The official NASA Eclipse 101 FAQ page, poses the question “Do animals really change their behavior during the solar eclipse?” Their answer:
It has been reported during many eclipses that many different animals are startled by totality and change their behavior thinking that twilight has arrived. You can explore this yourself with your own pets, or by watching local wildlife, especially birds.
But, wait, what about protecting your pets’ eyes? No need to worry, according to Angela Speck, AAS Co-Chair, National Solar Eclipse Task Force, in a fascinating NASA science briefing discussing all aspects of the eclipse. Here’s what she had to say:
It’s no different than any other day. On a normal day, your pets don’t try to look at the sun and therefore don’t damage their eyes, so on this day they’re not gonna do it either. It is not a concern, letting them outside. All that’s happened is we’ve blocked out the sun, it’s not more dangerous. So I think that people who have pets want to think about that. I’m not going to worry about my cat.
If you are concerned for your pets’ safety, one sure way to guarantee their eyes won’t be damaged by the sun is to keep them indoors. Make sure you take precautions with all the humans in your life too! Especially the smaller ones. The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” or hand-held solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun.