Every year as December 31st approaches, voices of people aware of the damage caused by fireworks rise, calling for the suppression of the traditional New Year's Eve fireworks. Along with these reasonable voices, as generally tends to happen, a chorus of unreasonable voices rises too. These voices are those of people who, in the name of a tradition that is completely human and without any real necessity, continue to promote the use of a whole series of devices that create as much fun for Man as destruction for the rest of the environment.

Let's briefly see what consequences these devices can cause:

  • They pollute the environment.
  • They are can cause the death of a vast number of birds and other wild animals.
  • They can cause terror in many newborns, chilren, elderly people, sensitive people, people who are faint of heart; sometimes with dramatic consequences.
  • They cause terror in many domestic animals, who can fall in a confused state of mind and even escape. Escaping can, in turn, be the cause of road accidents and even death or injury of the animal and the human involved.
  • The scenario of possible escape mentioned above can also lead to failure to find the missing animal, which can end up swelling the ranks of the generally overcrowded shelters and rescue centers. It is also possible that the missing animals may die due to accidents or hardships after wandering in terror and confusion for days.
  • They increase the risk of fires.
  • They lead to an exponential increase in often very serious accidents and injuries to people, due to incorrect use of these devices and failure to comply with basic safety standards.
  • They cause noise pollution.
  • They often cause car windows to burst and car alarms to be set off.
  • They cause extreme agitation in many dogs and other animals (including newborns and human babies) who experience moments of pure terror, with consequences that can last up to days, weeks, or even months later.

Is it really worth risking all this to watch some colored flashes in the sky?
Is it not time to create new and safer traditions to be carried on by the new generations? Traditions through which to keep the joy of celebrating the end of a year and the beginning of a new one, without causing death, injury, fear, and harm.

Having said that, and hoping to have encouraged even just one fireworks user to change his or her mind to a better way to celebrate, here are some tips to help our cats get through New Year's Eve with as much peace of mind as possible:

    it is very important to limit loud noises and lights from the outside as much as possible, so as to keep the environment as quiet as possible.
    even if your animals usually live outside, let them enter the house at least on this night. This way they will not be completely exposed to the crossfire of fireworks and explosions that could cause serious damage (physical and psychological) or even cause their escape out of terror.
    so that they can move more easily around the house and have some assurance that there are no dangers around. Total darkness can seriously increase the risk of panic attacks in anxious, sick, young or elderly individuals.
    to soften the sounds coming from outside. The ideal music is relaxing music at low volume (the hearing of cats is extremely sensitive, so loud music can be counterproductive and cause the opposite effect increasing the state of anguish).
    place some boxes or kennels away from windows, where the animal can hide. Letting him take refuge in a closet or in a particularly protected place is also acceptable.
    if we are spending the evening at home with our animals and we realize that they are in agitation because of the fireworks, it is our duty to stay close to them, to reassure them. This does not mean to hold them or touch them if they do not want to. It means to be next to them and give them the possibility to refer to us if they wish. Unfortunately, there is still the negative belief that an animal’s expression of fear must be ignore because paying attention to it can cause to reinforce that behavior: this is absolutely wrong! Fear is not a behavior, it is an EMOTION, and as such it must be welcomed and supported with our presence and our help.
    if the animal is not yet in a state of serious agitation, you can try to create a diversion by focusing on some game. Game activities, both physical and mental, are a positive way to release tension and distract the animal until the storm has passed.
    In case we are not at home on New Year's Eve, it is very useful to leave clothes with our smell in places where the animal usually takes refuge, such as the sofa or the bed, so that it can feel our presence in case it feels frightened and needs reassurance.
    it is very important to ensure that, for example, there are no doors left open, there are no potentially dangerous foods or medicines laying around, or no objects left in a precarious position on shelves and furniture, or windows left ajar, etc. This is due to the fact that, should the cat react in fear, or even panic, he could run around the house aimlessly, putting itself in danger without fully realizing what he’s doing; he could slip into dangerous places, get stuck without succeeding in getting free, swallow non-edible things, bump into objects, make things fall, etc. aggravating it’s agitation.
    a terrified cat may be able to slip into even the tightest passages to escape, putting himself in grave danger.
    we must be very good at understanding our cat’s state of mind and needs; for example, if he needs to be pampered or kept on our lap, or if he prefers to be left alone. Many cats, when afraid, live very badly being picked up or touched and petted. If we do not respect their needs, we may put them in a greater state of anguish and risk even being scratched or bitten.

At Centro Miciolandia® Perugia, we all say a strong NO TO THE FIREWORKS OF NEW YEAR'S EVE or any other occasion!!!

FISAP CAB Roberta Roscini
ICAN Feline Behaviorist (Consultant)



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