Is your cat not acting themselves? Do they seem extra lazy? Believe it or not, cats can suffer from depression! A depressed cat may have a number of symptoms, but what does cat depression look like?
Cats are already known for sleeping a lot, but a cat who is struggling with depression can sleep even more. They may be more difficult to rouse, or their favorite napping spot may change.
A cat who’s depressed may also lose their appetite. They may start eating less or not eat at all. Even foods they may have loved can get snubbed if they are down in the dumps. This in turn leads to weight loss.
Just like how a cat may lose interest in food or may lose energy, your cat may stop grooming themselves. On the other side, a sad cat may start excessively grooming as well. If your cat starts looking a little unkempt or starts acting compulsively, they may be depressed.
Clingy or Absent
A cat that is depressed may become very clingy or they may hide. If they’re sad they may choose to become reclusive or try escaping many situations. Alternatively, they may end up really wanting your attention. Sometimes when you’re feeling bad, a good cuddle can go a long way to make you feel better.
If your cat is upset or sad, they may simply tell you. If your cat becomes excessively noisy, they may be telling you that they are feeling down. When your cat starts making “sad” sounds, they will make lower toned yowls. They may also start purring more as well. While we usually associate purring with a cat feeling comfortable, they may actually be trying to soothe themselves.
The last indication that your cat isn’t feeling right is aggressive behavior. When most people are put in stressful situations, they may have a “short fuse.” Your cat can feel the same way. If your cat starts to become aggressive or scared, they may actually be depressed.
Why Might Your Cat Be Depressed?
There are a number of reasons why your cat might get depressed. In reality, these are similar reasons to why people might get depressed. These reasons include:
- Loss of a loved one
Of course, people are a bit more complex than cats, but a lot of the same reasoning applies.
If your cat is sick, they are not going to be in the most playful mood. A sick cat can be in pain or nauseated. This means they will probably be less active. They may also have less of an appetite. Usually, rest and access to fluids are the best things for a sick animal.
Your cat may be depressed due to an injury. If they’ve hurt their leg or paw, they won’t be able to enjoy the freedom of movement they once did. Even if your cat looks fine, they can be experiencing pain from an old injury or old surgery.
Many people think animals cannot feel grief. Losing a loved one can cause anyone to feel grief, animals included. If your cat becomes depressed because a family member has moved out or passed away, they should get back to normal after a short time. All creatures grieve in different ways, so just keep an eye on your cat to make sure you help them through this rough patch. If your cat has lost another cat friend, a new friend may help them move on.
How to Help a Cat With Depression
If your cat shows the symptoms of depression, there are things you can do to help them. Mostly, you have to read your cat’s behaviors and actions. If you suspect your cat is depressed, you can try these steps to try and cheer them up.
Spend Time Together
Sometimes, depression can be an overwhelming feeling that you’re alone. You might feel the world is swirling around you and there’s nothing you can do to get a grip on things. That’s where a bit of attention can be great.
If your cat is depressed, try spending more time with them. A warm touch and some quality time can go a long way in making them feel better. Of course, some cats will become reclusive when depressed. If this is your cat, don’t force them to interact with you. Maybe just stay in the same room, so they know you’re there in case they want to come to you.
When anyone is feeling depressed, a bit of exercise can really help. Getting a bit of sunshine from an open window can help too. Get your cat some fun toys to try and coax them into some playtime. Engage them with play too, don’t just throw them some toys and expect them to have fun. Mirror their behavior or use the toys with them. This can make them a bit more entertained and get their mind of what is making them sad.
Give Your Cat a Climbing Spot
Cats like to have a high vantage point. They want to be able to see everything around them and hide from other animals that might cause them harm. Giving them a nice spot to hide that’s high up might make them feel better. At the very least, it can make them feel safer, which can be a first step toward feeling better.
Go to the Vet
If you’ve tried working with your pet but you can’t seem to help them out of their depression, you might have to call in an expert. Take your cat to the vet and see what they say. They might recommend an animal behaviorist, or they may give you some good advice if they have experience with a depressed cat.
Usually, depression will be a temporary thing for cats. We as owners should do everything we can to make sure our cats are feeling safe and happy at home.