Cats, just like people, can feel a little down sometimes, and as with people, the reasons cats get depressed can vary. That said, there are some common causes: a big change to their routine, something new or different in their environment, and the addition or loss of a companion. And we all know that cats love basking in sunshine, but did you know that a lack of it can give cats a serious case of the blues? This is more common in the winter months when cats, like us, can suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Below we've outlined some signs of cat depression along with some steps you can take to help cheer up your feline friends.
Signs of Depression
Cats spend a ton of time napping, dozing, and lounging, but if you notice them sleeping more than usual, or at times of the day when they're normally awake, then your cat could be depressed. General lethargy and a lack of interest in playing or exploring can also be signs of melancholy. Has your cat lost interest in their food? A nonexistent appetite is another indicator of cat depression. Cats experiencing the loss of a companion express their grief by being more vocal. So if your cat starts waking you up in the middle of the night with a yowl, they could be trying to let you know something is wrong. Cats can also become more aggressive when they're upset, hissing and biting more than usual, so be careful around them if this is the case. Litter box accidents are no fun for anyone. If your cat is usually good about using their box (and you are good about giving your cat a clean place to go), but they suddenly start having accidents, they could be dealing with a bout of depression. This could also be a sign of physical health problems, so visit your vet to get to the bottom of it. Cats get more distant when they're depressed, and they often hide more often and at unusual times, choosing hard-to-find places in order to isolate themselves. If the signs above describe your situation your cat could be feeling less than perfect. Now learn what you can do about it.
There are many causes of cat depression, but there are many ways to cheer up your cat too. One solution is very simple: give your cat more attention. Spend some quality time with your cat, giving them pets, brushing their coat, and playing with toys to let them know you care. If you are suddenly not at home as much, be sure to leave curtains open for them, and give them a perch that enables them to look out. Consider getting a cat sitter or friend to come by and visit them if you are gone for long periods of time. Is your cat a movie lover? There are DVDs just for cats that they can watch while you're out. After all cats need to be entertained too. If you think your cat is down because of a lack of sunlight, there are UV bulbs for cats for the winter months. You can also try cat pheromones, available at your vet's office, that help cats relax and improve their overall mood.
Help from Your Vet
If you've tried it all but nothing seems to be pulling your cat out of their depression, you might want to visit the vet for help. They will be able to evaluate your cat and check to see if the problem is a physical one. If your cat is physically healthy but still suffering from depression, your vet may prescribe antidepressants that could help your cat begin to feel like themselves again. There can be side effects associated with some antidepressants so be sure to talk with your vet about all your options.
By Jay Matthews
About the Author
Jay Matthews has been writing professionally for over a decade. He's been an animal lover for even longer. When he's not creating articles or copywriting, he's slowly chipping away at a science fiction novel. He lives with his family and their cat Koko in Los Angeles.