Cats and Fireworks

isolated cat


  • 30% of cat owners in the PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report told us that their cat is afraid of fireworks - that’s 3.3 million cats across the UK!
  • Luckily, there are plenty of little things you can do at home to keep your cat calm throughout fireworks season.

Why cats are scared of fireworks

The bright flashes and loud bangs of fireworks can be exciting and fun for us but, for our cats, they can be confusing and frightening. This is because it’s difficult for them to understand that they aren’t in danger when they hear/see them, and their senses are much better than ours – so they experience fireworks much more intensely than we do!

Signs of fear in cats

  • Cowering and hiding behind or on top of furniture
  • Trying to run away or escape from the house
  • Going to the toilet in the house
  • Refusing to eat

Getting ready for fireworks season

Here are a few things you can do to prepare for fireworks season:

  • Ensure your cat’s microchip details are up-to-date to give you a better chance of being reunited if they run away from home.
  • Check the dates of any nearby firework displays
  • Make sure you have curtains/blinds on all your windows so you can block out fireworks flashes.

How to keep a cat calm on fireworks night

Here are our top tips to keep your cat safe and calm on fireworks night:

  • Get them inside well before dark and make sure all windows and cat flaps are shut/locked so they can’t get back out. It might be worth getting them used to a slightly earlier dinner time a few weeks ahead, so they get used to coming home before dark.
  • Close your curtains before it gets dark and leave the lights on to hide the flashes.
  • Make them a den to hide in if they wish – check out our instructions below.
  • Give them a litter tray near their den - if you have multiple cats, they will need one tray each, plus a spare so they don’t have to share.
  • Play some music to help drown out the noises from fireworks. Classical can work well, or something with a deep bass to help cover up any bangs – just make sure it’s at a volume your cat is comfortable with i.e. not too loud! It’s worth starting this a few days/weeks ahead so your cat gets used to the music before fireworks night.
  • Keep them calm and relaxed with pheromones. These are chemical messages that cats produce to mark their territory and communicate with each other, some of which help them feel calm. You can help your cat feel extra calm by using a pheromone diffuser, or spray, which contains man-made 'happy' cat pheromones. For the best effect, plug a diffuser in a few weeks before firework season begins and keep it topped up until the season has ended. If you’re using a spray (for more immediate effect), let it settle for 15 minutes before allowing your cat into the room so all the alcohol in it has evaporated (it’s not dangerous, cats just don’t like the smell).
  • Use calming supplements and herbal remedies to help your cat relax. These work in a variety of ways, depending on their specific ingredients. Some supplements are more effective than others, and each cat responds differently, so if one type doesn't suit your cat, you may find that a different brand works better.
  • Try to stick to normal routines and behave normally but, if it helps, distract them with something fun to do such as a game, some treats, or a toy stuffed with food.
  • Comfort them if they come to you for reassurance - don’t ignore them, but if they want to be alone, let them (just keep a close eye on them). Don’t pick up or restrain your cat if they are scared - cats prefer to control how they cope.
  • Don’t confine them to one room, while well-intended, this confinement may increase a cat’s stress. Cats may be tempted to squeeze into a tight space when they are scared so you might want to ensure that any unsuitable areas are blocked off to keep them safe.
  • Watch them around other pets because they might be more irritable than normal if they are scared.
  • Never punish them for anything they do when they’re scared – this will just scare them more.
  • Speak to your vet for advice if your cat is still scared of fireworks despite all of these steps. They might be able to prescribe some medication to help, but you’ll need to do this in advance so you’ve got time to find the most suitable medication for your cat.

Getting your cat used to firework noises

  1. Play firework sounds through a speaker at home, at a very low volume.
  2. Act normally, but watch your cat for any reaction which might indicate stress or anxiety such as:
    • Looking at the speaker
    • Twitching their ears
    • Pupils (the black part in the middle of their eye) dilating
    • Running away

If they react at all, stop the session and start again the next day at a lower volume.

  1. If they seem comfortable, keep playing the sounds for a few minutes before turning them off.
  2. Repeat at the current volume a number of times over a few days, and if they seem completely comfortable, increase the volume slightly, and start again from step one – take this slowly, don’t rush to turn the volume up.
  3. Once they are completely happy with very loud firework noises and don’t react at all (desensitisation), you can start convincing them that the noises are a good thing (counterconditioning). Don’t move on to the next step until you are completely sure that your cat isn’t reacting to firework sounds at all.
  4. Turn on the firework sounds and give them a treat straight away.
  5. As soon as they finish the treat, turn the sounds off.
  6. Eventually, your cat will start to associate the noises with a treat and might even start to enjoy the noises or get excited!


  • Take the training very slowly – it will take several weeks/months, so you’ll need to be very patient and consistent. Never rush them, and take them back a step if they seem worried at any point.
  • Look carefully for those subtle signs of anxiety listed above – their fear may not always be obvious.
  • If you need support, speak to your vet who may refer you to an accredited pet behaviourist.

How to make your cat a fireworks den

A cosy, safe den might help your cat feel safe and secure if they are frightened on fireworks night. Here are our tips on how to make one:

  • Make it somewhere they go when they feel worried. Cats often feel safest when they’re up high, so they’ll probably like their den to be on a shelf, on top of a wardrobe, or in the top of a cupboard. A covered cat bed is ideal for helping them feel protected, but make sure it’s well secured and won’t fall off wherever you put it. Alternatively, they may like a den behind the sofa, under a table, in a crate, or inside a big, safe, empty cupboard.
  • Make the den a few weeks before fireworks season starts so they get used to it, and give them treats/praise when they go in so they think of it as a nice place.
  • Make it as enclosed as possible by using an enclosed bed, a cardboard box, or by draping blankets over whatever you’re using.
  • Make it comfortable with their bed or lots of cushions and blankets.
  • Put some of their favourite toys and treats in it.
  • Give them access to it at all times, but never force them into it or shut them inside it.
  • Make sure they have a bowl of water very near to it.
  • Don’t be disheartened if they don’t use it, or choose to hide somewhere else.
  • Keep an eye on them when they’re in the den, but don’t disturb them - if they’re in it, it’s likely they want to be alone.
  • Never force them out of the den even if they’ve been in it for a long time – just make sure they have access to food and water.

Can my vet prescribe a sedative for my cat’s fireworks fear?

If your cat is terrified of fireworks, and calming measures don’t help, your vet may be able to prescribe medication to help relax them on the night. These medications should only be used as a short-term solution. Speak to your vet well before fireworks season to allow yourself enough time to find the most effective medication for your cat. Never give your cat any medication that hasn’t been prescribed by your vet. 

When to contact your vet

You should contact your vet if:

  • You have tried the recommended steps in this article, and your cat is still scared of fireworks.
  • Your cat suddenly becomes fearful of fireworks: they may need a check-up to ensure there isn’t a medical reason for this i.e. pain or illness.


Is it true that if a kitten is born during fireworks season, they won’t be scared of fireworks?

There may be an element of truth in this, as anything a kitten experiences during their key socialisation period (3-7 weeks old), is likely to be less scary for them than things they experience for the first time in later life. However, they would need to be introduced to the noises slowly, calmly, and be happy at all times - if it’s done too quickly, and they are scared when they first hear them, it’s still very possible that they could develop a fear. The best way to introduce a kitten to fireworks is by following our step-by-step guide above during their socialisation period.

Published: December 2022

Written by vets and vet nurses. This advice is for UK pets only. Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst.