Halloween and Bonfire Night can be rather confusing celebrations for our pets and while we might like being spooked on 31st October and wowed by fireworks, our cats most certainly won’t enjoy being frightened. There are some aspects of these festivities that can also be dangerous for pets too so follow our guide to keep your cat safe and happy.
If your cat is likely to be worried by lots of noise and activity outside – especially if you have got lots of fireworks going off in your neighbourhood – put the radio on or some music and close the curtains to block out any outdoor sounds or firework flashes. Classical music has been shown to help calm cats and the radio station Classic FM usually runs a special programme on Bonfire Night for pets.
Feline pheromone diffusers and sprays can also help an anxious cat at times of stress. They are synthetic versions of a natural smell given off by nursing cats to calm their kittens. There are also natural alternatives to pheromone sprays and adapters available. You could plug a diffuser in near to your cat’s den or spray their bedding with it.
Natural remedies are available which can be added to a pet's food or water to help keep them calm. A calming collar or room spray can also help to provide some on-the-go assistance in relieving stressful situations.
It is extremely unlikely that your cat will tolerate being dressed up for Halloween and being forced to do so will undoubtedly cause your pet stress. Signs that your cat is unhappy include hissing, scratching or biting, freezing or low body posture, rolling over or trying to get away. If in doubt, don’t try it!
If you want your cat to look the part you could consider getting a Halloween-themed collar but make sure it is a proper cat-safe one that releases under pressure to limit the risk of choking should the collar become caught.
Trick or treat
Human treats can be toxic to cats so should be kept out of reach of your pet. Chocolate contains a toxin called theobromine, which cats can’t metabolise, and a build-up of it in the body can lead to liver failure. A cat doesn’t need to consume much chocolate in order to become ill so it is best kept well out of the way.
Some cats seem to like the taste of pumpkin so you might find your pet trying to have a nibble on one that you’ve carved. While pumpkin is not dangerous for cats to eat – in fact, it has been shown to help regulate digestion – a carved pumpkin that has been sitting outdoors for a while can cause your cat to become ill if mould and bacteria has started to grow on it. Keep carved pumpkins out of your pet’s reach just in case.
If you are going to be opening your front door to trick or treaters it is a good idea to shut your cat away in another room where they can feel safe and not escape out into the street. You could make your pet a cosy den or put their bed in this room along with their litter box and water bowl. Remind everyone in the house that your cat is in there so they do not accidentally leave the door open.
If your cat gets distressed by continual knocking on the door or ringing of your doorbell consider leaving a notice asking people not to disturb you. If you still want to take part you could leave a bowl of treats on the doorstep for children to help themselves.
Keep your cat in
It’s a good idea to keep your cat in at night for their safety, not just at Halloween and Bonfire Night but at any time. Cats are at risk of injury, or even death, from fireworks but also are more likely to be involved in road accidents and scuffles with other cats after dark. Animal welfare charities recommend only allowing your cat to roam during daylight hours.
If your cat is used to having free access to the outdoors, they may feel frustrated to be suddenly restricted. Dedicate more time to playing with your cat, encouraging their natural behaviours such as jumping, stalking and pouncing and they’ll be much happier in the home.
If you carve pumpkins into lanterns and want to illuminate them, consider using battery-operated tea lights rather than candles. Naked flames pose a fire hazard if a curious cat takes an interest in them and your cat is likely to bat a pumpkin with their paw potentially knocking it over.
Dangling decorations can cause an inquisitive cat to become entangled so choose your decorations wisely and keep them well out of your cat’s reach. Consider decorating the outside of your house rather than indoors to limit the number of decorations your cat comes into contact with.
Have fun this Halloween and Bonfire Night but don’t let the next few weeks be full of frights for your pets!