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How to Keep Your Cat Calm During Holidays and Fireworks

How to Keep Your Cat Calm During Holidays and Fireworks

Would you like to have some strategies to keep your cat calm during the holidays, and the excitement of fireworks and New Year's Eve festivities?
Pets are usually pretty chill when it comes to hanging out with us at home. Cat's can be uniquely sensitive to visitors in the home, as well as the sights and sounds of festivities. In this article, I'll break down different strategies for calming. But remember, when it comes to a fear response to something that a pet feels it cannot get away from, you may need a prescription from a veterinarian to help calm them, especially when it comes to loud noises like fireworks.
 
What are the signs of fear in cats?
Signs of fear in cats include a tense posture where they may crouch to appear small and lean away while lowering their head. As fear worsens, they may sink away and even hiss if they become defensive. Less obvious signs include hiding (obviously!), trembling, and tail flicking. It's not uncommon for stress associated conditions such as feline lower urinary tract disease/cystitis and inflammatory bowel disease to flare when cats are stressed.
 
What should you do if there are guests in the home?
More than likely your cat will not enjoy meeting guests, especially children. Statistically, young boys are the most likely to be bitten by pets. Children tend to do all the wrong things. They put their hands out "so the cat or dog can smell it." Please, do not do this. Also, avoid direct eye contact, reaching for the cat, or looming over the pet in any way. If your cat approaches a guest and does a friendly leg rub or head but, it's probably safe to pet the cat. It's the rare cat that loves to meet strangers.
 
Here are some things you can try for calming:
  • Pheremones - Feliway or Feliway multicat. These pheremones are hormones that naturally calm cats. Feliway has the scent from the glands on a cats face when they rub things with their cheek and Feliway Multicat has both the scent from the facial glands and the pheremones released when a mother cat lactates to calm her kittens.

  • Zylkene - a protein derived from milk that can decrease mild anxiety. 

  • Lavender - Cats are very sensitive to essential oils (oregano, clove, cinnamon and more) and they should never be applied directly to a cat. The most important thing regarding using lavender in cats is that a little bit goes a long way. First, put a dab on an area near your pet making sure they do not react. I will often put a dab on my wrist before examining a fearful cat. I avoid diffusing it into the environment when there are cats present and test a small amount near a resting spot. 

  • CBD - CBD seems to be a cure for everything these days. I even had someone ask me if they should give it to their puppy for no reason, like a vitamin for life! There are many promising studies including one done at Colorado State University that showed CBD decreased seizure frequency by 89%. There has not been a lot of work done in cats. The most important thing is to not give cats the psychoactive component of marijuana which is THC. Since CBD and THC products are not always third-party tested for safety, I can only recommend a few. Here is one site to check out. ElleVet Feline oil

  • Composure - a mixture of natural calming agents including L-theanine, lecithin I've heard results are individual. If it works, it works well in half ofthe cats that use it.

  • Sensory Overload - provide a quiet, hiding place, lower lights, provide familiar toys and bedding
          The bottom line is that you should test these prior to experiencing a stressful event. If the above strategies do not work, it might be a good time to ask your veterinarian about connecting you with a behaviorist who specializes in cats, and possibly a prescription medication for calming your cat for things like stressful and long car trips, and trips to the vet. 
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