How the Lockdown May Have Impacted Your Cat’s Mental Health


The COVID-19 crisis has hit people hard. After all, it has killed millions of people. Furthermore, COVID-19 can have serious long-term effects, meaning that some COVID-19 patients will continue suffering for years and years to come. On top of this, interested individuals should remember that these are the casualty numbers in spite of the entire world making a Herculean effort to combat it. As such, it is no exaggeration to say that the COVID-19 crisis could be even worse than it already is. Of course, the measures used to combat COVID-19 have had their costs as well. To name an example, the lockdowns have resulted in economic woe for a wide range of individuals under a wide range of circumstances, which promise to have long-lasting consequences. However, while some of these costs are very obvious, others are much less so.

For instance, there is evidence to suggest that a lot of cats have taken a hit to their mental health because of the lockdowns. This can sound ridiculous. Nonetheless, the fact of the matter is that a lot of cat owners have reported their cats behaving in a depressed manner. Chances are good that interested individuals can find such accounts on social media platforms. However, there is even more persuasive evidence in the form of a study conducted by the James Cook University in Townsville, Australia that examined the effects of the lockdowns on 400 pairs of pets and pet owners. Amusingly, almost all of the dogs and dog owners seemed to have experienced an improvement in their mood because of them spending more time together. In contrast, about half of the cat owners reported that their cats seemed to be unhappy because of the same. On further consideration, this isn’t as strange as it sounds. It is common for cats to need some time of their own. As a result, if they aren’t getting enough of that because the lockdowns have forced them into constant proximity with their cat owners, it makes sense that they would be bothered by it. This is particularly true because cats are very much creatures of habit, meaning that they tend to be less than enthused about being knocked out of their normal routines in the first place.

Can Cats Suffer From Depression?

At this point, some people might be wondering if cats can experience depression. If so, they should know that it isn’t quite clear. In short, it makes sense that cats can suffer from mental health issues. There might have been a time when the learned argued that animals were nothing but automatons made out of meat. However, we are pretty sure that cats have thinking minds, which in turn, means that it makes sense that they can experience issues in that regard. Certainly, there are plenty of examples of cats engage in strange behaviors not because they are cats being cats but because they seem to be suffering from something that they cannot control.

Unfortunately, we can’t quite be sure that cats can suffer from depression. To an extent, this is because depression is a human mental health issue, so we can’t assume that it will automatically exist in cats in spite of the significant differences between cat minds and human minds. However, it is also important to note that depression is a multifactorial problem. Sometimes, it is caused by a person being caught in a stressful situation for a prolonged period of time. Other times, it is caused by a chemical imbalance in that same person’s brain. As such, a diagnosis of depression is very reliant on the person’s reports of their symptoms. Since cats can’t communicate in the same way that humans can, we don’t have perfect insight into what they are feeling. Something that makes it difficult to say for sure that a seemingly depressed cat is suffering from the same issue as a depressed human.

Still, there are times when cats will exhibit behaviors that look a lot like depression from a human perspective. As such, it might be a good idea for interested individuals to familiarize themselves with the potential signs and symptoms, thus enabling themselves to pick up on such problems sooner rather than later. For starters, a depressed cat might show a lack of interest in activities that they used to enjoy. Instead, they might start spending more of their time sleeping rather than doing anything else. Similarly, depressed cats could show disruptions to a wide range of other things as well. To name an example, they might start failing to eat in a normal manner. Furthermore, depressed cats might start failing to groom themselves properly. On top of this, they can exhibit behaviors that range from hiding and retreating from other members of the same household to changes in their bathroom habits.

What Can You Do If You Are Concerned About Your Cat Suffering From Depression?

The problem is that it is difficult for interested individuals to tell whether a cat is actually depressed or not. After all, these symptoms are shared with a lot of other feline medical issues, meaning that they could very well be caused by something else. In particular, pain can cause cats to show these symptoms, which is a huge concern because pain is both common and underdiagnosed.

Due to this, if interested individuals see that their cat seems depressed, they should bring the latter to a veterinarian. By doing so, they can get a professional to check out their feline companions to see if they can turn up any medical issues with a full physical examination. If there is a medical issue causing the symptoms, the veterinarian is the one who is most capable of providing interested individuals with a suitable course of action for correcting it. If there isn’t, the veterinarian can still help out interested individuals with figuring out if there are any external stressors that are at work, which could be responsible for causing the symptoms instead. Whichever the case, depression is a serious problem, meaning that interested individuals should be prepared to take suitable action.

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