Is Your Cat Depressed?

Sad CatAs most cat owners know, the furry friends can be quite temperamental. You can tell when your cat is happy, tired, hungry, or feeling feisty pretty easily. However, what many cat owners don’t know is that cats can get depressed. A cat’s depression can come from a variety of sources, and it is important to watch for the signs and symptoms as a cat’s owner. Depression is defined by long periods of sadness or hopelessness, and can happen to a cat at any time. Here, we’re going to talk about the reasons why a cat might be depressed, the symptoms of a sad cat, and how to remedy it.

What does cat depression look like?

There are a variety of ways that feline depression can manifest. In order to detect feline depression, you’re going to have to pay attention to your cat’s usual habits. What could mean depression for one cat could be regular behavior for another. The most important thing to note is if their regular behavior changes. If any of the following symptoms sound like your cat, they may have depression:

Is your cat extra sleepy? Cats should feel awake while they’re awake, and restful while they’re sleeping. It isn’t normal for cats to exhibit fatigued behavior and could indicate depression or another health ailment.
Does your cat have less of an appetite? Some cats have more voracious appetites than others, but the key factor to pay attention to here is if their appetite has changed. If your cat used to clean their plate and now no longer seems to have a healthy interest in meals, it could mean depression or another health problem.

Acting fearful could be a symptom of feline depression.

Acting fearful could be a symptom of feline depression.

Is your cat less social than before? If your cat was once an outgoing little guy and now it seems that you can’t get him/her out of the corner or from underneath the bed, this fear could be connected with depression.
Have your cat’s bathroom habits changed? Keep an eye out for your cat starting to use the litter box in an improper way. Accidents, messes, and spraying can point to a cat having depression.
Was your cat was an avid groomer in the past but has seemed to clean themselves less thoroughly lately? Changes in grooming patterns shouldn’t be taken lightly, as grooming is a natural instinct for cats.
Does your cat seem more angsty than usual? Uncharacteristic biting, scratching, or hissing could be symptoms of depression or pain.
If your cat is giving the lonely yowl more than usual, they could be dealing with more than meets the eye. It is normal for a cat to meow when they’re alone, but not when anyone’s around to respond.

What are some common causes of feline depression?

There are a variety of reasons as to why a cat would exhibit symptoms of depression. Usually, a change has occurred either in the cat’s surroundings or their body. Showing signs of depression is not normal, but it can be easier to remedy if you’ve figured out the underlying cause. Some of the reasons why a cat is acting depressed are:
-Sickness: Health problems can get anybody down, and not just people. Sickness is probably the number one reason for a cat to be exhibiting signs of depression. Some veterinarians suspect that one of the reasons that a cat could get depressed is if their immune system is compromised. A low immune system directly correlates to increased risk of infection and can make your cat feel pretty yucky and even depressed.
-Death of a friend: Cats can become lonely and sad if their buddy leaves or passes away. If your cat has lost a friend, perhaps your dog or other cat, they may exhibit symptoms of depression. The lonely yowl that we referenced earlier could be an indicator of your cat mourning in their own way. They may not understand what happened to their furry friend, but they have noticed that their friend isn’t around which could lead to a depressive episode.
-New baby or pet: Felines are creatures of habit and don’t take kindly to change. They become used to their surroundings, their space, and the members of their household. Once a new pet or person comes into play, your cat may have trouble coping with the new dynamics of the household.
-Boredom: A bored kitty can end in destruction and depression. Cats require lots of stimulation while they’re awake, and a bored kitty can result in some unsavory behaviors. Many cats tend to act destructive when they’re bored, but some can fall into a depression after going through long periods of time without stimulation.

What are some ways to remedy feline depression?

If your cat is exhibiting any of the previously mentioned symptoms, the first thing that you’ll want to do is take them to see your veterinarian. In order to diagnose what’s happening with your cat, it is important to rule out any other possibilities of what’s happening with their health. There are many other health problems that can manifest with the same symptoms as depression, so it is important that your veterinarian tests for all possible health ailments.

If your veterinarian has determined that there are no other underlying causes for your cat’s behavior and that they are depressed, there may be some clinical techniques to try to get your cat back on their feet. Depending on the severity of the diagnosis, prescription antidepressants may be an option. However, the best way to cheer your depressed cat up is to make sure that their surroundings and home situation is up to kitty standards.

portrait of a cat that looks out of the window-Are your cat’s favorite areas clean? Are you keeping the litter box and bathroom area clean enough for your cat? Are the areas that they like to hang out in safe and clean?
-Is your cat getting the proper nutrition? You may want to ask your veterinarian what they recommend feeding your cat. Getting the proper nutrition not only affects a cat’s physical health, but their mental health as well.
-Does your cat have things to do while you’re away? Do they have a nice perch to look out of the window from and a good amount of toys to play with? Tip: Leaving the radio on while you’re out can comfort a cat. Just hearing the sound of people’s voices can do wonders for a lonely kitty.
-Are you giving your kitty enough stimulation? Make sure that you’re playing with your cat as often as possible. If you notice that your cat is in the mood to be active, indulge them by playing with interactive string toys and chase games.
-Are you giving your cat enough attention? Although cats may act shy or aloof, they are actually social creatures who thrive on human interaction. Make sure to give your kitty enough love and affection every day. A simple 20-minute petting session can boost your cat’s spirits, as well as improve your overall health.

A sad cat is nothing to brush off and should be dealt with as quickly as possible. It may take some time to bring your cat out of their depression, but it is entirely possible for any kitty. Regardless of if they’re just bored or in mourning, your cat would certainly rather be happy and energetic than depressed and lethargic. So just remember to keep an open dialogue with your veterinarian, be sure to give your kitty lots of love and attention, and you’ll have a happy-go-lucky furbaby in no time.