Cat Depression Symptoms

Cat depression can be a reaction to stress, boredom or illness. If your cat is showing signs of depression, consult your veterinarian to rule out medical causes before attempting behavior modification.

Symptoms of Cat Depression

Signs of feline depression are similar to those of human depression, and have many of the same causes. If your cat is depressed, he may show decreased interest in things he used to enjoy, such as playing and exploring, eating, grooming and interacting with you or other family cats.

You also may see behavioral changes, such as increased vocalization, increased irritability, aggression or inappropriate elimination outside the litter box. He may sleep more in general, or sleep more during the day and roam the house at night.

Every cat is different, so it's important to note what's normal for your cat. Some cats sleep more than others, eat more than others and interact with their owners more than others. If you notice a sudden change in your cat's activity, he could be suffering from depression.

Owners should be able to detect a change in the frequency of interaction with their cat, even in pets that prefer more solitude. If your cat is hiding more to avoid you, he might be suffering from depression. He may lose interest in cat toys that he used to enjoy or sleep in the afternoon when he used to look out the window at the birds. These actions will vary from cat to cat, but the change will be noticeable.

Causes of Cat Depression

Many health problems can cause loss of appetite, lethargy and behavioral changes, so any sudden behavior changes should be evaluated by a veterinarian first.

If there are no health problems, a lifestyle change could be causing your cat's depression. Cats are very sensitive to environmental changes. If you recently changed your job, moved, lost a pet or family member, had a baby or introduced your cat to a new significant other, he might be responding to that change. Cats can even be stressed by a change in food or litter.

Your cat could be depressed because he's bored. Indoor cats don't receive a lot of stimulation, so he may not be receiving all the mental exercise that he needs daily.

Reducing Cat Depression Symptoms

If your cat is suffering from an illness, the only way to treat the depression is to treat the illness. However, if there is no illness, there are many things you can do to improve your cat's environment.

  • If your cat is stressed about a lifestyle change, try to reduce that stress as much as possible. No matter what the circumstances, spend extra time interacting with your cat.
  • Cats also respond to routine, so try not to change your cat's food, cat litter or toys during this time. Try to make meal and play times the same each day.
  • If your cat is bored, add more cat toys and scratch posts to his environment. Spend time playing with him each day. Rotate cat toys daily or weekly so he is surprised with "new" toys regularly.

Depression can be devastating to your cat, so if you notice a change in his behavior, be sure to improve his environment and spend time with him.