Cats are often looked upon as pillars of stoicism, independence and cool -- often even in the face of adversity. However, that doesn't mean that the furry little things aren't prone to emotion, too. Felines often experience intense anxiety and depression, typically as a result of major lifestyle changes.
Cats and change go together about as well as peanut butter and spaghetti -- that is to say, not well at all. Felines are very routine-oriented and because of this are very vulnerable to stress, anxiety and depression amidst unfamiliarity. Some examples of changes that can lead to kitty depression are the death of a beloved family member or fluffy companion, moving to a new home and the emergence of a new pet or baby in the household. All of these factors often make for a not-so-happy cat.
Tension and fighting can also make cats feel at unease. Cats are very intuitive creatures and are more aware of their surroundings than you may think. If a married couple is in the throes of a messy divorce, a pet may pick up on all of the telltale fighting and conflict. When the household isn't happy, kitty won't be happy, either. Cats, not unlike many humans, thrive on routine, predictability and harmony.
If you're not quite as intuitive as your fluff ball, then it may not be easy for you to notice your cat's emotional roller coaster. However, a lot of cats make their depression and anxiety obvious. Look for key hints that all is not merry in your cat's world, such as appetite loss, grooming neglect, too much grooming, unusually aggressive behavior, decreased physical activity, hiding away from humans, sleeping more, litter box problems and loud meowing and yowling. All of these signs point to something being amiss, so pay close attention.
Even if you feel helpless, you can assist your kitty in getting through the rough patch. When cats are stressed out and depressed, a little bit -- or a lot -- of love, attention and TLC can go a long way. Get your pet's mind off her woes by spending quality time with her. Rub her belly as you watch Monday night television. Throw her catnip ball across the room so she can chase it. Get her an interactive motorized toy mouse. Make a point to have a positive interaction with your cat at least once a day. She is worth it, after all. If a new pet or baby in the home is the issue, your cat's depression could be related to feeling overwhelmed. If this is the case, set up a calm and quiet haven within your home for your cat. Give your pet a relaxing sanctuary to be away from it all, full of water, food, toys and maybe even a scenic window perch!
If your cat's depression doesn't seem to be letting up any time soon, schedule an appointment with the veterinarian immediately. Her unusual behavior could be a sign of another health condition, whether kidney disease or diabetes. Your veterinarian also may be able to prescribe a temporary anti-anxiety medication for your on-edge bundle of joy.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.