Caring for a pet is a great way to fill our days with happiness and affection. Cats, for example, make excellent emotional support animals and are fun to play with. But what happens if you have a depressed cat?
Depression is horrible, and it affects not only people but animals too. Cats, unfortunately, are not immune to bouts of sadness, but they can be treated if addressed properly. After hearing this news, you may have just looked over at your feline and asked yourself: “is my cat depressed?” Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
If you are concerned about your cat’s emotional well-being, read on to find out more about cat depression, why cats get depressed, how to tell if it is depressed, symptoms of cat depression, and how to improve your cat’s mental health.
Do Cats Experience Depression?
Yes, cats experience depression. Depression in cats is actually common and it can be difficult to notice if you do not know the signs.
Cats are known to be independent pets. They often have free-spirited personalities and enjoy being the center of attention. They are prone to different emotions like fear, anger, happiness, loneliness, and playfulness.
Yet, not all cats have the same personality; some might be naturally shy or reserved, especially around strangers. This kind of personality can make it more difficult to identify symptoms of depression. Despite being shy or outgoing, cats can still become depressed.
Is Feline Depression Like Human Depression?
Sadness is dreadful to deal with, regardless if it is affecting a cat or person. But depression between people and cats is slightly different.
Depression in humans may be caused by different stress-related factors and may come in cycles. When someone is feeling down, they often have the ability to vocally express it. Medical professionals say they are able to diagnose clinical depression in people easier than felines.
Cats do not possess as advanced critical thinking skills as we do, so their depression tends to be more temporary than a person’s depression. Despite the small differences, any signs of depression should be taken seriously.
People have the option of attending therapy to help overcome their sadness. Cats do not have specialized therapy sessions but can still be treated to help conquer their unhappiness. In some serious cases, it might be best to consult with a veterinarian.
Why Do Cats Get Depressed?
It can be hard to pinpoint why cats get depressed since there are several causes for it. Cats often become sad in response to changes in their lifestyles or environment. If you noticed any of the following changes at home, it might have contributed to your cat’s depressed behavior.
A Change of Routine
Cats easily become used to certain schedules. You may feed your beloved cat at certain times of the day. Changing that routine up may make your cat unhappy.
Instead of expecting things on a schedule, they have to wait and readjust to a new routine. These changes might seem small to you, but they can cause a great deal of stress in your cat.
New Addition to the Family
Cats love receiving tender love and affection from their owner. They can become attention seekers when you have guests over. When a new pet, baby, or roommate moves into your home, cats can feel like they are no longer the center of attention.
It is normal for people to gush over a baby because babies are adorable. Yes, cats are adorable too. But they can feel like they are being ignored, and this may lead to unhappiness.
Recovering from an injury or illness can be difficult to deal with mentally. Cats love running and jumping around. When they are temporarily immobilized, they cannot move around like they want to.
A cat may suffer from depression if it is healing from being spayed or neutered. They might also feel down if they are receiving treatment for a disease or physical injury.
Trauma should not be taken lightly, as it is a big contributor to depression in cats. There are different ways cats can, unfortunately, experience a traumatic event. They are complex creatures, just like you and me.
It is possible that as a kitten, your adopted cat may have had an abusive owner. It may have been abandoned by its mom or previous owner as well. These factors can easily make a cat sad if something triggers its trauma.
Cats do not enjoy loud noises. Whether it is loud construction noises or fireworks, loud noises can make a cat feel anxious and scared. These emotions can make your cat feel unhappy.
Cats may also become depressed if you move homes or change their bed or litter box location. These changes might seem small, but some cats are sensitive and can become sad if there is a change in their environment. Your house cat may become attached to its home. Again, changing something might make your furry friend unhappy.
Loss of Family Members
Cats become attached to their families. In homes with plenty of pets, cats can form a bond with other cats and dogs.
If their current owner, a family member, or one of its animal companions passes away, cats may take notice of their absence. A depressed cat can take time to readjust to its loss.
How to Tell if Your Cat is Depressed
It can be easier to identify depression in cats when you are aware and attentive to your cat’s normal behavior. Considering how busy our lives can be, chances are you probably spend a small part of your day playing and interacting with your cat.
If your cat is friendly, you can easily tell if something is going on if they are being distant and avoiding playtime. If you feed your cat a certain time, you might notice that its food bowl is still full.
Cats tend to pick someone in the household they are more attached to than other family members. If your cat loves sitting on your child’s lap but is refusing to do so and goes into hiding instead, it may be one of the signs of depression.
If cats cannot speak, then how does one possibly determine that it is depressed? Read onto the next section to see the different symptoms of depression in cats.
Symptoms of Cat Depression
Since depression isn’t something that can be identified physically, it is important to know the symptoms of cat depression. It takes plenty of observation to notice the symptoms.
Here are some of the things your cat might do if it is feeling sad:
Loss of Appetite
Cats Feed on a schedule, usually twice a day. You might feed your cat before you leave for work and before you go to bed, for example. If you notice the bowl of food remains full after a day or two, something affects your cat from enjoying its meal.
A loss of appetite is also another symptom of human depression. Cats like eating their food, so when they don’t eat, it could indicate that they are feeling sad.
Lack of Energy
Cats have a reputation for being lazy, when in fact, they are very playful. A depressed cat will usually sleep all day and avoid playtime.
Even when they aren’t playful, cats enjoy showing affection. They might sit on your lap, wag their tail, or brush their heads against you. When a cat is feeling sad, it will avoid any of these signs of affection and become distant as well.
Increased or Decreased Vocalization
Some cats are more vocal than others— they meow to communicate with their families. When a cat is feeling sad, its meows might sound low and gloomy.
Though the opposite may occur where generally a vocal cat can become quiet. Cats usually purr when they feel happy, so decreased purring is another sign that your cat may feel depressed.
Another symptom of depression is when cats sleep all day, non-stop. It is perfectly normal for felines to lounge in between playtime. A lack of energy and sleepiness for more than one day could indicate that the cat is depressed.
Cats use their tongues to brush their coats. They are also very disciplined when it comes to using the restroom.
When your kitty is feeling depressed, it may not groom itself properly, or it may urinate or defecate outside of its litter box.
It takes plenty of observation to notice these symptoms. Once you are sure that your cat is unhappy, the next steps might be to either consult with a vet or find other methods to cheer up your cat.
Should You Go to The Vet for Cat Depression?
Yes! Mental health plays an important part in your cat’s life. Although you may have detected the symptoms of prolonged sadness and attempted to resolve it yourself, it may be best to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any other possible illnesses contributing to your cat’s depressed behavior.
A lack of appetite is concerning since your cat may start to lose weight. Like any animal, cats need food to keep themselves well-nourished. That should indicate whether further diagnosis from a veterinarian is required.
After speaking with a veterinarian, they might suggest anti-depression treatment to help your cat overcome its sad behavior.
How to Cheer Up a Cat
Another way to help your cat deal with depressed feelings is by finding ways to cheer it up. Cheering up a cat takes time, but you can ensure your cat remains happy throughout the week by doing any of the following activities.
Increased Affection and Playtime
Cats like being showered with affection. If you have been busy with work or other things going on, it might be good for your cat if you play with them more often.
There are many games you can play with cats that are mentally stimulating. This can help them stay happy.
Change of Routine and Diet
If your cat is having a hard time getting through the day, it might help to change their routine. One way to do that is by mixing up what you feed your kitty.
CBD for Cats
One of the best ways to address your cat’s depression is by providing it with CBD. CBD is well-tolerated by pets, including dogs, cats, and horses. It works by interacting with your cat’s endocannabinoid system to help alleviate skittish behavior, general discomfort, among other things.
With CBD your cat has a fighting chance of clawing their way out of their depressed state. Try CBD catnip spray or edible treats! Your cat will feel at ease once it is introduced to CBD.
Final Thoughts – Is My Cat Depressed?
People usually seek pets for emotional support, but who helps our pets when they feel depressed? Knowing the signs of depression in your kitty, as well as knowing ways to cheer them up, can ensure your cat stays happy!
If you are interested in using CBD to address your cat’s sadness, check out the Healthy Petables selection for CBD cat products!