Symptoms of Depression in Cats

by Naomi Millburn, Demand Media
    Change often triggers depression in cats.

    Change often triggers depression in cats.

    You may think of your cat as a tough little thing, always cool, calm and in control. Although that certainly may be true most of the time, it doesn't mean that our furry friends aren't susceptible to depression. Cats have more in common with humans than we sometimes realize!

    Sleeping

    Cats often are pretty sleepy creatures, but depressed ones tend to sleep even more than usual. Observe your cat's sleeping routine. If you notice that she's asleep more and is less active in general, depression could be at fault. Unhappy felines often tend to exhibit uncharacteristically low energy, whether it comes to playing with toys or exploring around your home.

    Appetite

    Appetite changes often are indicative of kitty stress. If your precious pet usually scarfs down her supper like there's no tomorrow, but all of a sudden just couldn't care less, consider her overall mood. Melancholy cats eat less and, unsurprisingly, usually lose weight as a result. Monitor your cat's eating habits and her weight.

    Grooming

    Grooming differences also could be related to depression. At one end of the spectrum, a depressed cat may stop grooming or caring for her coat entirely. At the other end, she may do so in excess to the point of pulling out large clumps of hair with her teeth -- yikes! This obsessive licking and hair-pulling also is a very common symptom of cat anxiety, which usually goes hand in hand with feline depression.

    Withdrawn Behavior

    When a normally friendly cat suddenly begins behaving distantly, look into the possibility of depression. If your sweet kitty used to snuggle up right next to you to sleep, but now instead hides from you all of the time, the problem could be a little more serious than a mere bad mood. Your cat may hide away in faraway areas of your home and just be a lot quieter in general. For cats that normally are on the grouchy side, however, this symptom may be difficult to notice!

    Vocalization

    In some instances, depressed cats become a lot louder. To voice dissatisfaction, your not-so-happy camper may become increasingly vocal, especially at night when the whole house is trying to get some sleep! Look for loud and persistent yowling and meowing sounds. Excessive vocalization is common especially in feline depression caused by the loss of an owner or fellow pet companion.

    Aggressive Behavior

    Normally relaxed and peaceful kitties suddenly may become aggressive and irritable due to depression. If your cat growls and hisses whenever any unsuspecting individual approaches -- whether it is you or another pet -- depression is a possibility. Unhappy cats also may try to attack more, so be very careful when around them.

    Litter Box Issues

    Messy and icky litter box issues also could be a sign of feline depression. When a normally well-behaved cat out of nowhere starts having accidents on your floor, something is definitely wrong. Cats also may act out their anxiety and frustration by territorial urine spraying in your home.

    Veterinary Attention

    A cat can get depressed because of big changes, such as the passing of one of her most beloved companions or moving to a totally different and bigger house. A cat can get depressed because of various health conditions, including kidney disease and diabetes. Whatever the cause, veterinary attention is crucial. Your kitty is worth it.

    About the Author

    Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

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