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Cat Care Society: Why Fourth of July fireworks drive cats batty

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Here's a different angle on the annual warnings about the danger to animals on the Fourth of July: The nation's birthday observance is probably a cat's least favorite holiday

So say the experts at the Cat Care Society in Lakewood, where they know a thing or two about felines.

"The noise usually begins a few days before the holiday and may last throughout the weekend, since July 4 is on a Friday," according to a communication from the society.(www.catcaresociety.org) "A cat's sense of hearing is much more acute than ours, and all the noises associated with the holiday are much more intense for them. Add to that the lack of understanding of what is going on, and you can have a very scared cat on your hands."

So what's a cat owner to do? The society has these tips.

• Create a safe room or safe hiding places - put beds, food, water, toys, and cat trees and scratchers in the room. Leave a radio or TV on in the room, as this may act as white noise and block out some of noise. "Igloo style" cat beds can also be a good option

. •Close all the windows, lower shades, and draw blinds to at least lower noise levels somewhat.

• Play some calming music (classical is good), but don't try to drown out the sound of fireworks by blasting the music.

•Natural calming remedies, such as Stress Stopper or Storm Soother can help keep catst calm. Pheromone plug-ins such as Comfort Zone with Feliway can also help - use in the area where your cat tends to hide during storms

. •Remain calm - our cats pick up on our emotions, and if we're anxious, they'll be anxious as well. Reassure your cat, but don't overdo it. In your cat's mind, this rewards the fearful behavior. Speak in a calm, but cheerful voice.

•Medication - if your cat has reacted very badly to fireworks in the past, you may want to talk to you veterinarian about prescribing anti-anxiety medication.

The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) tosses in this caution for all animals:

•Never use fireworks around pets. While exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns and/or trauma to the face and paws of curious pets, even unused fireworks can pose a danger. Many types contain potentially toxic substances, including potassium nitrate, arsenic and other heavy metals.

Of course, make sure your animal has name tags and microchips inc case the firecracker fest makes then run for the hills. And use common sense about letting your pets near other substances that can harm them (such as booze).

In an Independence Day twist, two metro area shelters are offering the same discount rate for adoptions to mark the Fourth

Through Sunday, July 6 the Dumb Friends League (www,ddfl.org) is offering a "Stars & Stripes" adoption event price of $4 for all adult cats and dogs 1 year or older. And there is no cost to adopt small mammals (hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, ferrets, etc.) during this time. Adoptions include spay/neuter surgery, medical exam, initial vaccinations, a microchip identification implant, and a free office visit with a participating member of the Denver Area Veterinary Medical Society.

The Foothills Animal Shelter (www.foothillsanimalshelter,org) in Golden is offering $4 adoptions on all pets on July 4 between 11 a,m. and 2 p.m. Foothills is battling 49 other shelters around the country for a $100,000 ASPCA prize for saving the most animals over the June 1-August 31 period in 2013. Since June 1, more than 900 lives have been saved so far during the contest.

Adoptions will include the pet’s spay/neuter, vaccines, microchip and health check.

And speaking of cats, people dining at Colfax Avenue location of Stella's restaurant July 13 from 5 to 9 p.m. will be helping Rocky Mountain Feline Rescue (www.rmfr/colorado.org) in Denver. Ten percent of all sales at the restaurant during that time go to the nonprofit organization.

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