it is blocked off in case your rabbit tries to make a run for it. (Make sure your cat is inside the house!)
  • Talk to them, cuddle them and reassure them.
  • Be very careful if you open the outside door that your rabbit can’t escape.

Horses and Ponies

Horse and PonyHorses, by nature are flight animals and anything unexpected will startle them- including loud bangs, flashes and burning smells. How they react varies greatly according to the individual horse, but being large and powerful animals their response can present a real danger both to themselves and anyone close by.

There have been reports of horses careering across roads as a result of running with fear.

  • Keep your horse in its familiar environment. Keep to its normal routine and with its usual companions to make it feel secure.
  • If your horse is usually kept in a stable then keep it stabled. If it is normally out in the field, keep it there but ensure it is safe, secure and not near or in sight of any fireworks’ display area.
  • If you know that your horse reacts badly to fireworks then you may have to consider moving them – but this will not help on bonfire night when fireworks will be going off all around.
  • Stay with your horse if you know that fireworks are going to be let off.
  • Remain calm, relaxed and positive. Horses can sense unease in humans and if you are agitated it will make them uneasy.
  • Under no circumstances go riding when there is a risk of fireworks – you will put yourself, your horse and other people at great risk.
  • If your horse is kept indoors make sure that the stable/barn doors are closed.
  • Leave the lights on to lessen the effects of the bangs.
  • In advance of the event you could start playing a radio in the stables to help mask the sound of the bangs. This must be introduced in advance though so that your horse has time to get used to it.
  • Make sure you have your mobile with you, it is fully charged and you have your vet’s telephone number with you in case of emergency.

Stables and hay are flammable so always ensure there is plenty of water and sand around to deal with any fire that may start as a result of a firework.

If you keep your horse at a livery yard make sure you know the fire drill and assembly point.

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About the Author

Debbie Martin has worked at Beeston Animal Health for over five years, having previously worked as a nurse in equine and small animal practice. Although generally involved with aspects of marketing these days and putting her psychology degree to good use, she still has a great depth of up to date knowledge in all creatures great and small. Debbie lives at home with her partner and two children and spends much of her spare time looking after her horses, dogs and cats or at the home farm with the cows, sheep and turkeys.

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