Feline Feelings: Is My Cat Depressed?

Feline Feelings: Is My Cat Depressed?


by Ben Team

Grumpy cats may be quite popular on the internet, but feline depression is no laughing matter. In addition to the emotional misery that characterizes the ailment, untreated depression can increase the odds of your cat suffering from other health ailments. 

And unfortunately, many owners remain blissfully unaware that their cat is struggling, so they fail to take steps to rectify the issue. But this doesn’t have to be the case; the signs of depression in cats are often relatively easy to recognize. 

We’ll outline some of the most common signs of depression below, and — more importantly — we’ll detail a few of the easiest and most effective strategies you can employ to help your feline friend feel better. 

Signs of Trouble: Do You Have a Depressed Cat?  

Your pet can’t tell you how she’s feeling, so you need to look for clues that indicate you may have a depressed cat on your hands. A few of the most common symptoms of depression in cats include:

  1. A Reduced Appetite:  Even finicky cats should still exhibit a healthy appetite, but sad cats may stop eating food very much at all. Food refusal often leads to malnutrition, which can, in turn, cause further health problems. So a reduced appetite should always spur you to take action.
  2. Withdrawal or Hiding:  Some cats are loners who like to keep to themselves, but those who are depressed may spend even more time hiding and avoiding members of the family than usual. Take special note of cats who spend time alone during occasions in which they’d normally seek your attention, such as dinner time or right before bed.  
  3. Reduced Activity:  Cats certainly enjoy lounging around from time to time, but those who spend all of their time lazing and sleeping may be suffering from depression. This doesn’t mean that all lazy cats are depressed, but you should investigate further if your normally active cat begins lying around all day. 
  4. Unusual Behaviors:  All cats do pretty strange things from time to time — that’s normal. But if your cat begins acting differently than he usually does, he may be depressed. For example, sad cats that are normally gentle may become antagonistic, or those who are typically gregarious may begin avoiding the family.  

Note that many of these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions. For example, pain, digestive system discomfort and hormonal issues can also cause cats to display some of the signs listed above. 

Accordingly, it is always important to consult with your vet if you believe your cat is depressed. This way, your vet can rule out medical causes for your pet’s mood and confirm that your cat is indeed depressed.  

Solutions for Down-in-the-Dumps Felines

Depression is certainly a condition that requires treatment, but fortunately, there are several things you can do to help your cat return to her normal self. Just be sure to solicit your vet’s advice if you’re unable to lift your cat’s spirits after a short period of time. 

Spend More Time Interacting with Your Cat

Cats may be relatively independent creatures, but most still enjoy — even crave — attention from their humans. So, consider dedicating a little time for your cat each day to help ensure you’re meeting her emotional needs. 

This doesn’t mean you need to set aside hours of time for cat play.

As little as 10 minutes of quality time in the morning and again in the afternoon may help lift your feline’s spirits and put a little pep back in her step. 

Provide Your Cat with New Toys or Furniture

Insufficient mental stimulation can cause your cat to become depressed, so it is important to make sure that you keep your cat’s brain busy. Human-cat interaction will help some, but you should also make sure your cat has toys and other objects to keep her occupied when you can’t play with her. 

Interactive toys are very helpful in this regard, but don’t feel like you need to provide your cat with anything elaborate to keep her entertained. A new climbing post or perch will give her plenty to explore and inspect, and a simple cardboard box will even spark her inquisitive side and give her something to do for a while.  

CBD for Cats: Considering Treats or Tinctures

Short for cannabidiol, CBD is one of the main compounds found in hemp plants. Although it should not be confused with THC — the cannabis compound known for getting humans “high” — CBD also interacts with the endocannabinoid system, which is present in all mammals. 

Some studies have demonstrated that CBD may help ease depression in humans. While research on animals, cats in particular, is still needed, some cat owners are excited about CBD’s potential to help our four-footed friends. 

Consult with your veterinarian if you suspect that your pet is depressed and if you’d like to begin using CBD for cats. If your vet agrees that CBD may help, consider browsing Heelr’s broad selection of CBD chews and tinctures

Ben Team is a lifelong environmental educator and animal-care professional who now writes about animals, outdoor recreation and the natural world. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with a spoiled-rotten Rottweiler, who is probably begging him to go to the park at this very moment. 


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