How To Recognize When Your Cat Is Depressed


You learn your cat's personality over time and notice when they behave a little differently. Illness is one factor that affects their behavior, but cats can get depressed, too, and show resulting personality changes. If you notice changes that last for more than a few days, it's time for a visit to your local animal hospital. They will rule out any physical issues and look for some of the signs that your cat may really be depressed. Here is how depression can manifest in your cat and how you can help them through it.

What Makes a Cat Depressed?

Cats are creatures of routine. They feel safest when the world around them is the same each day. Little changes can make them anxious. A new food dish, a different brand of litter, or throwing out a favorite box can disrupt your cat's mood. They may sulk for a few hours before bouncing back to their lively selves.

More dramatic changes can cause the cat to behave differently for a long time. A death in the human or animal family, suddenly being alone because of a work shift change, or a household move can cause your cat's personality to change. Some changes may be permanent and should any changes affect your cat's health, it's time to take them to the vet.

Noticing the Changes in Your Cat from Depression

It's hard to look at your cat and know if they are sad. Behavior changes are the way to know if something major is going on. Some of the signs to look for include:

  • a cat that vocalized frequently stops meowing
  • a cat that is normally silent begins to meow incessantly
  • a cat stops greeting their owners when they get home from work
  • a cat that is normally a big eater cuts way back on the amount they eat

Other signs can also be an indication of a medical problem. Your vet will first do tests to determine if there is an illness before treating your cat for depression. These signs include:

  • lack of grooming
  • sleeping more then normal
  • aggression toward people or other pets
  • hiding away from others for long periods

How to Help Your Cat

If the vet's diagnosis is depression, then there are several ways you can help your cat to cope with the changes that triggered the shift in behavior:

Give your cat more attention - Play with your cat more so they get some exercise which helps balance the hormonal state of their body.

Spend time grooming your cat - Brushing your cat is received as if another cat were helping them with their grooming. This is a bonding activity and helps to relax your cat.

Talk to your cat - If your cat is hiding, sit near their hiding place for several minutes and talk to them softly. This enhances their feeling of safety.

Give your cat some company - If loneliness is the problem, have a friend stop by during the day and play with your cat while you're at work. Open the blinds so the cat can see activity outside. Turn on a radio so it can hear people speaking.

Should all of your attempts to calm your cat fail, your vet can prescribe antidepressants for your cat. These will temporarily elevate your cat's mood while they become accustomed to the changes around them.

Keep changes around your cat minimal to prevent the risk of depression. Should unplanned changes cause anxiety and depression in your cat, see your vet first to rule our physical illness. Then proceed to support them as they get through this reaction and return to their happy selves. For more information, contact a local animal hospital or vet clinic. 


5 January 2015

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