Do you suspect that your cat may be feeling blue, and wonder what can be done to get your cat back into good spirits? Cat depression is a real condition, and can be the result of a number of different factors—and treated in a variety of ways.
Causes of Cat Depression
As with humans, certain circumstances—the loss of a loved one or other major life change—can send cats into a depression. Lack of stimulation, too, can result in your cat being in a funk; in fact, up to 40 percent of cats may act depressed as a result of boredom. Here are more common causes of cat depression:
- Alterations to your cat’s daily activities
- Being left alone too long (there’s a misconception is that it’s OK to leave cats alone for days, but this can send felines into a depression)
- Losing a pet companion
- A chemical imbalance
- Introducing a new family member to the home
- Loss of daylight hours in the winter
- Stressed pet parents (your moods can affect pets’ mental health, too)
Symptoms of Depression in Cats
If your cat is acting unusual in any way—from an increase or decrease in activity, appetite, or making sounds or vocalizations—it could be a sign of depression. Additional symptoms include:
- Sleeping all the time
- Hiding, crouching
- Engaging less with humans
- No longer engaging in self-grooming
- Not enjoying the things she or he used to like
- Having accidents or litter-box problems
- Aggressive behavior, such as biting, scratching, or hissing
- Engaging in destructive activities around the home
- Meowing or crying more than usual
- Needing more attention than usual
Treatment Options for Cats with Depression
See your vet: If your cat is exhibiting any of the symptoms of depression described here, take your pet to the vet for a full checkup to rule out any serious health conditions that may need immediate care. Mental health is strongly linked to physical well-being. Your vet will likely do blood-work and may take x-rays during the physical exam.
Exercise: Doting on and playing with your cat more often—including planning daily exercise into your routine, picking out toys your little guy will love, and providing scratching posts or other materials to keep your pet active—may help fight off boredom-related depression. Making sure your cat gets 30 minutes of physical activity a day can help. If you are aware of factors that are going to affect your cat’s day-to-day, help your pet transition to the changes as much as you can. In the winter, make sure your cat gets enough daylight or add a lamp where your cat spends time.
Medicinal Options: If the depression is the result of a chemical issue, medication is a treatment option. Be sure to talk to your vet about side effects of the drugs. Also, since cats are not always receptive to swallowing pills, you may want to ask for a demonstration from your vet on how to give your pet an oral medication.
More on Cat Health
What Happens During Your Cat's Examination
How To Prevent Dental Health Problems in Cats
What Can Affect a Cat's Lifespan?
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.