Is Your Cat Struggling From Despair?

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It is important not to attribute human feelings to our pets, but most families can tell when their cat is sad and not feeling like themselves. In fact, you can even predict that some situations could lead to depression in your cat. The death of a longtime companion, a drastic change in surroundings, or a change in routine can all lead to psychological stress for your cat. Once you’ve identified the tell-tale signs of depression, there are ways to help your cat return to her normal condition.

Do Cats Really Get Depressed?

The answer is, yes, cats can be depressed, but not just like humans. In most cases, it’s a short-term problem for cats. Cats tend to “live in the moment” so they don’t get the soul-wrecking chronic cycles of depression that some people suffer from.

Signs of depression in cats

Classic signs of depression in cats include:

These symptoms of depression mimic a number of other health problems as well. Therefore, your first step should be a visit to the vet to rule out physical illness. A cat is unlikely to get seriously ill or die of depression on its own, but cats can develop liver lipidosis (also known as fatty liver syndrome) if they don’t eat, which can be fatal.

What Causes Depression In Cats?

The list of possible causes can be long, as cats are typically not good at handling change. Adding a new pet, baby, or roommate can put a cat on a radio. Even changing your work schedule can make your pet unhappy, especially if it’s an abrupt change.

Cats feel very attached to their homes. They don’t like changes like moving furniture or moving a litter box to a new location. Moving to a new home can also be very annoying. This is especially true if your cat is moving from a quiet home in a rural area to an apartment in a noisy building. This is a surefire recipe for hiding and depression, along with some anxiety.

The story goes on

While cats are often portrayed as solitary animals, many cats develop close relationships with other pets or with certain people. My own cats Jenny and Venus were adopted a year apart. For 17 years they were inseparable. They shared the window seat, curled up in a large cat bed, and ate side by side. When Venus died, Jenny walked through the house for days meowing plaintively. Cats whose owners have passed away will also react strongly.

How do you help your depressed cat feel better?

Katherine Houpt, VMD, PhD, DACVB is a retired veterinary behavioral researcher at Cornell University. She stresses that you need to be patient. Enrichment and attention are key to helping your cat. Consider some of these ideas to improve your cat’s mood:

The goal is to keep your cat active!

CONNECTED: 10 Easy Ways To Enrich Your Cat’s Life

If your cat isn’t grooming itself, you’ll need to brush or comb it. Make sure she urinates and poops normally, and really take care of your litter box maintenance. Stick to your normal routine as much as possible to keep your cat stable.

Houpt does not recommend adding a new cat or kitten to your family during this time. Introducing them can be a challenge at times, and cats can be very fussy about who they will become friends with. An older cat can be irritated by a kitten and react negatively to the newcomer. And two adult cats may just not like each other. As a result, it can also be difficult for your cat to get used to a new shelter cat during this time.

Fortunately, depression in cats is short-lived. With a little help from you and your veterinarian, your cat should be back to normal soon!