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Published: Jun 22, 2012

Just about everyone celebrates the 4th of July with friends and family, and most consider their cat to be just another member of the crew. As such, it makes sense for cats to be around while Independence Day celebrations are going on. However, every cat owner has a responsibility to look after their feline friends on the 4th of July. The ASPCA Poison Control Center recently offered some tips for having pets around on this national holiday, and all owners should take these into account to avoid cat emergencies.

One of the chief priorities should be keeping the cat away from food intended for humans. Everyone loves a good 4th of July cookout, but this can quickly turn dangerous if the cat is exposed to food it should not be eating. Chocolate, onions, garlic and anything containing caffeine are just some of the items known to be poisonous to cats. In general, felines should not be eating food meant for humans. Make sure the cat is well-fed before guests arrive to avoid this issue, and be sure to stop any of your visitors from feeding the cat inappropriate food or drinks.

This includes alcohol. Most responsible pet owners would never give a cat alcoholic drinks on purpose, but in the midst of a party, it's easy to leave a drink unattended. This is especially true when partying outdoors, where it's all too easy for someone to place their cup on the ground in lieu of a coaster or table. This puts the drink in prime position to be ingested by a cat. Keep the cat away from alcoholic beverages and ask your guests to keep their drinks up high and off the ground.

Food and drink should not be your only concerns. Some may not realize that certain types of insecticides can be extremely poisonous to cats. You probably will go out of your way to ensure you aren't eaten alive by mosquitoes, but do not use any sunscreen or insect repellent not specifically labeled for use on animals on your feline. In addition, keep the cat away from any citronella candles or oils you are burning to ward off insects. If the cat is going to be outside, lawn chemicals are another thing all owners need to watch out for. Be sure the animal isn't rolling around in something that could irritate its skin.

Finally, setting off fireworks with cats around generally isn't a good idea. The loud noises easily scare cats and may cause the feline to run away. Having the cat around lighters and open flames is also not a good idea. If your 4th of July celebration includes these items, be sure the cat is locked up inside.  As an added precaution, VCA Animal Hospitals recommends cats who are allowed outdoors should always have microchip identification and identifying tags on their collar in the event they do wander away from the party.