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Cats are creatures of habit and they enjoy having a routine. Some cats can become unsettled if something in their environment or daily routine changes. How cats may show signs of stress: Increased vocalisation Urinating outside of the litter tray Constipation or diarrhoea Sleeping more Hiding Excessive grooming Eating less Sleeping more If you are concerned that your cat is displaying these signs, you should visit your vet for advice and to rule out any potential health issues. The symptoms of depression in cats almost always stem from some diagnosable cause.

Your vet will likely talk to you about any recent changes in your lifestyle that may be impacting your cat. Did you move to a new house? Start a different job? Go through a divorce? Some cats become depressed through a lack of stimulation. You will likely notice your cat licking herself for long periods of time. She may also develop bald spots or rashes due to too much grooming.

Take note of how often your cat is hiding. Cats are social animals, but like the occasional moments to themselves. It's not atypical for a cat to have a favorite hiding spot, like a dresser drawer or closet, but too much hiding can be a sign of depression. When depressed, your cat may hide in a hard to find place. Rather than simply taking refuge in the closet, for example, she might burrow into a corner where she cannot be seen.

Some cats hide more than others, but if you're used to your cat spending time in the living room during afternoons and she's suddenly nowhere to be seen this might be a sign of depression. Watch for litter box problems. Litter box issues are linked to stress, which is a symptom of depression in cats.

Signs of Depression in Cats and Dogs & How to Help

Understand the difference between urine marking and urination. Urine marking is a form of marking territory and usually unrelated to feline depression. The urine is usually found on vertical surfaces, tends to produce a pungent odor, and is generally the work of male cats. If your cat is urine marking, this is likely because he feels his territory is threatened and not a result of depression. However, tensions between cats and other pets can lead to feelings of anxiety, stress, and depression. Make sure to manage any territorial disputes before they result in mental health issues. If you're finding urine or feces around the house, this might also be a sign of feline depression.

Cats may urinate outside the litter box due to disliking the size, shape, or litter type and may also urinate outside the box if the litter is dirty. If your litter box is clean, and you haven't made any recent changes regarding the box, the urination may be related to depression.

Method 2 Quiz How can you tell if your cat is depressed? It is sleeping more than 12 hours per day. It purrs more often. It hides more than normal. Method 3. Give your cat adequate attention. Depression in cats can be due to inadequate attention. Make sure you're giving your cat all the love she needs to feel happy and secure. Cats are social animals, but tend to be more independent. Cats will generally signify when they want attention, and it's best to let them come to you. If your cat approaches you and engages in welcoming behavior, like rubbing against your legs or nuzzling you, she's craving attention.

While it's not always possible to drop everything and indulge your cat's needs, you should at least give her a quick pat and stroke her to let her know you appreciate her. Cats enjoy stimulating activity, so make sure you play with your cat. A good range is 15 or 20 minutes a day. Cats enjoy toys like strings and animal-shaped plush toys you can toss for them to chase.

However, never rough house with a cat. Some owners wrestle with their cats using their hands, but this can cause a cat to become timid and engage in aggressive behavior. Make sure your cat has some form of entertainment when you are out of the house. If you've recently taken a busy job, and you believe your cat's depression is a response to this change, try to keep him happy when you are away.


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There are a variety of ways to make sure your cat is entertained when you are not present. Leave the curtains open during the day, especially if you live in a rural area. Make sure there's a table, dresser, or other perch your cat is allowed to climb on in front of the window. Cats love watching the outdoors, and having access to sunlight and entertainment while you're gone. Such movies feature stimuli cats will enjoy, like birds, mice, and other cats. Just be careful, as cats may jump and bat the TV. Make sure your TV is secure and is not likely to fall and break in response to a cat's curiosity.

There are also puzzle games, in which a toy or piece of food is placed in a contraption. Your cat must figure out how to open this contraption to get her reward and this can keep her engaged while you are gone. However, be careful. Some toys have warnings on them advising you not leave your cat alone with them. Make sure you pick toys that are safe to leave out while you're away. Try light therapy. If your cat's depression is related to seasonal changes, light therapy might help curb winter depression.

Buy a light that simulates UV rays and turn it on for a few hours a day in your cat's presence. Such lights are often sold in greenhouses, as people purchase them to grow plants indoors.

Symptoms of depression in cats

You can buy it from the online retailer Pawsitive Lighting. It produces bright, white light and manufacturers recommend exposing your cat to it 30 minutes a day during winter months. Try synthetic pheromones. Your veterinarian can recommend brands of synthetic pheromones designed to encourage feelings of relaxation and happiness in cats.

6 Warning Signs That Your Cat Is Depressed

Feliway spray is one of the most popular synthetic pheromones, and you should be able to get a supply at your veterinarian's office. Use only as the directions instruct and ask your vet if you have any questions or concerns about Feliway spray. Consider medication. Medication is generally considered a last resort to treat feline depression due to possible side effects and the difficulty of getting cats to take medication.

There are four types of medications used to treat depression and other behavioral issues in cats: benzodiazepines BZs , monoamine oxidase inhibitors MAOIs , tricyclic antidepressants TCAs and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors SSRIs. Some can be quite serious, so make sure you speak to your vet about and understand all possible side effects before giving your cat any medication.

Most veterinarians only prescribe meds as a last resort. If your vet suggests meds, make sure you know the proper protocol for administration, dosage, and storage.


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  • If you're confused or concerned about anything, do not hesitate to contact your vet and ask. Method 3 Quiz How do synthetic pheromones help feline depression? They act as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. They promote feelings of relaxation and happiness. They combat depression related to seasonal changes. They stimulate your cat when you're gone. Can getting into a fight with another cat cause my cat to be depressed? Fighting is a symptom of stress between cats. The fight might be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to tension over food, resources, or space.

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    A cat that is stressed over access to the litter box or being allowed to eat in peace is likely to become depressed over time. Yes No. Not Helpful 4 Helpful There are many reasons why an older cat doesn't groom as much as a younger one, and hence retains his coat. One explanation is behavioral depression , but physical factors are more likely, such as arthritis making it difficult to turn round or dental pain. If this is the first time this has happened, a vet check is in order. Also, brushing the cat daily will sort out the coat and act as therapy to help the cat feel loved. Not Helpful 3 Helpful Take them to the vet immediately.

    There are a number of serious illnesses that can cause these symptoms and some are fatal. Your cat could be extremely sick and needs to be seen as soon as possible. Not Helpful 2 Helpful What does it mean when your cat doesn't eat or drink and their eyes look different? Your kitty could be extremely sick. Please take them to the vet immediately. My 8-year-old cat changed his sleeping place from my bed to the floor, and his movements seem so tired. This suddenly happened after I tried to clean mites from his ears.