Just like humans, cats can suffer from a severe case of the blues. You may have noticed a change in your cat's usual upbeat, playful behaviour and suspect its suffering from depression. Symptoms of cat depression can include withdrawal, lack of interest in its favourite toys, decline in grooming, refusal to use the littler box, avoidance of food, excessive sleep and overall lethargy. The causes of cat depression can include the introduction of a new pet into your home, the loss of a family member or another pet, a change in kitty littler or cat food, loneliness, feelings of neglect or moving into a new home.
Spend extra time with your cat while it is depressed, especially if you suspect your cat has been feeling neglected due to the loss of a family member or another event that has taken up time that you used to spend with it. Play with your cat, groom it with a brush and hold it for long stretches of time during each day until its depression lifts. Encourage other family members to do the same.
Purchase new cat toys, games and equipment that will engage your cat both physically and mentally. Your cat may have become depressed due to simple boredom, especially if you and other family members are away most of the day. Have a friend, relative or professional cat sitter come to your home and interact with your cat during the afternoons.
Take your cat to interesting places if you believe its depression is caused by a move or recent change in its environment. If your new home has a backyard, allow it to play outdoors until its mood lifts. Purchase some outdoor cat equipment it can play and exercise on, which will teach it that its new home can be just as rewarding and stimulating as the previous one.
Create interesting, flavourful cat food if your cat isn't eating enough, which will help it receive adequate food and nutrients. Add a stronger aroma to your cat's food by heating it or drizzling canned tuna oil over it. Prepare special treats such as puréed turkey or chicken. If you recently changed your cat's usual brand of cat food, try bringing it back into its diet until the depression has lifted.
Provide your cat with extra light to help ease its depression, especially during the shorter days of winter. Sunlight stimulates the pet's body to release hormones that have an uplifting, positive effect on mood, according to animal behaviourist, Mary Lee Nitschke. Allow your cat to spend time on a sunny window perch or outdoor porch for at least 30 minutes each day.
Consider adopting another cat or pet if your cat is left alone each day, as its depression could stem from loneliness.
Take your cat to a veterinarian if its not eating or if the symptoms of depression don't lift. Symptoms of depression can also be identical to those of serious illness and an underlying medical cause for its behaviour needs to be ruled out.
Tips and warnings
- Take your cat to a veterinarian if its not eating or if the symptoms of depression don't lift. Symptoms of depression can also be identical to those of serious illness and an underlying medical cause for its behaviour needs to be ruled out.