Is My Cat Depressed? [How To Tell & 3 Ways To Fix It]

Are you worried that your cat is depressed?

Here we discuss how to tell if your cat is depressed, signs to look our for, and what you can do about it.

Signs Your Cat May Be Depressed

  • Excessive Sleep – This might not be the clearest indication that your cat is depressed since cats tend to sleep a lot anyway, but unhappy or depressed cats tend to sleep more than they usually do. Moreover, cats tend to have a favorite sleeping place, so if your cat changes its sleeping location, take it with a grain of salt that this a sign of depression.
  • Sudden Neediness – Like we all know, cats are independent animals. However, when a cat displays sudden neediness and affection, it might be a good sign of unhappiness and a way to call for your attention. Neediness can be in the form of it curling up in your lap a lot or waking you up in the dead of the night to seek your attention.
  • Tail Twitching – This one of the most major tells that you can use to find out whether the cat is depressed or not. Happy felines move their tails gracefully, almost like when you’re using a feather duster, but cats that are depressed or unhappy tend to move their tails in more sudden and quick fashion, delivering hard strikes with their tails.
  • Diminished Appetite – You’re probably familiar with how loud your cat can get when you don’t serve it food at the right time, which is totally normal. What isn’t normal, however, is when your cat doesn’t show interest in food whatsoever. A depressed cat will even brush off its favorite meal when presented with it. Definitely a clear indication of unhappiness.
  • Sudden Seclusion– Some cats display their depression by being extra affectionate and needy, but there are others that opt for seclusion and self-restraint. An unhappy cat will often be found hidden in places that are out of sight by itself. Also, if your cat isn’t quite fond of strangers, its fear is likely to be increased significantly when depressed.
  • Poor Grooming – You’ll rarely see the coat of a carefree cat looking unkempt and messy because, as we all know, grooming is a priority for felines. If your cat is depressed or not happy in general, it’ll likely pay little to no attention at all to its grooming habits. This is an infallible sign that your cat is either sick, unhappy, or depressed.
  • Excessive Scratching – A displeased feline will resort to using its claws to express how it’s feeling. However, don’t take this as a fail-proof sign of depression, your cat might just be going through a tough time. The ideal way you can go about handling this behavior is by spending more time with your cat and dealing with it like you’d deal with a sad child.
  • Hissing and Spitting – A cat that hisses and spits is often looked at as an angry cat, but really, both are signs of an unhappy cat. The best thing you can do when your cat shows this sort of behavior is to just leave it alone until it warms up to you again. Once it warms up to you again, the hissing and spitting it used to do will stop.
  • Wall Spraying – There are various reasons why cats may start urinating in inappropriate places outside of their litter box. Some cats do it as a way to feel better, others do it to let other cats know that the stained area is their territory. Moreover, spraying can be looked at as a sign of stress or depression, and it’s something that needs to be dealt with quick.
  • Vocal Indicators – When a feline is unhappy, it’ll utter out a low-pitched, almost mournful sound that’s hard to mistake for a happy sound. If your is typically noisy, it’ll suddenly opt for silence when depressed. If your cat is typically quiet, it’ll do the exact opposite. You’re going to have to pay close attention to the way your cat vocalizes.
  • Complete Indifference – While it’s not strange for cats to shy away from strangers, it’s a possible sign of unhappiness or depression when it displays such behavior towards you. Moreover, let’s say you’re dating someone that your feline isn’t really used to, if your cat refuses to look at you, it’s a clear indication of unhappiness with how things are.

Reasons Behind Feline Depression

Now that you can tell when your cat is depressed, it’s time to understand the reasons behind the depression. No matter the reason, however, your love and attention will definitely be needed.

Minimal Interaction

It’s a common misconception that cats are secluded creatures that don’t need that much human interaction. That couldn’t be further than the truth. All felines need attention and interaction from their owners. Of course, how much interaction is required can vary from one cat to the other, but lack thereof can be one of the primary causes of depression and unhappiness.

sick cat

Injury or Disease

Cats are often very playful, and so when you notice that your cat’s activities are suddenly on the decline, you may want to examine your cat for physical injury. And since the pain from the injury could be stopping your cat from going about its daily activities, it could be the reason why it’s not feeling so well. Even an old injury that has recovered may leave behind some lingering pain.

On the other hand, your cat might not be injured, but it could be sick. Illness can lead to feelings of unhappiness and depression, especially when it’s accompanied by pain. Illness can also lead the cat to feel nauseated and have a diminished appetite. Moreover, illness can cause a chemical imbalance. If you suspect that your cat is injured or ill, head to your veterinarian right away.

Routine Changes

Felines are creatures of habit, and so it makes sense that when their routine changes, they may get quite cranky or even depressed. There’s a lot of things that fall under the umbrella of routine for a cat, including litter, food, and playtime. Take food, for instance. A cat may get upset if you change the type of food it’s used to. Not only that, it can get upset if the location changes.

The whole deal about location applies when it comes to the litter box. If you decide to move your feline’s litter box to a different location than the one it’s used to, don’t be surprised if you see it a little upset or cranky. If you’re planning on doing some changes in the house that may affect the cat, we highly recommend going about these changes gradually to give the cat time to adjust.

For example, if you want to change the location of the litter box, we advise that you buy a brand new litter box and put it in the desired place while still keeping the old one in its original location so that the get gets used to the new one gradually. If you can’t get your hands on a new box, then you can simply move the current litter box to the desired location a few inches every day.

Household Changes

Your feline’s depression might have nothing to do with interaction, injury, disease, or a change in routine, it can be the result of a change in your household such as a divorce or a new spouse. It can something like a child leaving for college. The way to deal with this behavior is by providing your cat with more of your attention to reassure that it’s still the home it knows and feels safe in.

Ways Cheer Up Your Cat

There are various ways you can go about helping a depressed cat which includes setting a daily routine, providing means of entertainment, and giving your cat depression medication. Let’s talk details.

Establishing Routine

Like we already mentioned, cats are creatures of habit, and so it’s important to develop a sense of routine so that they feel happy and safe. If you’ve recently changed anything about your cat’s routine, we highly recommend that you restore everything back. By feeding, brushing, and being attentive to your cat’s needs on time, you help reassure the cat and give it a sense of security.

happy young woman playing with cat. Girl with her cat. Owner playing with cute funny cat at home, closeup

If your cat has had another cat companion that has passed away or that’s no longer sharing the household for whatever reason, it’s important to make more of an effort to offer your feline all of the attention it requires. After all, the companion it used to snuggle up with, brush its coat, and wash its ears is no longer there, so it’s your job to fill the gap that’s left in your cat’s life.

Offering Entertainment

You want to provide your cat with means of entertainment and mental stimulation. Spending 5 to 10 minutes to play with your cat several times a day is a great way to do. You can play with your cat using a cat laser pointer or a wing-on-a-string trigger. You can also invest in a sturdy scratch post to help your cat to express its territory-making nature.

Another thing that you can do to entertain your cat is to get it a few high perches since cats love to be up high. You can also go about entertaining your cat by helping it mimic its hunting activity. Additionally, you may want to consider using puzzle feeders. There are plenty of other ways you can entertain a cat and help it tap into its playful side. Figure out which way works for you best.

Depression Medication

If your feline is in a state of acute depression and it’s refusing to do any of the above-mentioned things, then you should definitely consider using medication. But before you can do that, it’s vital that you consult your veterinarian first so that he can prescribe the most appropriate medication. You can also try using cat pheromones and food supplements to help with the depression.

Understanding Cat Depression

It’s important to understand that feline depression is different from human depression. Cats don’t have the cognitive and emotional abilities that humans have, so they don’t really experience the same emotional changes that a human would be faced with. In the same way, treatment will be different for both cases.

Human depression is considered a multifactorial disorder. It can come about based on multiple specific situations, whether medical, stress related, or otherwise. Humans can vocalize our symptoms using words so that the doctor or psychologist can analyze those symptoms and work on finding the ideal treatment for the situation. But for felines, it’s different.

Sadly, cats can’t utter words, so trying to figure out how your cat feels is quite challenging.

But it can be done.

Striped domestic cat with white paws, plays on a carpet

You can identify how your cat is feeling by observing its behavioral clues. A cat’s activities tell a lot about how it’s feeling. Some cats tend to become isolated while others tend to be more affectionate. Some even change how they use their litter box.

It’s important to watch out for changes in behavior or the symptoms we’ve discussed above. If you notice these changes, try to establish routine, spend more time with your cat, and contact the vet.

Final Words

With the aid of the information provided in this article, you should be able to deal with your cat’s depression correctly. Feel free to let us know if you have any questions with regard to this topic.

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