Cat Depression Treatments - What Are Your Options? How To Tell if Your Cat Is Depressed, And What You Can Do About It

Cat Depression Treatments - What Are Your Options?

Depression strikes cats in much the same way it does people -- they shrink away from others, act moodily, and are generally lethargic. It can be difficult to see your cat feeling so down in the dumps, but thanks to modern medicine, there are a slew of cat depression treatments that can help put that spring back into your kitty's step. Check out what your options are here.

Depression stinks. Nothing is worse than taking an otherwise upbeat personality and putting it through the ringer. It's something that affects most of us at one point or another, but did you know it can also take hold of your cat? Often coming hot on the heels of a major change (i.e., a move to a new place, a new baby, or a death in the family), your cat might seem more reserved, a little on edge, or exhibit other common signs of depression.

Typically, cats suffering from depression stop grooming, become aggressivesleep longer, hide, and/or exhibit a general malaise. Sad cats might also show changes in eating habits, body positions, or even develop fatty liver disease due to lack of appetite. If you suspect that your cat is depressed, it can be worrisome. Thankfully, there are a number of different ways to help treat your cat's depression.

First Steps to Treating Cat Depression

Before you do anything else, try just giving out some extra love. It could be that your cat feels neglected, in which case some additional attention might be just what the doctor ordered. Spend quality time with your furry friend. This could involve interactive play with their favorite treats, interactive toys, or just some cuddles. Sometimes, independent creatures like cats need extra attention, especially if they are an only pet or have recently lost a feline friend or companion animal.

If that isn’t working, you can try some over-the-counter homeopathic remedies. Mint family herbs, like catnip, can sometimes help. Additionally, ensure that their environmental enrichment is up to par. Adding a bird feeder outside a window can provide entertainment for indoor cats, and new climbing structures or cozy spots can make their environment more stimulating.

If all else fails, you should take your cat over to the vet immediately and see what they think. Medical issues can often be an underlying condition for behavioral changes. The vet will check for dental problems, weight loss, or other health conditions that might be affecting your cat's overall health. They might prescribe your cat one of the following medications, depending on the symptoms your cat is exhibiting and the overall nature of their condition.

Medication and Professional Treatment Options

To help edify you on what your options are, here are some key features of the most commonly prescribed cat depression treatments. Medications like Prozac or other antidepressants might be recommended if there are no underlying medical conditions causing the behavior problems.

Antidepressant-Type Medications


  • Tricyclic antidepressant
  • Helps by adjusting/balancing brain chemicals
  • Reduces anxiety and modifies behavioral problems
  • Helpful for managing fear of noises, excessive grooming, spraying, or other destructive behaviors


  • Tricyclic antidepressant
  • Blocks dopamine receptors
  • Helps reduce depression, noise phobias, and other anxiety-related behaviors like OCD
  • Also works as an antihistamine


  • Generic of Prozac
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant
  • Works by blocking the reabsorption of serotonin in the brain, changing the chemical balance and helping the brain send and receive messages.
  • Helps deal with depression, anxiety, OCD, and panic disorders

Anti anxiety-Type Medications


  • Generic of Xanax
  • Helps treat phobias, separation anxiety, situational fears, or depression
  • Also works as a muscle relaxant, anticonvulsant, or appetite stimulant

Buspirone HcL

  • Generic of Buspar
  • Helps manage anxiety or phobia related behavior
  • Causes mild sedation due to its effect on the serotonin receptors

Antipsychotic-Type Medications


  • Generic of Thorazine
  • Produces immediate results, calming your cat quickly after taking the medication
  • One of the most widely used antipsychotic drugs
  • Reduces aggressive behavior and nausea, eliciting a tranquilizing effect

Quetiapine Fumarate

  • Changes the way your cat's brain chemicals behave
  • Used to treat schizophrenia and severe depression
  • Should never be given with other antidepressants


  • Helps restore the balance of the brain's natural chemicals
  • Treats various mood disorders -- depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, and aggression
  • Cats with glaucoma should not take

Behavioral Changes and Long-Term Care

Monitoring behavioral changes and ensuring self-care is critical. Encourage your cat to return to their normal self by maintaining a consistent daily routine. This helps reduce stress and provides a sense of stability. If your cat is spending longer periods of time hiding, it could be indicative of temporary behavior changes due to stress, or it could signal something more serious.

Understanding your cat's body language and recognizing subtle signs of distress can help you address issues before they escalate. Remember, most cats, whether they are outdoor cats or indoor cats, can experience depression, and with the right approach, you can help your sad cat feel better. Always seek professional advice if you're unsure, and together, both you and your furry friend can navigate through this challenging time.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do for my depressed cat?

If you suspect that your cat is suffering from depression, it is important to take them to a veterinarian for a thorough examination. Depression can be caused by various factors, such as physical illness, changes in the environment, or a lack of social interaction, and a veterinarian will be able to determine the underlying cause and recommend the appropriate treatment. In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to try to improve your cat's mood and well-being. Provide plenty of opportunities for play and exercise. This can help your cat stay physically and mentally active, which can help improve its mood. Make sure your cat has plenty of mental stimulation. Provide toys and other objects that encourage your cat to use its natural hunting and play behaviors. Spend time with your cat. Provide your cat with regular social interaction, including grooming and playing, to help strengthen your bond and improve their mood. Keep your cat's environment enriched. Provide plenty of hiding places, perches, and scratching posts to keep your cat engaged and stimulated. Keep your cat's routine consistent. Cats thrive on routine, so try to maintain a consistent feeding and play schedule to help your cat feel more secure. Again, it is important to consult with a veterinarian if you suspect your cat is suffering from depression. They will be able to recommend a treatment plan that is tailored to your cat's specific needs.

Does catnip help a depressed cat?

Catnip is a plant that contains a chemical called nepetalactone, which can have a stimulating effect on some cats. Many cats seem to enjoy the scent of catnip and will react to it by rolling around, rubbing their faces in it, and possibly becoming more playful. Some people believe that catnip can have a positive effect on a cat's mood and may help to reduce stress and anxiety. However, it is important to keep in mind that not all cats are affected by catnip in the same way, and some cats may not respond to it at all. Also, while catnip may provide temporary enjoyment for some cats, it is not a proven treatment for depression and should not be used as a substitute for medical care. If your cat is experiencing symptoms of depression, it is important to seek help from a veterinarian to determine the cause and to receive appropriate treatment.

How long does cat depression last?

It is not uncommon for cats to experience changes in their behavior and mood, and these changes can sometimes be associated with depression. The duration of cat depression can vary depending on the underlying cause and the effectiveness of treatment. If your cat is experiencing depression, it is important to work with a veterinarian or a feline behaviorist to identify and address the underlying cause. In some cases, depression in cats may be resolved with changes to the cat's environment, diet, or routine. It can also be resolved through the use of medication or other therapeutic interventions. In other cases, however, depression may be more persistent and may require ongoing management. It is important to note that cats can exhibit a wide range of normal behaviors and moods, and it can be difficult to determine whether a change in behavior is due to depression or some other cause. If you are concerned about your cat's behavior or mood, it is important to consult with a veterinarian or a feline behaviorist for guidance and support.

What does a depressed cat act like?

Cats can exhibit a variety of signs when they are feeling depressed, just like people do. A depressed cat may lose interest in food and stop eating or drinking. It may become more inactive and sleep more than usual. Depressed cats may stop grooming themselves or start grooming excessively. It may become more isolated or withdrawn or may start displaying destructive behavior such as excessive scratching or urinating outside the litter box. It may become more vocal or may become quiet and stop meowing.

What causes feline depression?

Feline depression, like depression in humans, can have many causes. Cats are creatures of habit, and they can become depressed if there are significant changes in their environment, such as moving to a new home or the loss of a family member or companion. Cats can become depressed if they are experiencing chronic pain or other health issues. Cats need mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy. If they are not getting enough stimulation, they may become depressed. Cats are social animals, and they need interaction with humans and other animals to thrive. If a cat is left alone for long periods of time, it may become depressed. As cats get older, they may experience changes in their physical and mental health that can contribute to depression. If you suspect that your cat is depressed, it is important to consult with a veterinarian or a feline behavior specialist to determine the cause and develop a treatment plan.
More of Cat Depression

Cat Depression Signs and Solutions
Your Lethargic Cat -- How to Tell They Are One, and What You Can Do To Help
Top 7 Adopted Cat Health Problems

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