Cat owners would do anything to make sure their beloved companions are never in any kind of distress. But, the reality is that cats are hardwired to be nervous, and for good reason. Their hypervigilance is a means for survival, as their elevated startle reflex can keep them safe against predators and other potential forms of danger.
Now that we have entered the summer season, a particular challenge to your cat’s mental wellbeing is right around the corner. On the Fourth of July, it’s a tradition for us to enjoy the local fireworks that pay tribute to our country’s independence. While a fireworks show can be a good time for us, it can be terrorizing to a cat who does not realize that fireworks are not actually a threat to their survival. And, even though temporary stress likely will not be harmful to your pet’s overall health, the anxiety that fireworks can cause should still be avoided.
Cats and Stress
One thing that most cat owners know is that cats can get stressed out or anxious very easily, especially when it comes to change or unexpected circumstances, like a move to a new home or even something as simple as guests coming over. The problem is that cats are experts at hiding their distress, as showing vulnerability in the wild can be dangerous. So, how do we know whether or not our cat is actually stressed out?
- Lack of appetite
- Excessive meowing
- Intolerance to being touched
- Enlarged pupils
- A low-hanging tail
- Crawling low to the ground
Of course, there is only so much stress that we can prevent in a cat’s life. Still, cat owners should do everything that they can to keep their kitties feeling safe and comfortable, because stress can be harmful to a cat’s health, even more so than to humans. Stress is very taxing on a cat’s body and can lead to or exacerbate existing physical conditions including hair loss, kidney dysfunction, digestive dysfunction and more.
Fireworks and Your Cat’s Emotional Wellbeing
Fireworks are similar to thunder in that they catch your cat off-guard, and that, despite their relative harmlessness, can make a cat think that their lives are seriously in danger. Fireworks are loud and startling, and a cat does not know what they are or why they are occurring. Depending on the noise level, they can cause severe distress and cause a cat to exhibit clear signs of anxiety until the cat believes that the threat is over.
How to Keep Your Cat Calm During Those July 4th Fireworks
The good news is that there are ways to keep a cat calmer during a nearby fireworks display. Here are our favorite tips that are recommended by veterinarians as well as feline experts.
Create a Safe Space
First of all, try to create a safe environment where your cat feels less vulnerable. Cats typically like to hide in small spaces during moments of distress, so feed into their instincts by creating a cave-like environment such as a fort, or a box with a hole in it where they feel sheltered.
Drown Out the Noise
There’s only so much that we can do to minimize the sound of fireworks but putting on calming music or a white noise machine can dampen some of the impact.
Keep Guests to a Minimum
If you’re having a 4th of July bash, try to keep guests to a minimum, or keep guests outside. This way, your cat is not already under potential stress due to other people being in their territory.
Use a Pheromone Spray
For those who don’t know, pheromone spray is a spray product that mimics the smell of pheromones released by cats and can make them feel calmer. Spray this on their bed or anywhere else they will be residing during fireworks.
Block Out the Light
Not only can the sound of fireworks be alarming, but so can the flashing of light in the sky. So, turn down the blinds or use light-blocking curtains to minimize this effect.
See Your Veterinarian
If your cat exhibits severe anxiety symptoms, such as biting at their skin or showing signs of serious gastrointestinal upset, consider seeing your veterinarian for a more advanced anxiety treatment.
CBD for Nervous Kitties: Can It Help?
Study #1: Cannabidiol can be administered to cats, because like us, they have an endocannabinoid system that efficiently uses cannabinoids to send them to cannabinoid receptors, resulting in a chemical reaction that allows for individual bodily processes to regulate.
Study #2: Cannabinoid receptors in the brain play a role in managing mood and stress levels through the regulation of specific neurotransmitters. For this reason, researchers believe that CBD may be useful against stress by balancing cortisol levels.
Giving Your Feline Hemp for Firework Anxiety
Worried about how your kitty will react this 4th of July? Don’t worry. These tips will ensure that you are giving your feline CBD properly to offer the most effectiveness possible.
Tip #1: Your Veterinarian Should Know
Your veterinarian knows your cat’s medical needs and history, as well as any medications that they are taking, and therefore can make the best decision for your cat. Also, a vet can determine whether or not it’s safe to use CBD based on the medications they may be taking, as both CBD and some medications can suppress the CYP3A4 enzyme, making it unsafe to combine them unless a vet specifically instructs you to do so.
Tip #2: Cat-Friendly CBD Products are a Must
Not all CBD products are made for cat consumption. You can only give your feline a CBD-based product made for their species. Look at the ingredients to make sure that they are safe for your cat to consume, and choose a formula to administered internally, such as a tincture or a treat, rather than topically. Only CBD given internally can promote an effect that pertains to their stress levels.
Note: CBD products made for humans may contain essential oils and other botanicals that are toxic to pets.
Tip #3: Dose Properly
This is simple enough. Just follow the instructions that come with the product carefully to give them the proper dosage amount for their body weight. There should be a very clear breakdown as to how much to administer to them daily according to what they weigh.
Tip #4: Daily Use Could Be More Impactful
If your cat generally has elevated stress levels or anxiety, incorporating CBD into their daily routine may be helpful. This supplies the body with consistent cannabinoids that can be used as effectively as possible.