Depression in Cats : Symptoms and Solutions

Cat Depression

The depressive state of the cat is rather difficult to detect because the symptoms can be the same as those of a more “mild” illness. However, the same physical and behavioral disorders are often found in cats with depression:

Cat Depression: Recognizing the Symptoms

  • Almost constant inactivity: the main behavior change of a cat in depression is that it experiences extremely high inactivity. Indeed, the cat becomes totally apathetic, nothing more stimulates or motivates him. While this may sound like passing laziness, it is actually one of the main signs of depression.
  • Insomnia: Although depressed cats do very little or no physical activity, and they will not spend all their time sleeping. On the contrary, he may suffer from insomnia, which does not help his mood for recovery.
  • Loss of appetite: Even if your cat was previously a little glutton, it is totally possible that they will partially or even completely stop eating if they have depression, which is obviously extremely serious, requiring a consultation with a vet as soon as possible (whether it comes from depression or not).
  • He defecates anywhere: A depressed cat can defecate a lot. Even if he was previously totally clean, he can be made, in a depressed state, to let himself go anywhere. You should know that for a cat, to do its business in a litter box is not just a symbol of the toilet. The fact of scratching in its litter, and therefore burying its needs is a natural survival reflex, which consists of camouflaging its traces and its smell to protect itself from potential predators. A cat suffering from depression may therefore no longer have the reflex to survive, and thus no longer feel the need to go in his litter box.
  • Oily hair and bad odors: a cat is normally a very clean animal, but in a depressed state, it can completely lose the reflex to wash. His hair will therefore become greasy, which will be accentuated by his psychological state, and he will consequently emit a strong odor, even if you try to wash it. This lack of hygiene can lead to skin irritations such as eczema.
  • Behavioral disorders: it is not uncommon for a cat with depression to develop behavioral disorders. In most cases, the cat will become aggressive towards everyone, even its owners.

If you see even one of these symptoms, it is extremely important to see your veterinarian as soon as possible so that he can make a diagnosis. It could be a whole other less serious problem, and in this case, all the better, but with feline depression, prevention is better than cure.

Causes of cat depression

If your cat presents one or more of the symptoms mentioned above, and the veterinarian has finally diagnosed depression, it is important to determine the cause, in order to be able to react in the best way, and especially to learn a lesson for the future if ever the origin of this depression comes from its environment.

Determining the cause of a cat’s depression is not always easy, as the origins can be diverse. However, here is a list of the main causes of depression in cats:

  • Weaning too young: A kitten separated too early from its mother can find itself lost in a world it has not yet had time to understand. He will constantly feel in a weak position which can push him to depression. We cannot say it enough, a kitten is weaned at the age of three months and not before!
  • A feeling of abandonment: A cat that has been abandoned by owners to whom it was attached can fall into a deep depression, even if it is subsequently adopted by a loving family. This feeling can also be felt when his owners are too little present for him. The cat will eventually withdraw into itself and fall into depression.
  • A sudden change in the environment: It is well known that cats are animals that hold fast to their habits and routine, but sometimes it’s too much. A cat that experiences a sudden move can go into depression, as it will lose all its bearings and feel vulnerable.
  • The loss of a loved one: A cat can be very attached to another living being. It can of course be his master, but also another animal with which he has shared his daily life for a long time: a congener or an animal of another breed. The death of a loved one can therefore strongly affect a cat, and cause it to be depressed.
  • Boredom: This problem particularly affects cats living in apartments, and is often linked to the feeling of abandonment coming from a master who is too little present. You have to realize that as humans, we can go out as much as we want, and can do a lot of things for enjoyment at home (movies, books, etc.) but cats do not have this freedom. It will therefore be necessary to make sure to be present for our feline companions, and if you are away a lot, try to arrange your apartment so that it is playful for your cat or takeout the kitten with you.

Solutions to get a cat out of its depressed state

A cat with depression is not sentenced automatically, but unfortunately, it will be very difficult to get it out. The first thing to do will be to identify the cause of this depressive state and to act accordingly.

In the majority of cases, you, as the master, will have to give him back the will to live. Whether after abandonment, a death, or a sudden move, it will be up to you to stimulate your cat. Unlimited hugs and caresses and games (even if he doesn’t react from the start).

If your cat went into depression because he was too bored, review the layout of your apartment, build him courses, and perch so that he can live in a real play space.

Everything will have to be done carefully so that your cat regains the desire to live, and this should be your priority, even if it means taking a vacation for that. Remember that this disease is fatal, and only you can cure it.

If despite all this the condition of your cat does not improve, it will be best to call in a behaviorist, a specialist in behavioral disorders in cats.

Antidepressants are also available, but as humans, these drugs will only help, but will not cure your cat’s gloom. It will be up to you to do the job.

Prevent cat depression

As said above, with depression it is better to be safe than sorry. And fortunately, it is quite possible.

First of all, remember that your cat needs attention, petting, and cuddling on a daily basis, but he will also need to be stimulated. So don’t hesitate to make him play daily, throw him a ball, wave a string in front of his nose, no matter how long he feels loved, surrounded, and alive.

In the event of a more serious event (death, abandonment, etc.), do not wait until his psychological state is at its worst before acting. Be there for him, hug him, and show him that he is not alone, that he is loved.


About Savi

Savi is a regular writer and social activist. She also writes for BBC, Huffington Posts and others.

View all posts by Savi →

Leave a Reply