Many people incorrectly think that cats are cold, emotionless beings who don’t really care about their owners. Nothing could, however, be further from the truth. Actually, a vast spectrum of emotions, such as fear, melancholy, satisfaction, and affection, are present in felines. Due to their nuanced facial expressions and body language, cats’ emotional states can occasionally be hard to discern, but that doesn’t mean your cat isn’t experiencing anything. Additionally, even though your cat should generally be content and happy, you should be able to tell when they’re not.
Cats can experience sadness or depression for a variety of reasons. Cat discontentment can be brought on by a variety of things, such as illness, boredom, the loss of a beloved family member or pet, or an accident. These are typical signs of feline depression, but frequently cat owners don’t notice if their cat is feeling down, brushing off a loss of interest in play or a cat sleeping longer than usual as normal or just “part of getting older.”
If your cat has started acting unusually reserved or quiet, it’s crucial to keep an eye on them. Find out more about the most common causes, warning signs, and treatment options for depression in cats.
Signs of a depressed cat
There are a thousand words in a picture. similar to how your cat appears. Pay attention to some of your cat’s potential depressive symptoms.
- Vocal clues or changes in vocalization: Your cat might purr more or less frequently than normal. These are incredibly audible cues that your cat might not be happy. Typically, these depressing sounds are low-pitched, melancholy yowls. A cat may purr more to console itself if it is upset, therefore purring does not always signal contentment. Normally vocal cats may become quiet, whereas vocal cats may increase their volume.
- Body language: There are numerous eye, ear, fur, and body positions that can indicate your cat’s unhappiness, and sometimes their body language can give you a hint. Your cat may be expressing their discontent by holding back their ears, tucking their tail, standing up their hair, and using other body cues like these.
- Aggression or fear: Sad cats often react more quickly and display aggression or fear. Your cat may be depressed if you notice behavioral changes that cause them to act frightened or unusually aggressive.
- Clingy or hiding or changes in personality: A depressed cat may stop enjoying the things that once made it happy, withdraw, and hide. Naturally reserved cats can develop clinginess or demands, and when a cat is depressed, the fear of strangers that many cats appear to share can intensify.
- Excessive sleep: In addition to their usual amount of sleep, sad or depressed cats sleep even more. It can also be a sign of sadness if one’s favorite nap spot has moved, especially if the new location is inconvenient or hidden.
- Poor grooming or changes in grooming: This might indicate unhappiness and poor health. When cats are sick or depressed, they frequently stop grooming themselves, leaving their coats looking very untidy.
- Not eating or change in appetite: Your cat might be upset if it has stopped eating or if you’ve noticed a sudden change in appetite. Sad cats might reject foods they once liked and even stop being interested in their favorite treats.
- Spraying or changes in bathroom habits: A depressed cat may urinate in inappropriate locations to use their own fragrance to make them feel better. Stress, despair, and sadness are among the most common causes of urinating outside the litter box. In order to spread their own scent, your cat may urinate in high-value locations like lookouts, your bedroom, or areas where the scent of a missing person or deceased pet is still present. Additionally, it should raise a red flag if your cat uses the bathroom outside of the litter box.
- Excessive scratching: Your cat may start scratching furniture or other items more frequently than usual if it’s sad or depressed in order to release stress and mark its territory.
Reasons Why a Cat Gets Depressed
A cat may get depressed for a variety of reasons. However, it’s a good idea to take your cat to the vet for a full checkup to rule out any potential medical conditions that could be the source of these behavioral changes if your cat is not acting normally, is less active than usual, is refusing to eat, appears to be in pain, or has stopped grooming itself. If your cat receives a clean bill of health from the vet, it makes sense to assume that sadness or depression may be the root of the problem.
Sicknesses, especially chronic or unpleasant ones, can make your cat depressed, just as they can make you feel down, especially if your condition is painful. If it aches for the cat to move around, it might not be as lively as usual. The sickness may cause the cat to feel nauseous, refuse food, have a hormonal imbalance, or lack energy. Serious health issues that can affect your cat’s happiness include fatty liver disease, FIV, FeLV, upper respiratory infections, diabetes, hypothyroidism, dental disease, and other conditions. Make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible if you think your cat is depressed because it is ill.
Your cat may no longer be able to enjoy some activities due to injuries. Additionally, discomfort from an injury can prevent your cat from being as happy as it usually is. Make sure you are according to your veterinarian’s advice when it comes to pain management following an injury or medical treatment. Make a consultation appointment as soon as possible if your cat looks to be in discomfort but you’re not sure why. Even previous operations and injuries can leave your cat with lingering pain or discomfort and necessitate the use of chronic pain medication.
Loss of a Loved One
Everyone who is affected by the loss of a family member finds it difficult, and your cat is no different. Your cat could feel sad and unhappy when a family member—human or animal—dies or leaves. This is typically just a passing phase, and your cat will eventually go back to acting normally.
Your cat can benefit from making a new cat companion if it is grieving the loss of another cat in the home (or it may not). However, after losing a pet, be wary of bringing in another animal companion too soon. Natural remedies like pheromone sprays and dietary supplements can make your cat happier while you wait for the major changes in the household dynamics to pass.
While keeping your cat indoors is safer and healthier, a bored indoor-only cat can easily slide into depression if there isn’t enough stimulation given. Imagine how you would feel if you were stuck indoors all the time with nothing to do. The same applies to your cat. Make sure your cat is engaged in a variety of mental and physical activities. It’s simple to prevent feline depression, boredom, or sadness with a variety of toys, cat furniture and climbing options, treats, and possibly a window to gaze out of.
How to Help a Sad Cat
If your cat is depressed and you’ve already taken care of any injuries or potential medical issues, you might be wondering what else you can do to cheer them up. Fortunately, there are numerous ways to cheer up a down cat.
- Spend daily interaction and bonding time with your cat. Your cat will feel loved and content if you pet it, allow it to sit on your lap, talk to it, and simply pay attention to its antics.
- To prevent your cat from growing bored with any one toy, give it a variety of toys and switch them up frequently. A “cat dancer” with ribbons or feathers attached to a stick that you move around for your cat to attack is something that many cats particularly enjoy leaping and chasing.
- You can give your cat a little treat every day in addition to a balanced meal and clean water. Your cat will have something to appreciate and anticipate as a result. If you offer the toy at the same time every day, most cats will quickly figure out when it’s treat time and will run when it’s time.
- Think long and hard about getting your cat a new pet. While some cats prefer to live as the lone pet in a home, others enjoy playing and cuddling with other cats or even dogs. Be sure to consider your cat’s personality, age, health, and level of activity before deciding to get another pet.
- Hang a bird feeder close to a window so your cat can enjoy watching it for entertainment. You will enjoy watching the backyard birds visit the feeder with your feline friend, and your cat will be very entertained and stimulated by their movements.