Cats may seem pretty stoic and uninterested in much of what goes on around them, but they actually have a range of emotions that is just as deep as that of any animal. They can be happy, anxious, needy and even depressed. PetMD warns that it can be tricky to tell what is causing a cat to become depressed, but you can usually see obvious signs that depression is affecting them. Here are 10 to watch for.
1. Lack of Appetite
If your cat normally eats well and leaves little to no food behind but then starts to not seem interested in her food, then you may have a depressed cat on your hands. This is one of the first and most obvious signs of depression in cats.
2. Urinating Outside the Litter Area
Another early sign of depression that’s easy to notice, according to Pet Central, is when your cat refuses to relieve herself in the proper place. A potty trained or housetrained cat that starts to show signs of poor litter use is probably suffering from a health problem of some kind. Nevertheless, it’s worth making sure you invest in a great cat litter box (there’s some honest reviews here), place it in an easy to reach place, and ensure it’s sanitary, healthy environment for your cat.
3. Nausea and Vomiting
These symptoms don’t necessarily mean your cat is depressed, but when coupled with some of the others on this list, they are a good indicator that depression is occurring.
Some cats are simply lazy, but sometimes when your cat behaves like it has no energy anymore, this is a sign that it isn’t doing very well mentally.
5. Specific Body Language
When your cat walks with its ears held back, it’s hair on end or its tail tucked, then that kind of body language can indicate a mental health problem. That is simply not normal cat behavior for a healthy feline. You can find out more about what’s healthy body language for cats here.
6. Aggressive Behavior
Sometimes, a depressed cat will act out, behaving extra fearful in the face of danger or surprise or becoming aggressive for little reason. If you see these uncharacteristic mood swings, then you should consider that your cat may have a mental health problem.
7. Lack of Grooming
Cats that are depressed will not spend as much time or effort taking care of themselves. If you see your cat looking uncouth and poorly groomed, then that should indicate to you that something is wrong.
8. Excessive Scratching
Cats can often relieve stress by scratching where they normally wouldn’t or scratching more than usual. Look for this sign as an indication that your cat is unwell.
9. Hiding Often
When your cat spends a lot of time hiding, that can show that it wants alone time and is being fearful, which are both signs of depressed animals. You may want to use a cat tracker to help locate your cat faster, if it is engaged in this kind of behavior.
10. Extra Clingy
If your cat sticks with you wherever you go and seems more needy than usual, then that could tell you that your cat isn’t feeling itself. This could be a sign that your cat has low confidence, which goes along with depression.
What You Can Do to Help
If your cat is experiencing these symptoms and is depressed, then you don’t need to despair. There are ways that you can help your cat get back to her own self again.
One of the best things to do is to give your cat some mental and physical stimulation. Like humans who are experiencing depression, getting the cat out of her rut often involves distracting her from the reason she is depressed and giving her some motivation to move around. A cat tree can be a great way to entice your cat into some physical movement, as cats absolutely love to climb, and there may just not be anything suitable in the house or yard for your cat to climb on.
You’ll want to spend more time with your cat, engaging her mind and body in play, and it’s a good idea to use cat toys, a ball of yarn or a pointer light to engage your cat even for a few minutes each day to help break her free from her depressed state. If these methods don’t work, then you will want to take your cat to the veterinarian for a professional assessment and treatment.