It turns out that humans aren't the only ones who can suffer from depression. Cats can, too. Cats are highly perceptive and intelligent and are very reactive to their environment and even social situations. Depression in cats can be triggered by a variety of things, from the lack of a stimulating environment to a beloved family member moving or passing away. Here are five signs that your cat might be suffering from the kitty cat blues.
Symptoms of depression in cats can also be signs of an underlying illness and a visit to your vet may be in order to get a clear bill of health first!
Cats are known for their obsession with sleep. They don’t call it catnapping for nothing! While it’s normal for cats to sleep up to 17 hours a day, a cat that’s emotionally and physically healthy will separate those catnaps with bouts of play and energy. A happy cat will want to play, explore, and hunt in their environment.
If your cat has a sudden change in sleep behavior, e.g. excessive sleeping when they would normally be awake, lack of energy, not playing or interacting with favorite toys, this might be an indication your cat is not feeling happy.
Poor grooming or excessive grooming.
Cats are fastidious groomers, often spending hours grooming and tidying their fur. If you notice your cat grooming less, resulting in a dull, dry or knotted coat, they could be suffering from depression. If this is the case, you may need to start grooming your cat more regularly to help keep their coats healthy; if your cat doesn’t like standard brushes, consider a grooming glove, so you can pet your cat and groom them at the same time, making it more enjoyable.
Loss of appetite.
Cat owners know how excited cats can get when it comes to food time. For most kitties, as soon as they hear the wet food can cracking open, the meows cannot be stopped! Depressed cats, however, often lack appetites and excitement about food, even when you crack open a can of the smelliest tuna. Decreased appetite can also be a warning sign of illness, again, a checkup may be necessary.
Some cats may become more vocal when depressed. These will often be noticeably “unhappy” noises that are different from normal meows. They are low-pitched, mournful yowls.
Hiding or avoiding affection.
Most cats have an innate sense of "stranger danger" and dive under the bed for cover when friends come to visit. But if your cat begins hiding constantly, even during the times they would usually socialize with you (like during feeding time), there may be something in their environment that is causing them to be depressed or even stressed.
How to Help
If your cat is depressed, don’t worry - there are ways to help get them out of their feline funk. The first is to identify what may be causing the depression.
Cats that don’t get enough interaction or stimulation can become depressed. It's important to keep your cat mentally and physically active for them to be their happiest, healthiest selves! Try taking 15 minutes to play with your kitty; try a few different toys to see what type they like best. Do they prefer a wand or teaser toy? Or are they more of a laser pointer fanatic?Ideally, you'll want to find a toy that is fun for both you and your cat. App-controlled toys, like the Mouse Hunt Toy, might be more up your alley.