Glow sticks and fireworks: the hazards of Bonfire Night and Halloween for your cat

As part of its Keeping Cats Safe campaign, leading cat charity International Cat Care is alerting cat owners to the dangers that exist for cats during Bonfire Night and Halloween celebrations – from the stress caused by fireworks, to the dangers of cats chewing glow sticks.

Fireworks are particularly hazardous to cats. Loud and unpredictable, they can cause startled cats to run away and become lost, or flee across roads. Distressed cats can also develop behavioural issues such as house-soiling or excessive grooming. On nights when fireworks noise is present in your area, iCatCare has the following advice:

  • Ensure your cat is safely indoors before dark. Tempt it inside with a treat and ensure all doors, cat flaps and windows (even the small top ones) are closed to keep the cat inside but also to help keep the noise out.
  • Get your cat accustomed to the sound of fireworks weeks before the firework season. You can obtain (via your vet or online via YouTube) audio clips of firework sounds.
  • Provide your cat with a safe and comfortable hiding place in case it is frightened.
  • Don’t try to cuddle your cat to make it all OK. Treat your cat as normal, stroking it if it makes contact with you. Your cat is going to feel safest if it can hide, so preventing this by holding or cuddling for reassurance during the fireworks may be counterproductive.
  • Use treats and toys to distract your cat from the firework noise.
  • Use a synthetic plug in pheromone product (eg, Feliway, CEVA) to help your cat feel more secure.

Other hazards the charity is also highlighting include sparklers, bonfires and candle, advice about which can be found at:

Glow sticks are also a cause for concern. Regularly sold at Bonfire Night and Halloween celebrations, glow sticks are tubes made of pliable soft plastic (easily chewed through by a playful cat) that contain a liquid that glows in the dark. The main component of this oily liquid is dibutyl phthalate, which has a highly unpleasant taste and even a small amount in a cat’s mouth will cause immediate frothing and foaming. A cat may also become hyperactive and show aggressive behaviour. If this happens, iCatCare advises immediately feeding the cat small quantities of milk, canned cat food, tuna juice or other highly palatable food to dilute the chemical in the mouth and provide a more agreeable taste. If any drops have fallen on the cat’s skin or coat it should be washed off with water, as the cat will ingest it again when it grooms. Looking at the cat in the dark can help show up glowing areas that haven’t been washed off. The cat usually recovers within a few minutes, but if worried, seek veterinary advice.

Full details about the Keeping Cats Safe campaign can be found at:



Press enquiries:

Jo Vuckovic, Digital Communications Manager, +44 (0)1747 871872


Keeping Cats Safe logo

Glow sticks contain a liquid which if consumed by a cat can cause worrying side effects


Notes to editors:

About International Cat Care (iCatCare)

A charity dedicated to the health and welfare of cats.

The International Cat Care vision:

All cats, owned and unowned, are treated with care, compassion and understanding.

The International Cat Care mission:

To engage, educate and empower people throughout the world to improve the health and welfare of cats by sharing advice, training and passion.

About the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM)

ISFM is the veterinary division of International Cat Care. ISFM aims to provide a worldwide resource for veterinarians on feline medicine and surgery.


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