Cats can become depressed much like their human owners. A major change in routines or the loss of another pet can cause your cat to have behavioral changes. A trip to the veterinarian to make sure there are no physical issues is important before assuming that your cat is depressed. If they get a clean bill of health, then you can begin supporting them until they get back to their "old selves." Here is what you might see in a depressed kitty and how you can help them.
Why Cats Get Depressed
Cats like routine and any changes can throw them off. The changes can be small, such as the use of a new food dish or changing the brand of litter. Changes around them can be disruptive such as rearranging the furniture. These can cause behavioral changes that can last a few days or weeks. But your cat will become accustomed to the new surroundings and return to their old ways.
More dramatic changes, such as the loss of another pet or a family member, can cause your cat to become depressed for months or longer. This is when it's especially important to notice their behaviors and help them through this period. Sometimes these long-term changes can affect your cat's physical health and a trip to the vet is important before their health gets worse.
What You May Notice in Your Depressed Cat
Some behavioral changes are easy to notice such as:
- not eating or drinking
- not using their litter box and going elsewhere in the house
- no interest in their toys
Other changes are more subtle and you may have to watch for a period of time to notice them such as:
- they do more or less vocalizing than normal
- they no longer greet you at the door when you get home
- their coat looks matted because they are not grooming themselves
- they show uncharacteristic aggression toward other people and animals
- they hide from you for long periods
It is always important to make sure that these are not signs of a physical illness. Talk with your vet, like those at Abri Animal Hospital, when you see these changes to make sure nothing physical is going on.
Supporting Your Cat Through Depression
There are a number of things you can do to help your cat. They all focus on giving your cat more attention.
- Establish a set play time and routine - If you are used to randomly playing with your cat throughout the day, set aside a special time for just you and your cat to play. They appreciate the routine and will come to anticipate that part of the day with you.
- Help your cat with grooming - Brushing your cat regularly keeps their coat free of dirt, twigs and mats. It is also a bonding activity since grooming is something that cats do frequently with each other.
- Talk to your cat - The sound of your voice is comforting to your cat and makes them feel safe. If your cat is hiding a lot, sit quietly outside of their favorite hiding spot and gently talk with them for a few minutes, but don't force them to come out if they aren't ready.
If the household has gone through a major change, look for signs of stress in your cat. You can help them get through the difficult adjustment period by giving them more attention and letting them know that they are safe.