Signs of depression in cats aren’t always obvious. After all, cats are generally quiet, and their body language can be misleading. If you’re worried your kitty may be feeling low, keep reading as I share with you common signs of depression in cats.
You’ll not only discover signs to look for, but some of the best ways to get your kitty back to her normal happy self. We as cat parents always want the best for our fur babies, and I hope this post will help you understand not only why your kitty is depressed, but what you can do to help.
What causes depression in cats?
Just as you have days when you feel low, so can your cat. There are so many reasons why your cat may be depressed. Just like us, every feline is different, with individual temperaments and personality. It doesn’t take long before the kitty you adopted wins your heart. It also doesn’t take long before her true self starts to uncover! Whether feisty, timid, or just plain scatty, you get to understand and grow close to your little fur baby.
Pain or illness is just as likely to cause depression in your cat as it would with you. The only difference is whereas you can moan about how you feel. your kitty can’t. Stress is another major cause of depression in cats as well as humans. Though your kitty’s cause of anxiety may be different to yours, the affects can be very similar.
A new baby or pet can make your cat feel jealous which is another cause of sadness and depression. Many people still fail to realise that cats have feelings, and don’t understand how sensitive they are to change. Though your cat will probably adjust, she could be feeling very depressed in the meantime.
Lack of attention
Your kitty may seem self sufficient, and apart from feeding and the odd petting session, you may be mistaken for thinking all is well. While some cats are happy spending time alone others need plenty of interaction. A new member of the household, whether human or animal can make your kitty feel neglected.
Moving home is one of the most stressful things in life for us humans and leaving the familiarity of your old neighborhood could make you depressed. Well, the same applies to your cat. It’s actually worse for felines as they rely on scent to make sense of the world around them. If your kitty is uprooted from her home she’s going to feel vulnerable in a new place full of unfamiliar smells. It’s quite possible she may show signs of sadness and depression while she settles in to her new home.
Signs your cat may be depressed
As your kitty can’t tell you how she feels it’s up to you as her parent to watch for any unusual changes in behaviour. For example, if your lively and outgoing kitty has suddenly become withdrawn, you need to find out why.
Some signs of depression in cats include sitting with head bowed for long periods of time. Cats are masters at self pity and sitting with a bowed head is the ultimate way to show you’re unhappy. If your kitty is elderly and suffering pain from arthritis, or just feeling unwell, she’s probably depressed.
Cats spend half their waking life grooming, as they’re fastidious about keeping clean. However, if your kitty suddenly appears obsessive about grooming you need to work out what’s going on. Cats sometimes groom to make themselves feel better if they’re feeling unwell. It appears to have a soothing effect in much the same way taking anti-depressants works for people.
Sleeping more than usual
We all know cats spend much of their time sleeping, but if you notice your kitty has lost interest in playing, and spends more time dozing you may need to get her checked over. If it’s a gradual slowing down over the years though, that’s completely normal. Many seniors like to take things at a slower pace, just like elderly folk.
However, if your young, energetic kitty has suddenly become lethargic and lazy, it may be cause for concern. Most cats sleep anywhere between 14-20 hours a day, with much of that being a light doze. Sleeping in a tight ball for hours on end means your kitty is in a deep sleep. This could possibly indicate she’s feeling unwell or depressed.
Loss of appetite
If your cat has gone off her food you should get her examined by a vet to rule out illness or injury. Sometimes something as simple as introducing a new brand of food can be the answer. Cats can be picky and finicky at the best of times when it comes to food! If there’s been an obvious change in lifestyle such as the one’s previously mentioned, it could have triggered depression.
Vocalising more frequently
While some breeds of cat such as siamese are known for being chatty and not afraid to vocalise, most kitties are fairly quiet. If your cat starts yowling, or making howling noises it could be a sign of painful injury or illness. If this has been ruled out, you need to start thinking about changes to your fury friend’s environment, no matter how small.
What may be insignificant to you could be a huge deal to your cat. Even a change in litter could upset her. If your kitty goes outside, it’s quite possible another cat could be intruding on her territory. You probably wouldn’t notice, but your cat could be feeling intimidated by visiting kitties!
Is your cat grieving?
Just like us, cats grieve over a loss. It could be another pet, or a human family member. Depression after another cat or dog has died is just as likely to affect your cat as it is you. Offer support with cuddles and lots of love. Give your kitty extra treats and be there for her when she needs you.
Vocalising could just be your cat’s way of grieving or coping with an upset. It should pass over time but you could always ask your vet’s advice if it continues.
It’s not just dogs that show aggression, but cats as well. A depressed kitty could lash out at her human parents out of frustration. Never punish a cat as it won’t do any good and may only serve to damage the bond between you. Always reward good behaviour and ignore bad.
Soiling outside the litter tray
If your cat starts leaving messes outside the litter tray you need to rule out kidney infection or cystitis. If your kitty is depressed you’ll probably notice other signs as well. Cats as I’ve mentioned many times before are very clean and fastidious creatures. It’s unusual and out of character for a cat to urinate or defecate outside their litter tray.
Hiding away from family is a sure sign your kitty isn’t happy. Even if your cat is normally quiet, hiding isn’t normal behaviour. Felines typically hide illness and keep themselves hidden until they recover. If your cat is otherwise healthy then depression could be the reason.
How to make your depressed kitty feel better
If you feel depressed you may look to family members for love and support. It’s the same for your cat. All animals including ourselves need to feel loved and secure. A kitty who’s suffered neglect will require gentle handling, especially if she shows signs of depression.
Encourage play and invest in a few interactive cat toys such as feather wands. Ping pong balls are great for play sessions. Gently roll a ball towards your kitty and see if she bats it back. My cat was neglected after being with an elderly animal hoarder for a couple of years. He was very withdrawn for a short while, but play sessions and lots of cuddles soon brought him out of himself!
If your cat is depressed following the loss of another pet, leave it a while before adopting another. It may be tempting to visit the shelter and get another animal straight away, but your cat needs time to grieve just as you do.
It may be upsetting if your kitty cries or looks for her missing companion, but she will recover. After a few months have passed you could think about adopting, but there’s no certainty your cat will accept the newcomer. All cats are individuals just like we are. While some may go from grieving to loneliness, others may welcome being the only pet in the household!
Can supplements help depression in cats?
If you were to suffer depression, you may be advised to take a supplement such as st john’s wort. This is known for producing a feeling of calmness and wellbeing. However, you can’t just give pets human supplements. Vetriscience have created a multivitamin for cats containing essential nutrients such as fish oils and taurine. Available as soft chews they’re very easy to give to your feline friend.
Keeping your kitty happy and healthy
Once you’ve helped your cat feel better and her behaviour has improved, you want to keep things this way. Don’t stop regular play sessions just because you see an improvement. No matter how busy you are, your kitty deserves bonding time with you. Avoid pushing her away if she comes for cuddles. You don’t want your cat feeling depressed again!
Now you know the signs of depression in cats I hope it’s helped you understand your feline friend a bit better. Always get your cat examined by a vet if she shows unusual behaviour. Ruling out illness before treating depression is important.
Feel free to ask any questions or share your experiences, and leave your comments below.
Wishing you a purrfect day:)