Recognizing the Symptoms and Treating the Disease
Think people are the only ones that get the blues? Think again. Cats often suffer from depression as a result of major changes in their routines, such as the death of a family member or companion animal, loneliness or a change in their environment.
Diagnosing Feline Depression
To be depressed is to be sad or despondent for a prolonged period of time. Cats, too, get the “blahs” or can get “down in the dumps.” If your feline friend doesn’t meow as often as she used to, doesn’t greet you with her usual enthusiasm when you return home, snubs her snout at her food or loses her appetite altogether when she’s normally a big eater, any change in your cat’s mood or personality could indicate she may be exhibiting symptoms of depression.
Additional signs of feline depression include:
- Lack of grooming
- Signs of lethargy or changes in personality
- Increased sleeping
- Hiding in an isolated place for extended periods of time
Additionally, the signs listed above as well as loss of appetite or lethargy can be indicators of a number of other illnesses. It’s best to consult with your veterinarian right away to rule out any life-threatening health conditions.
What You Can Do
Be sure to lavish plenty of attention on your feline friend. If possible, play with her for at least 30 minutes a day, including having her chase balls or other toys that get her up and exercising so that she feels good.
Even quality time brushing and grooming kitty can give her a sense of connection with you.
The behavior of cats is somewhat unpredictable, so catnip should be used with caution. Some cats will become overly aggressive and excited when exposed to this “kitty drug.”
Not home during the day? Leave the blinds or curtains open for Miss Whiskers so she can watch birds or have a view of what is going on outside. You might also consider adding another animal to your household so your four-legged friend has some company throughout the day. Leaving a radio on or having a pet-sitter come over during the day can also keep your cat from getting lonely.
Seek Professional Help First
It is a well-known fact that cats are masters at hiding illness. Occult illness must be ruled out by a thorough veterinary examination and consultation prior to treatment for behavioral depression of cats.
After a diagnosis of behavioral depression has been established, prescription antidepressants along with behavioral modification techniques may be suggested by your veterinarian.
Help Prevent Depression
Think your cat is depressed? CatChannel.com, the Web site for cat lovers, has a checklist cat owners can go through to determine whether or not their cats display symptoms that are common indicators of feline depression.
The best thing you can do for your cat is to provide a routine, stress-free environment to help avoid the onset of depression. Additionally, schedule your feline friend for routine examinations with her veterinarian to rule out any medical conditions and to keep her healthy and happy.