How to Treat Cat Depression
Bring your cat to the veterinarian for an exam to rule out any illnesses or health conditions. Many of the symptoms of feline depression — such as lethargy, lack of appetite, excessive hiding, unusual vocalizations and elimination issues — can be caused by a variety of medical conditions.
Consult with your veterinarian about possibly putting your cat on an antidepressant medication once he is given a clean bill of health. These medications, including diazepam and fluoxetine, are prescribed to cats experiencing extended periods of depression.
Spritz a synthetic cat pheromone spray around your home to lift your cat’s spirits. These pheromones mimic your cat’s natural facial pheromones and help to soothe him.
Add a few drops of a natural flower essence in your cat’s food or water. These herbal remedies are sold in pet supply stores and may help to improve your cat’s mood naturally.
Give your cat toys to play with. Play with him using cat toys on strings that you can wave in front of him or battery-powered toys that move automatically. These toys distract your cat and encourage him to exercise, improving his outlook and alleviating his depression.
Play soft, relaxing music that your cat enjoys. Classical music may help reduce negative emotions, such as depression and anxiety, in your cat, according to Veterinary Practice News.
Get a companion cat for your existing one, if he is morning the passing of a feline friend. Sometimes the presence of a new companion to play with can get your cat out of his depressed state.
Open the curtains and blinds in your home to expose your cat to sunshine. Sunlight helps to improve mood. A sunny window perch might be just the thing to cheer up your cat. A cat tree in front of a sunny window also works well. Plus, your cat will have a view of the outside to entertain himself if boredom is contributing to his depression.
Clinical Signs of Cat Depression
Cat depression can make your pet lose interest in his food, make him lethargic, and make him avoid the company of others. Cats get depressed when they or their owners are stressed or bereaved. You can help your cat cope with symptoms of depression, but first you’ve got to know what they are. Here’s how you can recognize the clinical signs of cat depression.
Depressed Cats Lose Their Appetites
Your cat’s appetite may diminish, and he may begin leaving food behind in his dish when once he ate it all. Or, your cat may go off his food entirely, leaving the food for hours or even days. He’ll show no interest in eating. He’ll even refuse favorite cat treats.Of course, you should rule out the possibility of some physical problem that might be affecting your cat’s appetite. Abscessed teeth, for instance, can make eating so painful that your cat will stop trying to eat.
Depressed Cats Avoid the Company of Humans
One of the classic signs of cat depression is avoidance of human company. Your depressed cat may begin hiding in corners, under furniture and in disused rooms. He might become sullen and quiet.On the other side of the coin, bereaved cats who have lost a close companion, such as another cat or human, may begin vocalizing much more than normal. They may look around the house as if trying to find their missing friend.
Depressed Cats Become Less Active
Cats sleep a lot, but a cat suffering from depression will sleep even more than usual. His activity level will decrease; he’ll lose interest in play and may seem withdrawn.
Depressed Cats Display Abnormal Behavior
There are several other symptoms of cat depression that may or may not appear in all cats. Many cats may cease to groom themselves, and their coats may become dirty and matted. His activity y become more aggressive than normal, hissing, biting, and scratching even when unprovoked. Depressed cats may start spraying or stop using the litter box correctly.
Helping Your Cat Cope with Depression
Cats can become depressed when they experience the loss of a close companion, whether that companion be another animal or a human in their lives. Cats can become depressed when they experience high levels of stress in their lives, such as those experienced by cats at animal shelters. Cats can even become depressed when their owners are experiencing emotional trauma and bereavement. Cats are sensitive to their owners’ emotions and sometimes owners can unwittingly transmit their own feelings of pain and sadness to their cats.
If you think that your cat is depressed, don’t despair. Talk the matter over with your vet; there may be antidepressant medications available to help your cat recover from the symptoms of depression. Above all, help your depressed cat cope by giving him lots of extra love and attention; try to tempt him with special treats and favorite toys. The thing that cats with depression need the most is to feel loved; be patient and with time your cat can recover from the symptoms of depression.
Symptoms of Depression in Cats
Cats often are pretty sleepy creatures, but depressed ones tend to sleep even more than usual. Observe your cat’s sleeping routine. If you notice that she’s asleep more and is less active in general, depression could be at fault. Unhappy felines often tend to exhibit uncharacteristically low energy, whether it comes to playing with toys or exploring around your home.
Appetite changes often are indicative of kitty stress. If your precious pet usually scarfs down her supper like there’s no tomorrow, but all of a sudden just couldn’t care less, consider her overall mood. Melancholy cats eat less and, unsurprisingly, usually lose weight as a result. Monitor your cat’s eating habits and her weight.
Grooming differences also could be related to depression. At one end of the spectrum, a depressed cat may stop grooming or caring for her coat entirely. At the other end, she may do so in excess to the point of pulling out large clumps of hair with her teeth — yikes! This obsessive licking and hair-pulling also is a very common symptom of cat anxiety, which usually goes hand in hand with feline depression.
When a normally friendly cat suddenly begins behaving distantly, look into the possibility of depression. If your sweet kitty used to snuggle up right next to you to sleep, but now instead hides from you all of the time, the problem could be a little more serious than a mere bad mood. Your cat may hide away in faraway areas of your home and just be a lot quieter in general. For cats that normally are on the grouchy side, however, this symptom may be difficult to notice!
In some instances, depressed cats become a lot louder. To voice dissatisfaction, your not-so-happy camper may become increasingly vocal, especially at night when the whole house is trying to get some sleep! Look for loud and persistent yowling and meowing sounds. Excessive vocalization is common especially in feline depression caused by the loss of an owner or fellow pet companion.
Normally relaxed and peaceful kitties suddenly may become aggressive and irritable due to depression. If your cat growls and hisses whenever any unsuspecting individual approaches — whether it is you or another pet — depression is a possibility. Unhappy cats also may try to attack more, so be very careful when around them.
Litter Box Issues
Messy and icky litter box issues also could be a sign of feline depression. When a normally well-behaved cat out of nowhere starts having accidents on your floor, something is definitely wrong. Cats also may act out their anxiety and frustration by territorial urine spraying in your home.
A cat can get depressed because of big changes, such as the passing of one of her most beloved companions or moving to a totally different and bigger house. A cat can get depressed because of various health conditions, including kidney disease and diabetes. Whatever the cause, veterinary attention is crucial. Your kitty is worth it.
Cats and change go together about as well as peanut butter and spaghetti — that is to say, not well at all. Felines are very routine-oriented and because of this are very vulnerable to stress, anxiety and depression amidst unfamiliarity. Some examples of changes that can lead to kitty depression are the death of a beloved family member or fluffy companion, moving to a new home and the emergence of a new pet or baby in the household. All of these factors often make for a not-so-happy cat.
Tension and fighting can also make cats feel at unease. Cats are very intuitive creatures and are more aware of their surroundings than you may think. If a married couple is in the throes of a messy divorce, a pet may pick up on all of the telltale fighting and conflict. When the household isn’t happy, kitty won’t be happy, either. Cats, not unlike many humans, thrive on routine, predictability and harmony.
If you’re not quite as intuitive as your fluff ball, then it may not be easy for you to notice your cat’s emotional roller coaster. However, a lot of cats make their depression and anxiety obvious. Look for key hints that all is not merry in your cat’s world, such as appetite loss, grooming neglect, too much grooming, unusually aggressive behavior, decreased physical activity, hiding away from humans, sleeping more, litter box problems and loud meowing and yowling. All of these signs point to something being amiss, so pay close attention.
Even if you feel helpless, you can assist your kitty in getting through the rough patch. When cats are stressed out and depressed, a little bit — or a lot — of love, attention and TLC can go a long way. Get your pet’s mind off her woes by spending quality time with her. Rub her belly as you watch Monday night television. Throw her catnip ball across the room so she can chase it. Get her an interactive motorized toy mouse. Make a point to have a positive interaction with your cat at least once a day. She is worth it, after all. If a new pet or baby in the home is the issue, your cat’s depression could be related to feeling overwhelmed. If this is the case, set up a calm and quiet haven within your home for your cat. Give your pet a relaxing sanctuary to be away from it all, full of water, food, toys and maybe even a scenic window perch!
If your cat’s depression doesn’t seem to be letting up any time soon, schedule an appointment with the veterinarian immediately. Her unusual behavior could be a sign of another health condition, whether kidney disease or diabetes. Your veterinarian also may be able to prescribe a temporary anti-anxiety medication for your on-edge bundle of joy.