What You Should Know about Cat Depression

Cat Depression As much as cats are so adorable, they can often be somewhat tempestuous or grumpy and are usually seen as more antagonistic and less forgiving than other pets. Many cat owners have noticed sudden changes in their cats’ behavior, making them ask themselves if cat depression is real and if their cats are suffering from depression. 

What is Cat Depression?

Depression is most commonly seen in humans, and it’s marked by personality and mood changes, depressed mood or constant misery, and loss of motivation or interest. Although these are rampant in humans, wild animals, livestock, and even pets can develop depression. 

Depression in cats is primarily a short-term response to a change or changes in their lives. Some cats are susceptible, and they may develop mild depression over what seems like minor issues, like bringing in a new cat or moving their litter boxes.

Cats have different personalities, with some being more social than others, but it shouldn’t be a concern if a usually outgoing cat is suddenly reserved and quiet.

If your cat is depressed, she will exhibit unusual behavior that will tell you that she’s not okay. Your cat might show changes in its activity level, behavior, and appetite, which are some of the common signs of depression. Your cat might also display physical symptoms like lethargy and nausea, which are cat depression indicators.

Mostly, cat owners have no clue why their cat is depressed or sad, but by observing some of these signs, you can find out what could be causing it, and what you can do to reduce or arrest it.

Symptoms of Cat Depression

Cat depression is somehow similar to depression in human beings; it can alter personality and mood norms, and it can go unnoticed for a while before noticing something unusual with your cat. 

Some of the common symptoms of cat depression include:

Communication ChangesIf your cat is ordinarily vocal when asking for something, like if she needs food, wants some affectionor wants to go outdoors, these verbal requests and commands may suddenly stop or decrease. If she is usually reserved and quiet, she may suddenly get agitated and loud without cause, which may be signs of cat depression.

  1. Bowel Changes
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If your cat has been using his litter box ideally and begins defecating or urinating anywhere else but in the litter box, it could be a sign of depression. Your cat might start relieving herself on the carpet, or hiding their stool under blankets, shoes, or bags, or in houseplants, which isn’t a good sign.

  1. Appetite Changes

If your cat is depressed, she may experience a loss of appetite, though her feeding desire might increase in some instances. If your cat has been a healthy eater and suddenly stops drinking water or leaves food untouched, it could be a clear symptom of depression or any other condition. 

  1. Sleep Changes

Depressed cats may show changes in their usual sleeping patterns. Your cat may suddenly start sleeping more, less, or in unusual places. Generally, any depressed creature’s willingness and ability to sleep will be affected by depression, cats included.

  1. Body Language

Your cat’s body language indicates whether she is happy or depressed; fur standing on end, tucked tail, and held back ears are some signs that your cat is depressed.

  1. Fear/ Aggression

Depressed cats are more reactive and tend to act out aggressively or become very fearful. If your cat becomes abnormally scared or aggressive, it could be a sign of depression.

  1. Personality Changes 

A depressed cat will be uninterested in activities that used to interest him, become withdrawn, and hide. More reserved cats might become demanding or clingy, and they may exhibit heightened fear to strangers when they’re depressed.

  1. Alterations in Grooming or Poor Grooming

If your cat is depressed, she will often stop grooming herself, resulting in a very untidy looking coat. 

  1. Excessive Scratching

Depressed cats often begin scratching objects and surfaces more than usual to mark their territories and relieve stress.

Causes of Cat Depression

Mostly, cat depression doesn’t develop slowly or due to hereditary factors, but some recent events trigger it. Cats are sensitive naturally, and they can react significantly to changes in scenery and routine or stressors. It’s essential for cat owners to identify the cause of their cats’ depression, treat it and prevent it in the future.

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Some of the common causes of cat depression include:

  1. Lifestyle &Social Changes

Change is difficult for cats, and it quickly results in depression. It doesn’t have to be a significant change; your cat may get depressed because of introducing a new pet in your home or changing her diet. 

Small things like coming with a new baby at home, changing routine, or even having visitors can also cause cat depression. Additionally, if your job becomes more demanding and you’re away more than usual, your cat might get bored and get depressed. 

Your cat may become depressed if new cats come to your home, she doesn’t get along well with another pet, if you have other cats and they have to share resources and space. Changing your cat’s feeding, playtime, relaxation, or sleeping times can result in cat depression. 

  1. Illness 

Illness and injury is a tricky cause of cat depression since most cat depression symptoms mimic illness. However, depressed cats may be ill cats, whether their illnesses are easily curable like Urinary Tract Infection or chronic ones like cancer. Illness might make your cat to be in pain, nauseous, lose appetite, lose energy, or experience hormonal imbalance, making her unhappy. 

  1. Injury

Injuries may hinder your cat from doing things she once enjoyed, which can be depressing. Pain resulting from an injury or old surgeries make your cat unhappy, which can lead to depression. 

  1. Inadequate Attention

Domesticated cats need adequate attention and affection to function appropriately. If your cat feels inadequately loved, she may develop into depression.

  1. Loss of Loved Ones

Cats can develop depression if they lose a loved one, be it a parent, an owner, a sibling, or a kitten. If a family member (animal or human) moves out or passes away, your cat might grieve and sink into depression. 

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Mostly, this is a short-term behaviour, but if the cause of depression is the death of another cat in your home, you can try and bring another cat for companionship and see if it works or not!

  1. Environment changes

Changing your home or cat’s environment is a leading cause of cat depression. Simple changes like moving furniture,introducing new furniture, carpets, or paintings, and moving her litter trays, water, and food bowls can cause depression. 

If your cat’s favorite hiding or resting place suddenly becomes inaccessible, she could become depressed. If you move house, your cat may become depressed if she can’t locate her litter trays, water and food bowls, usual sleeping area, and scratching posts. 

Some cats will find unusual smells depressing; avoid using strong-scented air fresheners or candles in room where your cat likes visiting, significantly if you must change the scents often.

  1. Phobias and Fears

Some cats have phobias and fears, which can make them depressed. Some of the most common cat phobias and fears that may cause depression include travelling in a car, strangers, unfamiliar surroundings, and loud noises or fireworks

Treatment/Management of Cat Depression

If you notice some tell-tale depression symptoms in your cat, you can do any or all of the following to ease the depression and enable her to go back to her old self:

  1. Seek Professional Help

Cat depression symptoms can mimic other illnesses, including chronic conditions like pancreatitis, kidney failure, and diabetes. Primarily, cat illnesses will result in discomfort, which can make your cat exhibit cat depression symptoms. Before deciding that your cat is depressed, take him to a vet to rule out other severe conditions.

  1. Identify the Cause/Trigger of your cat’s Depression

If the vet rules out medical conditions, the most prevalent cause of your cat’s depression might be environmental or social changes. Try to maintain the usual routines that your cat is used to, avoid moving furniture around too often, and always give her assurance that she is safe. Don’t move her litter trays, food, and water bowls, or her sleeping place too often since it could make her depressed.

  1. Give Your Cat Attention/ Create Time to Be With Her
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If you have recently changed jobs or spending extra time away from home than you usually would, this can make your cat depressed; she might feel like she isn’t getting affection and attention. 

Spending some quality time with your cat goes a long way in easing cat depression. Take some time to sit, play, and hold her daily, assuring her that you’re always there for her. 

  1. Facilitate Your Cat’s Playtime

In some instances, if your cat is bored, she might become depressed. Engaging your cat in rewarding playtime helps keep boredom at bay while keeping her happier and healthier. 

Several unique and safe cat toys are available in the market that can keep your cat busy in your absence, killing boredom. Some cat toys require your presence, which helps you bond with your cat during playtime. 

  1. Create a Place Where Your Cat Can Climb and Hide

Naturally, cats are climbers; if they are in the wild, they look for high points to hide from potential predators and assess the terrain. 

Creating vertical spaces for your cat to act out similarly to the wilderness can significantly reduce the stress that may result in cat depression.

  1. Give Your Cat Privacy

Well, you might not understand the fact that cats need their privacy to be happy, but this is the plain truth! If you’ve brought a new pet or new people to your home, give your cat a place they can enjoy their “alone time,” in an enclosed space. 

  1. Bring in the Experts

If the above tips don’t help alleviate or treat your cat’s depression, you should bring in the experts! A board-certified veterinarian or behaviorist might administer behavior alteration exercises or specific treatments like homeopathic treatments, nutritional supplements, or acupuncture that will help treat your cat’s depression.

Is Your Cat Recovering From Depression?

A great indicator that your cat is getting better following treatment is if she’s getting her personality back; if she starts eating and sleeping like before and comes out of her hiding places, it indicates that she’s getting better.

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How to Prevent Cat Depression

If you want to ensure that your cat doesn’t or will never get depressed, you can do the following to keep depression at bay:

  1. Ensure that your cat doesn’t lack anything that makes her comfortable and happy; this includes access to litter trays, scratching posts, food and water bowls. Keep the litter trays away from food and water bowls; failure to do this could make your cat refuse to eat.
  2. Ideally, one cat needs 2 water points, beds, and little trays. If you have several cats, it’s ideal to have one water point, bed, and litter tray for each. If you have a small space and have other pets besides your cat, try feeding your cat separately, to avoid making her anxious. 
  3. Ensure that your cat has different hiding places that make them feel safe; these could be cardboard boxes, igloo beds, or elevated spaces that offer comfort and a feeling of safety.
  4. Try to keep your routine constant; observe the same playing, sleeping, and feeding times for your cat.
  5. Don’t clean all your cat’s blankets and beds at once; leave them with a familiar smelling fabric to ensure their comfort.
  6. Ensure that you keep your cat busy and active; look for the most suitable toy cats for your cat, depending on her sage and size. Leave your cat with these toys when you are away to keep them busy, which significantly helps in reducing her stress levels that could eventually lead to depression. Additionally, hide treats, scatter food around, or use puzzle feeders so that your cat has to look for their treats, which keeps them busy.

In conclusion, no matter what you think might be causing your cat’s depression, it’s essential to get professional advice since different treatments will work differently depending on the cat’s symptoms and causes of depression. 




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