Ask the Trainer

Start Now to Help Your Pet Overcome a Fear of Fireworks

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It’s common knowledge that dogs are stressed out by fireworks, but many people don’t realize that a lot of cats are confused and afraid of the noises, too. For many of us with pets,  Independence Day can be the most dreaded time of the year. For us, the evening is often spent comforting a fearful feline from the first crackle to the grand finale. We use Thundershirts, calming sprays, soothing music, and more to settle our stressed-out kitties, often only finding relief when the explosions finally die down. It’s a lot of work, but we do it because we love our cats and we want them to feel safe and secure.

Instead of just dreading the big day, why not start to prepare now?

Professional Cat Trainer, Jennifer Mauger of L’Chaim Feline explains how to help prepare your cat for fireworks by desensitizing them to the noise:

“We can start by desensitizing them to the sound of fireworks.  By playing a fireworks noise quietly in the background while feeding their favorite treats, canned or raw food and playing with their favorite toy, we can desensitize our cats to the noise.  If they are doing well for the first couple days or week slowly turn up the volume every four or five days, You know the volume is right if your cat continues to eat or play.  If they stop you need to bring the volume back down.”

Check out this YouTube video with fireworks sounds. Play at a low volume while your cat eats or does anything they LOVE to do. Repeat every  day, very gradually increasing the volume while pairing with something awesome for your cat – playing, treats, or a delicious meal. The video was created for dogs, but it works equally well for cats! 

As any cat lover knows, our feline friends can be very sensitive to loud noises. This can make fireworks a nightmare for both cats and their owners. However, there is hope! With a little patience and some positive reinforcement, you can help your cat overcome their fear of fireworks. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Start today! The sooner you start, the better.
  • Go slowly and keep your sessions short. This is very important as moving too quickly can actually make your cat’s fear of fireworks worse.
  • Make sure your cat is having a blast while the video plays in the background. This will help them associate positive feelings with the sound of fireworks.

With a little time and effort, you can help your cat enjoy fireworks just like everyone else!

Jennifer also recommends these other things that can help in conjunction with your desensitization plan – Feliway diffusers, Thundershirt for cats and Through a Cat’s Ear, a CD of music and soothing sounds just for cats!  Be careful with the essential oils that you might use with a dog.  Many can be dangerous for a cat.

For more training tips and cool animal behavior information, check out L’Chaim Feline on Facebook by clicking here.

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