The 4th of July is on the way, and that means backyard barbecues, fireworks, and party guests dressed in red, white, and blue. Unfortunately, it also means dangers for our cats that we need to watch out for.
July 5th is the busiest day of the year for animal shelters because so many pets bolt in fear on the holiday and get lost. The next day, shelters are full of animals who unable to find their own way home.
How can we keep our pets safe and healthy on the 4th of July? As responsible pet parents, we must educate ourselves on the holiday’s hazards and proactively prepare to protect our pets from the dangers.
Here are five July 4th holiday pet safety tips to help you keep your cat safe.
1. Firework Safety
This should go without saying, but pets and fireworks don’t mix.
Keep your cat indoors in a quiet, cool, isolated part of your home. Put on your kitty’s favorite television program or play music to mask firework sounds.
If needed, confine your cat to a comfortable crate or carrier to prevent them from escaping through open doors, lunging at windows, or eating inappropriate materials, which all can happen when pets get anxious.
2. Tire Your Cat Out Beforehand
Play active games with your cat leading up to any potentially stressful events, such as fireworks or parties. A tired pet is a happy pet.
If your cat spends a lot of their energy on play, they’ll have less energy to devote to anxiety and anxious behaviors. They may even sleep through events if they feel tired enough.
Active games you might try include playing with “fishing pole” type toys, having your cat chase a laser pointer, or playing fetch if your cat is up for it.
Keep them moving and busy, and start several hours early so they can grow tired by the time the fireworks go off.
3. Promote Calmness
Talk to your veterinarian about treatments for anxiety in cats and ways to promote calmness.
There are several medications available to treat anxiety.
Do NOT use acepromazine or “Ace” if you have a choice. It’s a common animal sedative, yet it does not have anxiolytic (anxiety relieving) properties. Instead, it interferes with perception, which–for a cat who already feels scared–can be downright terrifying. The drug can actually increase sensitivity to noise, and many times makes cats more reactive to loud sounds.
Alprazolam (Xanax) is an anxiolytic and mild sedative that vets often prescribe instead of acepromazine.
If you prefer natural solutions, talk to your veterinarian. Some cat owners claim CBD products help promote calmness, and others swear by chamomile, oat, or echinacea.
4. Be Careful With Decorations
Like Halloween, 4th of July holiday costumes are not fun for all pets. Never force your pet to wear a costume if they don’t want to play dress up.
Even if your cat loves costumes, don’t leave them unsupervised, as the costume can constrict them, get caught in their mouth or between their legs, or become a choking hazard when your cat tries to pull the clothing off.
Also, if you have party streamers or dangling decorations around the home, be aware that these are very tempting for kitties. What starts as a fun piece of plastic to bat around can quickly become a gastrointestinal emergency when cats swallow it.
5. Keep Dangerous Foods Out Of Reach
There are always plenty of yummy–yet unhealthy–foods and beverages to be found on the 4th of July. We humans sometimes go a little overboard with these treats, and our cats would probably do the same if they were allowed to.
Unfortunately, this isn’t very safe for our feline friends. Several of the foods and drinks we consume can be toxic for cats. Alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, grapes and more can actually poison our kitties.
Furthermore, even foods that aren’t toxic can present choking hazards. Cooked bones, pits from fruits, and other discarded items are dangerous. Even paper plates, foil, and plastic ware can hurt cats.
Always keep an eye on the food and keep cats away. Make sure the trash bin is secure and all dangerous items find their way into it. No one should leave anything out and unattended that might tempt pets to sneak a taste.
Keep all of these tips in mind, and you and your cat can have a safe, healthy, and fun 4th of July.
Do you have any more tips to keep cats safe on Independence Day? Let us know in the comments below!