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Signs Your Cat Might Be Depressed

Posted May 17th, 2023 by daniel

As a cat parent chances are that you spend a fair amount of time interacting with and taking care of your pet. You notice when their habits change. Consequently, when they seem out of sorts, you try to figure out what is going on. And while they can’t verbally speak to you, your cat does have ways of communication.

While depression is commonly associated with humans, cats can also be depressed. And, they have a variety of ways the express it.

How Do You Know if Your Cat is Depressed?

  • Become more aggressive or fearful -If your usually friendly and outgoing cat starts becoming skittish and hissing at everyone or everything they encounter, it could be that they need some extra TLC. Other signals may be ears held back, tail tucked, and hair standing on end. They may also manifest sadness by becoming clingy and losing interest in activities.
  • Breaking housetraining rules – Has your litterbox-trained cat started peeing in the wrong places? This might be a sign of depression. For cats, the smell of their urine brings comfort, so peeing beyond the litterbox is a way of marking safe zones.
  • Sleep changes- Just as with humans who are depressed, a depressed cat may sleep even more than usual. Keep in mind most cats sleep between 12-16 hours a day. If your cat is sleeping more than normal or perhaps sleeping in a different place-especially one that is tucked away from everything- it could be that something is bothering them.
  • No appetite – A change in their eating habits such as no longer eating food they usually like, not eating at all, or even eating more than usual can also indicate depression. Consider trying a new food item to see if it gets a reaction of any kind. But if the problem persists a talk with your vet is recommended.
  • Vocalization- No your cat can’t doesn’t talk, but they do purr. A cat who is depressed may purr more often than normal, or conversely, purr less if they are usually vocal. Or, instead of purring loudly it may become softer, and vice versa.
  • Grooming- Cats are well-known for their grooming habits. However, a sign of depression is when your cat either becomes excessive about their grooming or simply seems to quit grooming. Over-grooming can lead to bald patches in their fur, while under-grooming will result in matted unkempt fur.

What Can You Do if Your Cat Appears Depressed?

If you have noticed any of these symptoms, there are several actions you can take.

  1. Determine any recent changes. Did You get a new pet? Have you moved to a new home? Maybe someone has left home (i.e., a child going off to college). Have your work hours changed? Any of these changes can affect a cat’s demeanor. Try not to change too many things at once, so the differences are more subtle.
  2. Encourage engagement. Try different play activities, pick up a new toy, and be intentional about playing with your cat. Studies show that cats who get more engagement are less likely to be depressed.
  3. Natural remedies – implement natural solutions like l-theanine and l-tryptophan which contain serotonin. Known as a ‘feel-good” supplement, it can help your cat feel happy.
  4. Schedule a vet appointment. Be sure that are no underlying issues such as sickness or injury. Your vet can do a thorough examination to be certain your cat Is healthy. If a clean bill of health is the result, they can prescribe medication for depression.

Knowing your cat and how they respond to situations is part of being a cat parent. If there’s a change, it is up to you to take steps to improve the situation. Pay attention, and if you suspect your cat is depressed do your part to help them become a happy furbaby.

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