Friends, it is no joke — more pets get lost on July 4th than any other day of the year. In fact, according to Tagg.com, there’s a 30% increase in the number of lost pets between July 4th and the 6th. The American Humane Society states that July 5th is the busiest day of the year for animal shelters nationwide.
We have to make sure our furry friends are safe and sound, starting right now. Many people tend to start this holiday early (or extend it) because it’s right smack dab in the middle of summer — right around the time they would normally take vacation anyway. Animals sense this change in energy the same way they can sense a storm.
Rule #1: Keep cats indoors
If you normally let your kitties out, you may want to consider not letting them out at all, starting this weekend. People WILL start setting fireworks off early — they always do! If a cat hears a loud noise while she’s outside, she may run off and hide for hours.
Remember, cats are much more sensitive to sound than humans. Watch for the tell-tale signs of anxiety: hiding, restlessness, aggressiveness, change in appetite, abnormal grooming behavior, irritability, and excessive whining.
Make sure you pay attention when you open and close the doors to your house. Cats are more apt to want to sneak out when they’re feeling anxious. If you’re having people over, sequester your cats in a room far away from the action and ask guests not to enter.
2.) Create a “safe haven”
Make sure your kitty has a safe place to retreat when the noise begins. Open a few closet doors and make sure their catbed is in a quiet spot away from any activity. Wherever your little fur baby chooses to hang out, make sure she has plenty of food and water and access to a litter box. Perhaps put a cardboard box with her favorite blanket inside in the “safe zone,” and surround it with some of her toys. Close the windows and shades and turn on the radio or television to drown out outside noise and activity.
3.) Microchip your cat and make sure ID is up-to-date
Even if your cat is strictly an indoor kitty, it’s important to make sure her identification is current. If you have an outdoor cat, microchipping is the best way to ensure that your cat will be found if she’s lost. The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) states that less than 2% of lost cats that entered animal shelters were reunited with their families. However, the return-to-owner rate for microchipped cats was over 38% (more than 2000% better). Their website offers detailed information on microchipping and how it works. This page allows you to enter your cat’s microchip ID and look it up immediately.
4.) Comfort your kitty
Spend some time with your kitty before and after the festivities. Nothing helps ease anxiety better than some love from mama (or dada). Distract her with her favorite toy. Give her treats. Hearing your soothing voice while being petted and doted on really is the best medicine. If you’re going to be out all day or night, consider having a pet sitter come in, especially if your cat is extra skittish.
5.) A word about “calming medications” and other products
There are many products out there — feline pheromones, herbal remedies, essential oils — that claim to calm cats down and reduce anxiety. If you’re considering these “remedies,” consult your vet first. Don’t simply try it the day of. You don’t know what side effects may occur or how your cat will react to a particular medication the first time. And many essential oils are toxic to cats. Pressure wrap devices like the Thundershirt apply gentle, constant pressure to the cat’s torso. It’s like a little kitty sweater that they can wear during stressful times like July 4th (or even going to the vet). However, it’s better to introduce this kind of device gradually.
So, keep those kitties safe and sound everybody! And have a great 4th of July!