Feline Depression Exists!
How To Deal With Cat Depression
Feline depression really does exist! Us humans aren't the only ones who can get bouts of the blues - or worse. If your cat becomes depressed and it's not dealt with, it can result in serious medical problems.
This page goes explains why cats may become depressed due to things that may be upsetting them - in other words psychological reasons.
However, it's really important to remember that cat depression can also be one of the signs of cat health problems and cat illnesses. If you think your cat's depression may be due to a physical illness, you should take him to the vet without delay.
1) Why do cats get depressed?
Generally speaking, cats don't like change - especially sudden, major changes that upset their normal routine in a big way.
Bearing this in mind, some of the circumstances which may trigger feline depression are:
- Someone moving in or out of the family home - e.g. a divorce, new partner, new baby, lodger
- Excessive fighting between people in the family home
- Death of a family member or of a companion animal
- Change of environment - e.g. new house, boarding kennels
- Any sudden change in routine - e.g. owner who was at home a lot gets a new job and is now out much more, building work
2) What are the signs of feline depression?
If a cat becomes depressed, it's likely he'll show some of the following signs:
- Loss or complete lack of appetite
- Lack of grooming
- General lack of energy and excessive sleeping
- Personality changes - the cat may lose his "spark," stop playing, stop wanting to go out, become more aggressive, stop meowing if he's normally quite vocal etc.
- Hiding away by himself for extended periods of time
- Attention seeking behavior - e.g. deliberately doing "naughty" things that he knows he shouldn't - and normally wouldn't - do
- Stop using his litter box
3) I think my cat may be depressed - what should I do?
Loss of appetite and general lethargy can indicate depression, but they can also indicate physical illnesses which will need to be diagnosed and treated before they get any worse.
If you think there's any chance your cat's sudden change in personality, appetite or mood could be due to a physical illness, you should take him to the vet as soon as you can.
If there's nothing physically wrong with your cat and he's depressed because of circumstances he doesn't like, he'll need loads of love, attention and reassurance to get him back on track. You can't always remove the cause of his anxiety, but by making him feel safe and secure you can go a long way towards lifting his mood.
If your cat is depressed because of the death of a companion animal, consider getting another. If you have a new baby or partner, make sure your cat still gets plenty of attention.
Grooming your cat on a daily basis will help you bond with him and will encourage him to start grooming himself again if he's stopped.
If your cat's being left alone for long periods, consider getting another pet to keep him company, or see if you can get someone to visit him when you're out.
Giving him catnip as a treat may help to lift his mood.
If all else fails, feline depression can be treated with anti-depressants from the vet. However, these are unlikely to work on their own; Kitty will still need lots of reassurance and attention to get him back to his old self.
Go from feline depression page to cat health problems page
Go to Cat Behavior Explained home page