Treatment Options for a Depressed Cat

A depressed cat is quiet and lethargic. The severity of the condition will dictate a proper treatment. In some cases, you can treat your pet at home with more attention and herbal remedies, while more serious cases will require medication or therapy.

Symptoms of a Depressed Cat

Look out for the following symptoms that point to depression:

  • Lack of appetite
  • The cat sleeps more and is less active
  • Hiding behavior; the cat will hide to avoid contact
  • Spraying
  • Aggression and irritability
  • Excessive vocalization, especially when grieving a lost companion
  • Excessive licking, chewing and biting of skin and coat
  • Hair loss
  • Bald spots

These symptoms are present in other medical conditions, so you need to take your cat to the vet to establish an accurate diagnosis. Depression is difficult to diagnose in cats, but may be diagnosed by ruling out any possible diseases.

Causes of Depression

Depression in cats may be caused by the lack of attention, boredom, loss of a companion or family member, separation from a previous owner or health issues.

Treatment Options

A depressed cat has a weaker immune system, so it is important to treat depression, to prevent other illnesses.

The first method recommended by vets is to offer extra attention to your depressed cat. Play with him, use reassuring words and massage him gently, so that he feels accepted and loved. Keep your cat busy with different games and toys to distract him.

Homeopathic remedies may also give comfort to your cat: St. John’s wort, ignatia, chamomile or matricaria recuita. These plants are available in pet health stores. You can use drops with plant extracts on the skin of the cat; the aroma will soothe him. Alternatively, get some tinctures and add these to the cat food.

Exposure to sun or more light can improve your cat’s mood.

Some vets recommend playing music for your cat; play familiar, calming tunes.

If your cat grieves for a deceased companion, make sure to remove any things that may have the smell of the lost pet. Cats have an astute sense of smell, and identifying the smell of the lost friend can cause sadness. You may also get a new pet, which can boost your cat’s disposition.


If the depression persists, the cat may need medication. A mild antidepressant will be prescribed.

Prozac, valium or phenobarbital are antidepressants that are effective for cats.

The side effects of antidepressants include:

  • Behavioral changes
  • Sleepiness
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Aggression
  • Lack of appetite

Fluoxetine hydrochloride is a serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and is present in antidepressants such as prozac, but elevates blood glucose and shouldn’t be administered to diabetic cats.

Tramadol is a pain medication, but may be used to treat feline depression. Tramadol has fewer side effects: drowsiness, upset stomach, constipation or whining in some cases.

In case your pet suffers from chemical imbalance he may get antidepressants or hormonal therapy.

If the depression is caused by a medical condition, the vet will prescribe medication specific to each condition.

Exercising is a great way to fight or prevent depression.