How Can You Tell if Your Cat Suffers from Depression?
They say that happiness is a choice, which makes you wonder if depression is also by choice. Yet, depression has robbed us of various talents, and each day we lose at least 132 people through suicide. It is also said that money does not buy happiness, which rings true since even celebrities like Anthony Bourdain committed suicide due to depression, yet he had everything. Fortunately, pets are supposed to bring joy into our lives, and they could be the solution to anxiety, stress, and depression through their unconditional love. However, animals get depressed too, and if your pet cat is also depressed, living in a household full of depression could be catastrophic. Luckily, we have compiled a few tell-tale signs of a depressed cat and how you can cure it.
Signs of a Depressed Cat
The Spruce Pets lists a few signs of depressed cats, most of which are similar to those of a depressed human. They include:
- Change in Appetite – In the short-term, depression can cause you to have no appetite, even for your favorite foods. In cats, the same scenario is observed. No amount of their favorite treats will make them eat, and even if they do, it is only for survival, not because they enjoy it. However, some will insist on not eating, and you should note that if your cat goes without food for long, rapid weight loss will be evident. He will start using up the fat and protein reserves and develop feline hepatic lipidosis; it results in liver failure, which could be fatal.
- Excessive Sleep – Of course, it is normal for a cat to spend most of the day lazing around, especially after having some food. However, in the case of a depressed cat, the amount of sleep will be too much to go unnoticed. Cats in their normal state still find time to play, chase butterflies, or hunt birds in the neighborhood. If yours is depressed, you will see that he barely moves from one spot, not even to stretch. Another sign could be moving from their favorite napping area to another. Considering how territorial they are, depressed cats may not care about where they lie anymore.
- Grooming Habits Change – Cat depression causes our feline friends to either under or over-groom. Some will forsake all their grooming habits and start looking unkempt. You will notice knotted fur for the long-haired ones, oily coats in others, and even dandruff. On the other hand, some will take grooming seriously and do it excessively. Since they clean themselves by licking, if you spot areas that have been licked so much that bald patches have developed, your cat is most likely depressed.
- Avoiding Affection – Cats like affection on their terms, and they can be very needy sometimes. However, depression causes them to prefer to be alone most of the time; hence they avoid affection. They can hide when they see you approaching as if to pet them, and they will avoid being disturbed by humans and other pets in the house. If you happen to sit next to a depressed cat, most likely, your furry friend will move.
Causes of Depression in Cats
According to Chewy, the most common causes of depression in cats are:
- Change in Environment – Putting your cat in an unfamiliar place will result in depression. Usually, moving to a new location causes stress in a cat, and it can take around two weeks for your furball baby to settle in the new home. Also, introducing new family members, both humans, and pets, makes the feline feel uncomfortable in his own home. While some do not mind interacting with their new owner within a few hours, others take days or weeks to be comfortable around you.
- Death of Loved One – A cat that has been robbed of a companion will sink into depression. Animals also feel sad when they lose a loved one and react differently as they mourn, with some taking as long as six months to get over the death completely.
How to Cure Cat Depression
You can bring to an end your cat’s depression through a few treatment methods as detailed on PetCareRx.
- Give Some Love – Sometimes loneliness could cause depression as the cat feels neglected; hence the only treatment is to give lots of love and attention. It does not have to be constant petting or having him on your lap all day; even spending time with him could do the trick. Try engaging your feline in active play, give him toys and provide a scratching post to preoccupy himself and avoid boredom.
- Seek Medical Help – Besides the physical changes and emotional turmoil that could cause depression in cats, sometimes, it is due to a chemical imbalance in the brain. If this is the cause, then even becoming the most doting cat parent will not help. Taking your feline to the vet is the only solution, and the vet can prescribe the right medication, such as antidepressants.
- Introduce a new Companion – If your cat is depressed because he is mourning a close companion’s passing, perhaps getting a new companion could fill the void. The loneliness experienced in a cat can be quickly eliminated if the cat has a new pet to play with, thus helping reduce the chances of developing depression. It may work as seen in some cases where animals whose young ones have passed immediately take orphaned ones under the wing and care for them as if they were their own.
- Play Cat Music – We love playing the blues when our emotions have been hurt because that is when we best understand the lyrics. Cats may not comprehend a word; hence cat music has been said to have a calming effect. For a long time, it was thought that even classical music could soothe cats, but the minute cat music was composed, the cure for cat depression was found.