Remember, remember the 5th of November as being one of the most stressful times of the year for cats and dogs.
However, the barrages of Fireworks Night could become a little more bearable for Britain’s kitty and canine population. That’s with the release today of the first films for cats and dogs that are scientifically developed to help reduce stress caused by fireworks.
The films for cats and dogs have been developed by MORE TH>N Pet Insurance and feature the unmistakable voice of actor David Tennant as soothing narrator. The movies are playfully entitled Woofering Heights and Peer Window in homage to the Emily Bronte and Alfred Hitchcock classics. The films can be viewed below:
Although to humans the short films may appear abstract and surreal they are highly compelling viewing for their intended audiences of cats and dogs. Indeed, every aspect of both films draws extensively on scientific insights into the precise forms of audio and visual content that can at first capture and arouse the attention of a cat or a dog before gradually inducing feelings of relaxation and sleep.
Peer Window is set entirely within a window frame to reflect a cat’s habitual behaviour of staring out of windows for approximately five hours a day. The film depicts a blend of animate and inanimate objects, as recommended by the academic research, including looping scenes of fish, swaying trees, rain droplets and rippling water, among other abstract images.
The films are designed to be played to cats and dogs a number of times in the days leading up to the fifth of November, allowing them to become familiar with the content and learn by association. Both of the short films replay after the credits roll to reinforce the feelings of calm and relaxation.
Pet behavioural expert Karen Wild said: “Noise phobia in cats and dogs can lead to distress, injury and long-term behavioural problems, so it’s important for pet owners that they do as much as they can to help calm and relax their animals. These films may seem strange to humans, but it’s important to realise that cats and dogs do not perceive the world in the same way we do and will respond to completely different audio and visual stimuli. Hopefully these films, in conjunction with other veterinary-approved measures, can have a positive effect on cats and dogs that suffer from noise phobia.”
In addition to playing the films to cats and dogs, owners can try to reduce the impact of fireworks by following the advice from vet Robert White-Adams below:
1. Take your dog outside during the day and exercise them so they are tired. As with humans, physical exercise induces endorphin release, which amongst other things has a potent anti-anxiety effect.
2. About an hour before expected fireworks give your dog/cat a medium sized normal meal. The feeling of satiety carries a potent natural anti-anxiety effect.
3. Move your pet to the area of the house in which you believe they feel most at home.
4. Cover the windows and doors, and turn on lights – you are aiming to reduce the impact and awareness of light flashes outside.
5. Put on some background music at a moderate volume – preferably music with a constant and distracting bass or beat. You are aiming to reduce the startling impact of crashes, bangs and whistles from outside.
6. If your pet is awake and active, try and distract them with gentle, calm play.