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How To Tell If A Cat Is Depressed

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Emergency Situations And Your Cat

How to Tell if a Cat Is Depressed

Certain situations may be considered urgent. You shouldn’t wait for an appointment at your vet when your cat is experiencing an emergency. Keep information about after-hours veterinarians handy in case you need to rush to one. If you see the signs of an emergency, do not delay. Go to the closest open veterinarian immediately:

  • Trauma
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Gums that are blue, white, or very pale
  • Collapse, unconsciousness, or unresponsiveness
  • Exposure to a poisonous substance
  • Severe pain
  • Body temperature over 104 or under 99 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Hasn’t eaten properly in 24 hours

If you notice anything else your cat does that worries you, it’s better to be safe than sorry. You can call your vet or the emergency vet if you need help deciding if something is an emergency.

Nine Signs Of Depression In Cats

Most cats dont live very active lives and easily sleep for twelve to sixteen hours a day. Their personalities are temperamental, disinterested, and aloof for a majority of their waking hours. But sooner or later, youll take notice of changes in their cat behavior that could signal depression. Here are signs of depression that you can look out for:

  • Loss of appetite or disinterest in cat treats
  • Symptoms Of Cat Depression Include But Are Not Limited To:

    Just because your cat exhibits any one or more of these symptoms doesnt automatically mean hes in the throes of depression. He could be presenting with physical or behavioral signals that point to other illnesses, so its important to visit your vet and rule those out before considering cat depression.

    Cat consultant Ingrid King advises, To treat feline depression, physical symptoms need to be addressed first, especially inappetence. A cat who doesnt eat for 24 to 48 hours is at risk for developing hepatic lipidosis, a life-threatening condition.

    Here are common reasons for cat depression and some possible solutions for responding to them.

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    How Can You Tell If A Cat Is Depressed

    Some depressed cats may exhibit very obvious changes in behavior, whereas other cats may only exhibit subtle signs that you need to carefully look for.

    Cats experiencing depression may show:

    • Loss of interest in playing with their toys

    • Less interest in interacting with feline/canine housemates or family members

    • Increased vocalizations

    • An increase in the amount of time spent sleeping

    • A decreased in the amount of time spent grooming

    • Increased frequency of urination in the litter box

    • House soiling or not consistently using their litter box. Whenever a cat does not consistently use the litter box, take your cat to your vet to be examined.

    Some of these signs can also be exhibited by a cat if they have an underlying health problem. Cats are predators to small creatures but prey to larger predators. As prey animals, cats have learned to hide the signs of any physical illness really well. Therefore, it is always important to have your cat examined by your veterinarian and diagnostic tests performed to rule out any underlying medical problems.

    Loss Of A Family Member

    Many people still think of cats as solitary in nature. However, cats can be more or less social, depending on their experiences and living situations, and they can experience loss and grief similar to people.

    When a family member moves out of the house or passes away, the family cat will experience a loss if they had a social connection to that person. It is also not uncommon for cats to grieve when a feline or canine housemate leaves or dies.

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    Giving Your Cat Medication

  • 1Get a prescription from your vet for Clomipramine. This drug belongs to the tricyclic antidepressant group, and there is a licensed veterinary version available, which makes this drug the first and ideal choice for your vet to prescribe. Clomipramine acts by inhibiting the reuptake of certain neurotransmitters by tissue, which prolongs their effects in the circulation.XResearch sourceClomipramine. Plumb’s Veterinary Drug Handbook. location 17065 It also reduces urine spraying in cats, which is another symptom of depression.XResearch source
  • Your vet will prescribe a total dose of 2- 4 mg once a day. The smallest tablet is 5mg so an ideal starting dose is half a tablet a day.
  • 2Ask your vet for a prescription for Amitriptyline. This drug has a complex mode of action but helps to increase levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, mainly serotonin and norepinephrine, that are associated with feelings of wellbeing. Amitriptyline is a human prescription medication, so needs to be prescribed by your veterinarian.XResearch sourceAmitriptyline. Plumb’s Veterinary Drug Handbook.
  • The prescribed dose is 5-10 mg per cat once daily.
  • The smallest available tablet is 10mg so this is equivalent to taking half or one tablet a day.
  • The prescribed dose of fluoxetine is 2.5-5 mg per cat once a day.
  • The prescribed dose of paroxetine is also 2.5 – 5 mg per cat once a day.
  • Keep in mind that it may take two weeks before therapeutic levels are reached in the blood stream.
  • Changes In Physical Health

    If an active cat starts to develop arthritis and can no longer jump up to their comfy spot on the couch, bed, or window, it can be depressing and lead to a loss of enrichment. As a result, your cat can become depressed.

    In situations when a cat experiences a sudden loss of a limb or an eye, or they start losing their sight, that would totally affect how they navigate in the world. Some cats may adjust really well, but an older cat may take longer to adjust and may become depressed.

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    How To Tell If A Cat Is Depressed

    Have you ever wondered is my cat depressed? It wasnt too long ago that people thought of animals as not having many feelings at all, but we now know that cats and other animals feel a wide range of emotions. Cats can feel happiness, excitement and everything in between, including anxiety, sadness and depression.

    When talking about emotions in animals, its a good idea not to anthropomorphize too muchafter all, many of emotions like depression are not exactly the same in cats as they are in people. Depression in cats is different from clinical depression in humans.

    Depression in cats is sometimes a sign that the cat is experiencing something stressful and as a result, displaying signs of depression. Some cats that are acting depressed might actually be sick rather than depressed.

    If you suspect your cat is depressed, its important to do everything you can to get to the root of the problem and try to help your cat feel better.

    Six Simple Ways To Treat Cat Depression

    How to tell if a Cat is Depressed

    Just like humans, cats can exhibit symptoms of depression. Signs of cat depression include changes in appetite, behavior, and activity level. Some depressed cats might act out by urinating or defecating outside their cat litter box, while others may exhibit physical symptoms including nausea and lethargy.

    Our pets experience the same gamut of emotions that we as people do, says Dr. Rachel Barrack of New York Citys Animal Acupuncture. And just like people, our cats are individuals. Each pet experiences and exhibits signs of depression differently, she said.

    If you suspect your cat is depressed, here are six simple steps you can take to alleviate their cat depression and help them get back to their old self.

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    What Changes In Sociability Or Energy Level Would Indicate That My Cat Might Be Sick

    Sick cats usually become withdrawn and may hide, although this does depend on the personality of the individual cat. Some cats become more clingy or demanding of attention, while others just become cranky.

    As a general rule, cats that are sick will have lower energy levels. The only thing you may notice is that your cat sleeps more, does not play as much, or is restless. With some diseases, especially hyperthyroidism, your cats energy level may actually seem to increase to the point of hyperactivity. Cats with hyperthyroidism often are restless at night and may suddenly begin howling or waking family members up.

    “As a general rule, cats that are sick will have lower energy levels.”

    Cats with arthritis or other joint problems may have difficulty moving around and may no longer jump up on furniture or counters, or may change the way they jump onto higher surfaces. If your cat suddenly is unable to use its back legs, she should be seen by your veterinarian immediately.

    Cats Get Depressed Because Theyre Not Getting Enough Interaction

    Some people think that cats are solitary beings who dont need or want a lot of human interaction. This isnt true at all. Although some cats enjoy more interaction than others, they all require attention and lack of said attention can lead to cat depression.

    If youve recently adopted a cat whos been neglected, be gentle with her, but bring out interactive toys like wands with dangly feathers to encourage her to play and interact. A single cat may also enjoy the company of another cat to help with boredom and encourage exercise and companionship.

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    Causes Of Cat Depression

    Depression in cats is often a temporary response to a change in their life. Some cats are quite sensitive, and they can experience mild depression over what seem to us like small things, such as moving their litter box or outfitting them with a new collar. Other examples of major changes that can trigger depression in cats are:

    • Moving to a new home or apartment
    • Arrival of a baby or adopted child
    • A new pet in the household
    • Construction in the home
    • Visitors staying at the house
    • Disruption in the family, like divorce or death
    • A traumatic event, such as getting hit by a car

    In some cases, such as a short-term visitor or home improvements, you may be able to wait out whatever is stressing out your cat. If the change is permanent, they may go back to their happier selves after some time to adjust.

    Dogs can suffer from depression too. Find out how you can help a depressed dog.

    Are There Any Other Symptoms That Are Abnormal

    It is not normal for a healthy cat to have any discharge from the nose, debris in the ears, excessive salivation, bad breath, or unusual odor from other parts of the body.

    Vomiting, particularly vomiting of clear foamy fluid or bile-tinged material, is cause for alarm.

    Gums, skin, or eyes that are pale may indicate anemia, while a yellow tint may indicate jaundice, and a bluish tint may indicate a lack of oxygen. Delaying treatment for these disorders, even by a few hours, can be fatal.

    “If you have any concerns or questions about your cats health, visit or call your veterinarians office.”

    Because signs of illness can be very subtle, if your cat does not seem right to you, err on the side of caution and to make an appointment for a veterinary examination as soon as possible. If you make it a habit to give your cat a general once-over on a regular basis, you will have an idea of what is normal and will be more likely to catch minor problems before they become major health issues. If your cat will not eat for more than 24 hours, or if you notice any breathing problems, straining in the litterbox, or abnormalities in eyes, seek immediate veterinary attention. If you have any concerns or questions about your cats health, visit or call your veterinarians office they are your best and most reliable resource to ensure your pets wellbeing and health.

    Contributors: Tammy Hunter, DVM Cheryl Yuill, DVM, MSc, CVH

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    Reasons Why A Cat Gets Depressed

    There can be several reasons why a cat gets depressed. Cats can grieve. They bond with human and non-human family members and can grieve when the dynamics of the relationship is lost. No matter the reason why, be sure to give it extra time and attention until its happiness level improves. If pain is the culprit, then take your cat to the veterinarian.

    What Changes Should I Look For In Appetite Or Thirst

    Since sick cats may eat less or eat more, or may have more or less thirst than usual, any change in appetite or thirst may be of concern. Cats with dental disease may seem to be picky about their food. Cats that have some metabolic diseases such as hyperthyroidism or diabetes mellitus may have a hearty appetite and increased thirst. Cats with liver or kidney problems often lose their appetite, but usually have increased thirst.

    “If your cat has not eaten properly for 24 hours, seek immediate veterinary attention.”

    If your cat has not eaten properly for 24 hours, seek immediate veterinary attention. Cats that have not eaten are prone to developing a condition called hepatic lipidosis or fatty liver disease , in which the cats appetite becomes completely suppressed for weeks. If fatty liver syndrome develops, your cat will require extensive medical management for several weeks to months before things get back to normal.

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    What Things Should I Look For

    Cats that are ill will usually show changes in overall appearance, energy level, sociability, coat appearance and/or amount of shedding, appetite, litterbox usage, breathing, or discharges from the eyes or nose. In general, any sudden change should alert you that your cat needs veterinary attention.

    How Do You Help Your Depressed Cat To Feel Better

    Q14 – I Think My Cat is Depressed, What Should I Do?

    Katherine Houpt, VMD, PhD, DACVB is an emeritus veterinary behaviorist at Cornell University. She emphasizes that you must be patient. Enrichment and attention are key to help your cat. Consider some of these ideas to help improve your cat’s mood:

    • Offer your cat special treats to entice her to eat
    • Try out some new interactive toys and games to stimulate her brain
    • Move a window seat to a new location so she gets a new view
    • Add on a catio to your home if you can

    The goal is to keep your cat active!

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    What Changes Would I See In Overall Appearance

    Cats that are not feeling well may just look a little off. The cat might sit in a hunched position, might not move as gracefully as before, might not lift its head properly, might have a head tilt, or might carry its tail in a different way than normal. Sometimes there is not any one thing that stands out, but instead a variety of subtle changes.

    Dehydration is a common problem in cats that are not well. To see if your cat is dehydrated, gently grasp her skin near her shoulder blades, pull it up and away from her body, then let go. The skin should snap back into place right away skin that does not snap back into place, but stays tented up usually indicates dehydration, a condition that needs to be treated right away.

    Cats that have some sort of chronic illness may develop slow and subtle weight loss that is only obvious when you actually run your hands along the ribs and spine. Cats that suddenly lose weight, particularly if they were previously overweight, are usually suffering from some sort of metabolic disease such as diabetes or hyperthyroidism.

    Are There Cat Therapists

    There are people who advertise themselves as cat therapists or psychologists. These folks may be well-meaning, but their titles dont indicate that they have the skills or training necessary to help your cat.

    Always consult your veterinarian first who can refer you to an expert such as a veterinarian with advanced training, certified as a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.

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    My Cat Seems Fine Could There Be A Problem

    Although cats are predators, in nature larger predators will prey upon them. Since sick or old animals make an easy target, any obvious sign of illness will alert other predators that the animal is ill. Therefore, cats have evolved to hide signs of illness and pain. This means that in the early stages of illness, often the only thing that a cat owner may notice is that the cat has become quiet and withdrawn. Unfortunately, this also means a cat may be very sick before the owner realizes something is wrong.

    Through training and experience, veterinarians may pick up subtle signs that a cat is developing a health problem, which is one of the main reasons why the American Veterinary Medical Association and other veterinary experts recommend twice yearly wellness examinations for the average adult cat. Delaying your cats veterinary visit until there are obvious signs of illness may mean that heroic measures will be required to treat the problem. With some understanding of how cats show symptoms of illness, you will be able to recognize early warning signs and know what information you need to provide your veterinarian.

    Spend More Time With Your Cat

    Daily activity and exercise, including play sessions with you, can go a long way to staving off depression in cats.

    Even though cats might seem solitary, they do need attention and company to thrive. If youre not home as often as you once were, or if your schedule has dramatically changed , you cat might be feeling lonely. Try to spend some more quality time with your cat, doing things he likes, whether its cuddling on the couch, playing with favorite toys or brushing his coat.

    Some cats might like the company of a friend, although be careful with this because some cats might become even more upset by the addition of a new cat or kitten. You know your cat best. If he is social and seems open to meeting other animals, consider adopting a new feline friend for company.

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    What You Can Expect

    Your veterinarian will likely run a full physical exam, note their medical history and the symptoms of depression that youve noticed. Depending on their illness signs, the vet may want to run some bloodwork, x-rays, or ultrasounds. It may take a while to reach a diagnosis, as the family vet will have to rule out wellness concerns through a process of elimination.

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