Is your Cat Depressed, and if so, what can you do?

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If you are a meme fan, you might have surely come across the popular character “Grumpy Cat.” However, what you might not know is the fact that cats surely do get grumpy and it could be a result of prolonged depression. We generally assume that a cat isn’t as friendly as a dog. They tend to maintain their distance and take time to trust their owners. However, this doesn’t mean that your cat is actually depressed. There are certain temperament and personality traits that take over your feline when they are in depression.

 

 

But first, let us understand whether or not cats actually get depressed.

 

How is Depression defined in Cats?

Cats can certainly exhibit traits that point out to the fact that they might be depressed. However, they don’t experience emotional changes like humans do when they are diagnosed with clinical depression. In general, human depression can be termed as a multi-factorial disease. For us, depression might be situational, medical, or even due to certain chemical imbalances that happen in our brain.

 

 

However, when talking about the cats, these criteria aren’t available with the veterinarians. We cannot exactly determine how and what the cat is feeling at a given point. However, there is a close enough list that can help decode your feline’s current mood.

 

Cat Sound Mood Possible Depression
Purring (Occasional) Happiness

 

No
Purring (Abnormally Increased) Sickness

 

Yes
Meow Hunger or Need

 

Yes
Yowling (Intense Human-like Scream) Discomfort, Pain, or Fight Yes
Chirping Excitement

 

No
Hissing Aggression

 

Yes
Growling Tenderness or Pain

 

Yes
Caterwauling (Shrilled Yelling) Reproductive Action

 

No

 

The visible clinical signs known for a cat with depression include:

  • Appetite Loss
  • Avoidance Behavior
  • Minimally Active Lifestyle
  • Abnormal Behavior
  • Changes in Usage of Litter Box
  • Disturbed Sleep Patterns
  • Overeating/Refrain from eating
  • Excessive Vocalization
  • Avoiding affection

 

Other issues that might cause depression-like symptoms in Cats

 

 

Unfortunately, these clinical signs can be caused due to a wide array of conditions among the felines. Understanding the root cause generally involves a veterinarian consultation to ensure that your pet doesn’t actually have a life-threatening issue. Medical problems like GI cancer, kidney diseases, or similar issues can lead to decreased appetite or nausea like circumstances that tend to mimic the symptoms of feline depression.

In most cases, pain is one of the most under-diagnosed issues in cats, especially the senior ones. Prolonged pain has been dubbed as one of the leading reasons for clinical depression among the felines.

 

Evaluation Process for Feline Depression

Veterinarians can start their evaluation by opting for a complete history of visible symptoms & performing a complete examination of the physical body.

The list of tests opted by your veterinarian will include:

  • Chest X-Rays
  • Blood work
  • Abdominal Ultrasound
  • MRI
  • Stool Test
  • Skin-Infection Test
  • Urine Test
  • Spinal Tap

Depending on the condition that is detected from these tests, your veterinarian can suggest other tests to confirm the issue. In most cases, the reason for depression in a cat is an illness that goes undetected.

Often your veterinarian could be concerned about the possibility of neurological issues that could be affecting the brain or spine. Nervous system issues such as:

  • Inflammatory diseases
  • Tumors
  • Infections

And many more can lead to significant changes in the behavior. It could be the stepping stone to the creation of depression-like circumstances. Even though cats are known to be resilient and independent beings, they can actually suffer from issues such as anxiety due to reasons like:

  • Routine Change
  • Feeling Threatened
  • Loss/Addition of a Family Member

Anxiety is among the primary factors that lead to chronic stress and hence, depression when left undiagnosed.

Symptoms, as stated below, can be traced to the presence of anxiety in the feline:

  • Aggression
  • Self-Inflicted Hair Loss
  • Changes in Feeding Pattern

Depression from death among cats

Despite being termed as an animal that maintains its distance and stays aloof, they too form a strong bond with other cats or the human who lives with them. Being a social animal, depression in feline could often stem from the loss of their companions. It is critical that you refrain from forcing attention on your depressed cat. However, you should surely try and make her/him feel special every now and then with extra cuddles or some treats, but only if she is open to the same. Offer your kitty the very same compassion and love you would want after you or your family member loses a loved one.

 

Depression from Lack of Interaction

Most of us assume that the cats are lone runners who do not need or rather do not want human interaction like the way other animals such as dogs do. However, this statement is far from the actual truth. Although some of the cats tend to enjoy human interaction more than others, every cat requires a certain amount of attention and interaction from their companions. Any lack of attention might lead to depression among cats.

If you very recently brought home a feline that had been neglected for long, you have to be particularly gentle with him/her. You might try and bring out the interactive toys such as wands that come with beautiful dangling feathers. It will encourage cats to play & interact, as well. If you haven’t been able to make time for your feline, you might try and bring him/her another cat that can encourage exercise, companionship, or remove boredom.

 

Space Invasion and Depression in Cats

Now, let’s talk about how your cat loves his/her personal space. If your cat wants to be with you, they will definitely show that by signs such as:

  • Rubbing their body with yours
  • Sleeping by your side
  • Touching your body with their paw
  • Purring in a relaxing tone

Unless they do anything like this by themselves, your cat might not want to be disturbed in any sense. You will often see that the cats tend to pick a hidden corner in the room and make themselves comfortable in the area. However, there could be times when the cats will feel that their privacy has been invaded.

Take, for instance, that a guest has arrived at your house and the whole area is crowded with children playing around. Your cat might seek a place with isolation, and the lack of it might get them agitated. In such cases, you need to make sure that the cat actually likes the company and attention. If not, you should try and create a separate safe house for them in any corner of the house that is free from that entire crowd.

 

Lack of Exercise: Could It Cause Depression Among Cats?

Keeping the cat active & providing proper mental stimulation can help reduce behavior-related issues such as hyperactivity, aggression, uncontrolled licking, self-mutilation, as well as unnecessary marking. Boredom is one of the popular reasons for depression among humans, so it seems genuine that your feline might be affected by the same. With a lack of sufficient motivation to live, most species start isolating themselves from everyone and start developing depression.

Most of the cat species, both wild and domestic, will sleep all day long for a substantial section of their life. However, when amid nature, they have a specific duration dedicated to hunting, social interaction, as well as playing. When in a secure home environment, they tend to lack these facilities, especially the hunting part. You can recreate a nature-like environment for them by performing tasks like jumping, chasing, hunting, and climbing. It will keep them busy till it’s time for them to retire to their beds.

 

Physical Benefits of Exercise for Cats Mental Benefits of Exercise for Cats
Better Metabolic Rate Better Connection Between the Cat and its Owner
Proper Muscle Strength and Toned Body Mental Stimulation
Enhanced Joint Flexibility Stress Reduction
Better Bone Strength Emotional Well-Being
Boosted Immune System Stabilized Sleep Patterns
Aids Digestion Reduced Behavioral Issues
Longer Life General Friendliness Restored

 

How Can You Treat Your Cat’s Depression?

If you suspect that your cat is suffering from depression, you need not fret and worry. Here are some tips you could try to bounce back your cat to his/her happiest self.

  • Visit the Veterinarian:

The signs and symptoms that suggest your cat might be suffering from depression can actually be a tell-tale sign of various other medical issues such as kidney failure, diabetes, as well as pancreatitis. Most of the medical issues cause a degree of discomfort. Your cat could actually be in prolonged pain while manifesting the symptoms of depression. So, before you assume the issue to be simply depression, you need to check with the vet to cross off any potential for serious diseases.

  • Locate the Cause for Depression:

Once the vet has ruled out all possible medical conditions, you need to find out what exactly could be the issue with your cat. Traceback your steps and try to find out whether you or any of your family members have changed the feeding habits of your feline. Additionally, you also need to look out for changes such as:

  • Bedding Changes
  • New Cat or Dog in the family
  • Change of house/shifting to a new house

Once you have located the cause of your cat’s depression and anxiety, you should start working on the next step.

  • Spend Time With Your Cat:

Cats aren’t the same as the pack animals but they need your time as well as attention. Most veterinarians suggest that spending some quality time playing and trying to converse with the cat can aid in reducing the degree of depression. You need to let them understand that you are there to care for them. Do not forget opting for activities such as:

  • Stroking the fur
  • Cuddling
  • Sleeping together
  • Warm words
  • Encourage Playtime for the Cat:

Give some toys to your cat to play with. It will take away the boredom and help them learn new things they would have surely learned in the wild. They can learn to pounce, leap, climb, or stalk. With an informative playtime, your cat will develop keen senses like smell, hearing, as well as vision. Plus, you can also try out something interesting such as laser lights. Cats love chasing that red dot, and they will try their best to catch the same. However, this can go sideways if they keep trying with no accompanied rewards. You need to provide them with treats to ensure that they are happy as they play. Many people prefer Petstages cat tracks & SmartyKat Catnip cat toys for their beloved pets; you can find many more on Amazon.com.

  • Give the Cat Something to Climb & Hide:

Cats are climbers by nature. They will always try and seek out the highest possible vantage points in order to survey their terrain while hiding from the predators. You can do your part by giving the cats a vertical place to uncover their natural and DNA-embedded instincts. It is important that your cats feel like they have their own safe space. It is like a holiday retreat for them for their personal time.

  • Talk to An Animal Behaviorist:

If all of these suggestions do not help the depression sessions of your cat, it is time that you call the experts for help. A certified behaviorist for animals can help you decide which treatment course is best for your feline. He/she can suggest treatments like nutritional supplements, acupuncture, homeopathic treatments, and so on. Remember, all cats are different, and the treatment for individual pets will be different depending on the signs & symptoms they show.

 

Conclusion

With conditions such as depression, one size, or in this case, one treatment won’t fit all. The line of treatment you need to opt will vary depending upon the history, diseases, nature, and surroundings of your feline. So, if your feline is feeling “Down,” you need to improve their lifestyle and physical health. Remember, depression isn’t something just psychological; the effects can progress with physical symptoms that might ail your cat’s body and worsen the condition with time.