Depressed cats often sleep excessively and behave in destructive ways. Many different factors cause cats to feel down in the dumps. These possible factors include anything from the extended vacation of an owner to the chaos and uncertainty of a move to an unfamiliar new environment.
Key Signs and Symptoms
Some typical signs of depression in cats include anti-social behavior, sleeping more than normal, reduced energy, unusually vigilant behavior, problematic chewing, uncharacteristic aggressive behavior such as biting, hissing and scratching, inappropriate elimination, persistent crying, immoderate meowing, hiding in random areas of the home and lack of enthusiasm for petting sessions, play and mealtime. Depressed cats also often neglect their grooming duties. Some depressed felines, however, groom themselves inordinately**.
Since cats are highly routine-oriented creatures, significant changes and unfamiliar circumstances can depress and unsettle them, especially when they're abrupt. Felines often develop depression when family members or fellow pets die. They also frequently experience depression when the people in their lives adjust their schedules and spend less time at home. Some cats even develop depression due to the addition of a new baby or pet.
If you observe any signs of depression in your pet, seek veterinary attention for her without delay. Depression often signifies medical problems in cats, some of which are serious. These ailments include kidney disease, dehydration, heartworm, upper respiratory infection, feline herpes and feline distemper. Depression sometimes is a sign of a problematic recovery from a surgical procedure or anesthesia. Toxicity occasionally triggers depression in cats, as well. If a feline experiences poisoning due to antifreeze ingestion, for example, she might exhibit signs of slight to intense levels of depression.
Once you take your pet to the veterinarian, she can determine if a specific medical condition is the culprit behind the depression. She might perform X-rays and blood work to make a diagnosis. If the veterinarian discovers that your cat's depression involves a chemical imbalance and not another condition, she might prescribe her anxiety medication or an antidepressant.
Helping Depressed Cats
If you're concerned your pet is unhappy because you work long hours, spend some more quality time with her when possible. Play with her for 15 minutes each evening after you return home from work. Dangle her favorite toy mouse or use laser pointers, wands and bird toys to engage her. These stimulating and interactive toys might brighten her mood.
If you're worried that your cat's depression is a result of the monotony of being home by herself often, create a "fun" home environment for her. Invest in a cat tree she can climb. Set up a cozy window perch that allows her to gaze outside. Turn the television or radio on so she can feel comforted by the constant sounds.
- East Lake Veterinary Hospital: Is Your Cat Depressed?
- Fort Street Veterinarian: Help Your Pet Avoid the Back-to-School Blues
- Germantown Veterinary Clinic: Is My Cat Sick?
- North Shore Animal League: Pet Depression
- CatChannel.com: Sad Cat is Sad
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Caring For Your Cat or Dog After Surgery
- PetMD: Antifreeze Poisoning in Cats
- Reader's Digest: 4 Ways to Cheer Up a Depressed Cat