No one prances to your pillow to knead your face at night. Opening a can of tuna in the kitchen goes unnoticed. If your pouty kitty doesn’t start showing some enthusiasm soon, you’re going to change her name to Gloom and Doom.
It’s not uncommon for cats to come down with the blues. Caused by such things as illness, loneliness, lack of exercise or even winter darkness, depression can make kitties lethargic, mopey and sad.
Sudden changes in lifestyle can also cause emotional upheavals in cats. They may get depressed following the death of one of their friends, for example, or after moving to a new house. Cats can even get depressed from having the furniture rearranged.
Here’s what experts recommend to raise your kitty’s spirits.
Make time for play. Throwing yourself into some wholehearted play with your cat is perhaps the best way to take her mind off her troubles. Get on the floor and tickle her belly and be silly, letting her know it’s okay to play. The exercise from play stimulates the release of endorphins, chemicals in the body that heighten good feelings. A cat tree is also a great idea to improve mental health!
Reflect the fun. Putting up a mirror where your kitty can see her own reflection will give her a sense that she’s not alone and help keep her from feeling lonely.
Don’t reward his moping. One of the worst things you can do when your cat is depressed is stroke, pamper or otherwise “reward” him for feeling bad. You may even make things worse. It’s good to give him attention, but only if you stay upbeat and cheerful. If you’re enthusiastic, there’s a good chance your cat will be, too.
Convince her your friends are exciting. It’s common for cats to feel left out when someone new—like a boyfriend or another pet—enters the owner’s life. We are our pets’ loved ones, and they don’t want to share our love with other people or pets. To help your cat get used to new friends, try this strategy: Ignore your cat, just a little bit, when the two of you are alone. Turn on the attention when the new person (or pet) is around. Have a play session on the floor or just give her an extra treat. Pretty soon your kitty will associate the new person with good times and will be less likely to mope.
Prepare him for baby. Having a new baby in the family will often make cats jealous and depressed. To lighten the blow, don’t drop a bomb on them suddenly. If you’re pregnant, start wearing baby powder and baby lotion so the cat gets used to the smells. You can also play a recording of a baby crying so your cat gets used to the ‘strange’ sound.
And include him in the fun. If you separate the new baby from the kitty and don’t pay any attention to the cat anymore, you’ll probably end up with problems. Try putting a lattice-type gate across the door to the nursery. This will keep your cat outside while still allowing him to keep tabs on what’s going on.
Save him a piece of home. Moving to a new house or apartment can be a depressing experience for cats. To make the transition less trying, prepare a special box or cat carrier. Line it with your kitty’s usual bedding and put in some of his favorite toys. With a “safe” place to retire to, he’ll feel more secure and confident in his new abode.
Plant little surprises. For cats, home is where the treats are. Some vets recommend “salting” the new place with exciting toys or tasty treats or a cat exercise wheel, which she’ll discover on her own. Instead of being depressing, moving day will become an adventure day.
Use music to cheer her up. Cats often enjoy music and are less likely to feel depressed when something pleasant is playing. Vets say classical music, particularly gentle flutes and string instruments, could have a relaxing effect.
Play it her way. Rather than playing human music for your cat, why not play some of their own? The CD Jingle Cats Meowy Christmas, which features cat sounds made into holiday carols, is a popular choice.
Put on a movie. Another way to keep your cat perky is to play an animal video. Turn on the video when you leave the house in the morning, or keep the TV tuned to Animal Planet when you run out for an errand.
Allow time to mourn. It’s not uncommon when a pet dies or runs away for her friends to suffer deep depression. Pets demonstrate a deep love for one another, just as people do. There’s no instant cure for grief, but giving your cat plenty of love will help him get through the difficult time.
Help him make new friends. While it’s not always possible to “replace” a pet, many cats will feel better when they have another furry companion to play with.
Give a room with a view. Without a lot of stimulation, many cats get bored and depressed. To help keep your feline friend entertained, make sure she has a windowsill or cat perch. Watching birds, butterflies or even people going by will often help keep her spirits high.
Attract a show. To get even more entertainment value from your windows, install a birdhouse or feeder outside. Many cats will watch the ongoing “show” for hours at time.
When to See the Vet
While cat depression is usually nothing more than a short-term bout with the blues, it can also be a warning sign that something serious is wrong.
A cat that’s lethargic, not eating and generally moping about could have a physical problem, like thyroid disease, pancreatitis or even heartworms.
Even if the problem turns out to be behavioral or emotional, the symptoms of depression, such as not eating, can make your cat sick. Don’t take chances. Call your vet if he’s mopey and hasn’t eaten in 36 hours.
In conclusion, cat depression is a common issue that can be caused by various factors such as illness, loneliness, lack of exercise, or major life changes. Fortunately, there are several ways to help boost your cat’s spirits and alleviate their blues.
Engaging in playtime, providing stimulation, and introducing new experiences can help distract them from their troubles and release feel-good endorphins. It’s important to avoid reinforcing their moping behavior and instead offer positive attention and interaction. Additionally, gradual introductions and making accommodations for new situations can help ease their transition and reduce stress. Remember, if your cat’s depression persists or is accompanied by concerning symptoms, it’s crucial to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues. By taking proactive measures and offering support, you can help your feline friend overcome their depression and restore their overall well-being.