Here in ‘Merica, more pets go missing on July 4 weekend than at any other time in the year.
While you’re firing up the grill, catching up with friends and having a few beers, your poor cat — or dog — could be suffering from spiking anxiety, especially if you live in a neighborhood like mine where kids are constantly setting off fireworks on the nights leading up to the holiday.
Nationally, animal control departments across the nation report a 30 to 60 percent jump in missing pet reports during the holiday weekend, according to statistics compiled by PetAmberAlert. Private shelters see a similar size uptick in lost cats and dogs who end up in the system. All kinds of cats are at risk for bolting, but Persians, Siamese and domestic shorthairs top the list, according to the lost pet tracking service.
We all know that Buddy is a particularly brave cat who once defeated a fly in single combat, has never lost a duel with a stuffed animal, and has a sterling reputation for facing down even the most terrifying threats. Buddy’s also got an advantage thanks to growing up less than a block from a public park where our town hosts its annual Independence Day fireworks show. The little guy has been hearing — and seeing — fireworks this time of year since he was a kitten, so he just shrugs it off.
If your cat isn’t as incredibly brave as Buddy, however, there are precautions you can take:
- Make sure Fluffy has a secure, up-to-date collar and a microchip.
- Keep your cat(s) in a closed area of the house or in one room before sundown, and make sure there are no open windows. Places to hide are okay as long as you can keep track of who’s hiding.
- Distract, and deaden or mitigate the sound. You can distract your furry friends with toys, a new box to play with or some catnip, which can act like a sedative if your cat eats it. Turn on the stereo and choose something you know has a calming effect on your cat(s).
- If your little one is especially anxious or jumpy, consider a pheromone diffuser like Feliway and/or a ThunderShirt. Make sure you get one for cats, not dogs.
- Play with your feline friend(s) before sundown to tire them out before fireworks start. Things’ll go a lot easier if your cat lays down for a nap and some relaxing music muffles the booming outside.
- Screen videos of Buddy the Cat. His heroic demeanor and cool under pressure will inspire your cat(s) to rise to the occasion.
*Claims about Buddy’s bravery are not to be taken literally. Exceptions to Buddy’s bravery include sudden movements, rustling paper bags, vacuums, truck backup beepers, images of Steven Tyler, certain smartphone ringtones, the Seinfeld theme music, blenders, oscillating fans, oven timer chimes, the Windows 10 error sound, Tic-Tacs rattling, certain types of snoring, and the sound of his own farts. This is not a comprehensive list, and Buddy may be startled and/or terrified by other sensory input.