Dealing with loud noise phobias in cats.
All cat owners are aware of the perils that November 5 can bring, any responsible pet owner will ensure that their cat is at home on bonfire night and the nights before and after to avoid their cat becoming another victim of a poorly supervised bonfire. But what about the noise? Some animals have no problems in dealing with loud noises, some even thrive on noise and excitement, but for every cat that purrs with joy at the sound of a passing train, there are many others that find it a stressful and frightening ordeal.
A distressed cat can be a danger to herself, the instinct of a cat that has been startled is to run and hide, this means that a cat who is scared of the sound of fireworks runs out it into the night only to be more frightened or distressed or even worse killed or injured by a motorist.
There are precautions that you can take to prevent any of these undesirable scenarios occurring. Many of these precautions are simple and based on common sense and logic; others are a little more unusual.
Bonfire night can be a highly stressful time for cats because of the loud and unusual sounds that will be going off throughout the night. There is an advantage to bonfire night in that you can prepare in advance for it. The first thing to around Guy Fawkes night is to create an area in which your cat can feel safe and calm, perhaps her cat box has a comforting effect on her. Whatever you choose, you need to ensure that the area is completely safe, should she become startled or excited. Be prepared to comfort her, an anxious cat will act out of character, so ensure that she is not left on her own.
It is important to ensure that her identity tag is in place and that it is accurate and up to date, it is possible that she may try to escape, and if she succeeds you will want to know that members of the public will know where to return her to should she become lost.
If your cat is particularly affected by loud noise and you have difficulty in calming her down by yourself, consider using a tranquilliser. A lot of people are opposed to the use of tranquillisers in pets, but the benefits are clear. A cat that has been calmed is a lot easier to control and take care of, and the safety of your cat is the your main concern on nights such as bonfire night. Herbal remedies are available if you are concerned about the contents of certain tranquillisers.
Preparing for bonfire night is always a sensible precaution, but what happens if an unpredicted thunderstorm takes place and your cat is out on her own? You as a responsible cat owner would want to be confident that your cat is happy and safe wherever she is. Her loud noise phobia can be controlled with some behaviour modification.
On a quiet night spend some time getting your cat used to loud and unusual noises. This can be achieved by introducing her to the noises on a tape. This should be done softly at first and gradually louder. Be sure to praise her when she demonstrates composure, but take care to keep the situation as normal as possible. The aim of the exercise is to make her associate loud thunder claps and other strange noises with a sense of safety and comfort. Tapes that contain such sounds are often found amongst relaxation tapes in record stores. If you have difficulty in finding these tapes, the BBC has a collection of sample sound effects available on CD but it may be very expensive. You could always try to manufacture your own sounds, but you will need to record the sounds as the cat can see you as being the source of the commotion.