Yes, cats can die from depression. The question “can cats die from depression?” is an extremely heavy one to process. In this blog we will learn how to identify if your cat is upset, sad or depressed as well as figure out ways to help the feline friend.
Human emotions such as joy, anger, sadness, fear and love are common between cats and humans, which makes it scarier to know that cats can actually suffer from depression. It sounds alarming, but let’s dissect this question with a little patience.
Can cats die from depression?
Yes, it is possible for cats to die from depression, however, it might not be in the way you think. Depression in itself isn’t a cause for death. However, there’s several stories surrounding people dying from broken hearts or unbearable pain. There’s also stories of how pets die not too long after their owner passes away.
There isn’t any concrete research behind the correlation of feline depression causing deaths. If depression manifests as Behavioural changes, such as not eating, sleeping, changes in their coat or physical health, it may definitely affect your cats physical health, which may in turn lead to death.
If you have a stressed cat it is important to make sure they get sustenance and isolate them in a comfortable area where they can receive attention from someone they trust.
Can cats actually have Depression?
It is important to note that feelings, the way humans understand it, are different from what our pets might feel. It is easy to identify when our pets are sad or aren’t feeling like themselves. In some situations, like the death of a companion, changing houses or families, will likely upset your cat.
It is difficult to know what goes on in their mind but it is often observable that cats are capable of feeling deep sadness and depression. This can be especially hard to identify, especially if your cat is an introverted and likes to keep to themselves. All cats have their own personalities.
Some might be playful and cheery while others might just like to stay in its corner. Cat behaviorists explain that depression occurs when a pet experiences events beyond their control. Let’s look at some signs to look out for if you think your cat is depressed.
Some cats may show absolutely no indication of depression once a companion is lost. They may go on about their daily business the same as before. You may even question if said cats are even aware of the loss. However, if a cat is truly troubled and in grief, the signs will be there for you to identify, so be attentive.
Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.
Signs and symptoms of depression in cats?
Our fluffy friends can’t exactly communicate verbally to us. Which makes it our responsibility to make sure they’re feeling okay. To find a difference, we must keep in mind their normal self and behaviour.
This makes it easier to identify changes versus what might just be their personality. A depressed cat may also relocate if you sit beside her, or flinch or swat when you try to show her affection and attention.
- Sleeping when they would usually be awake. If there have been changes in the timings, location of a favorite nap spot, or something else with sleep, this can also indicate sadness.
- Not eating normally. If you see any changes in your cats eating, eating less or extra, might all be a sign. Sad cats might not eat foods they previously enjoyed.
- Lack of grooming. Cats that are sad tend to forgo taking care of themselves and may lose interest in grooming and may leave themselves looking dull and unkempt.
- Loss of interest in playing with their toys. Cats who are feeling depressed will not be motivated to play or have fun with their family.
- Increased vocalizations or changes in vocalization. Cats might make more noises if they were usually quieter or make lesser noises if they were a vocal cat. Unhappy noises are usually low pitched moans or yowls. These are very audible indications that your cat may be unhappy.
These symptoms of depression also mimic a number of other health problems, so your first step should be a visit to the veterinarian to rule out any physical illness.
Causes of depression in cats
Examples of major changes that can trigger depression in cats are:
- Cats get very attached to their homes. They don’t like changes like rearranging the furniture or moving a litter box to a new location.
- Arrival of a baby or adopted child.
- A new pet in the household.
- Visitors staying at the house.
- Changes in the Family’s Work schedule.
- Illnesses can cause your cat to not feel well and even possibly be in pain. 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.
- Losing a family member is always tough for everyone involved and your cat is no exception. It is also not uncommon for cats to grieve when a feline or canine housemate leaves or dies.
How to help your fur ball!
There are some great ways to help your cat feel better and get them back to their normal selves! Some of these ways are outlined below:
- Professional help: Seeking professional help. It is a well known fact that cats are secretive and will hide their feelings. Physical illnesses must first be ruled out by a veterinarian, after which an expert on animal therapy or psychologist who works with animals may be consulted.
- Keep them cheery: It is crucial to keep your cat playing and busy. Boredom and loneliness are hard for us, let alone animals. Especially when one is in a bad mood, it’s helpful to stay supportive and keep their spirits up.
- Stick to a routine: Sticking to a routine will help your cat establish balance and certainty. It would also be helpful if the cat was well fed, this would make them feel more comfortable and relaxed.
- Introduce new toys and games: Adding new things may help the cat shift from one phase of life to another. It will help spark some excitement and help them feel better with new textures, sizes and colors of toys.
- Play Calming sounds: Your cat may enjoy the calming sound of classical music, there’s also specific videos on YouTube which are helpful for cats, searching up “Music for cats” would give you a plethora of options.
- Consider antidepressants: Speaking to a vet about medication that can help your cat is important. In a lot of cases, if other ways don’t help your cat, medication is proven to help mood and symptoms of depression.
- Adopting a new pet: In some cases, getting another animal in the family, especially when your cat has lost a long time furry companion, can be helpful. Of course, this has to be done after serious contemplation because we don’t “replace” the cat’s companion and add to their confusion. It’s best to take things slowly!
Cats are extremely sensitive and intuitive animals. They can sense conflict and feel immense grief for loss and changes in their life. It is crucial to keep an eye out for any changes from normalcy and health, especially if you know a major life change has taken place.
Besides identifying, helping the cat cope with their situational change is imperative. Providing unconditional love and care should foster a healthier environment for them to feel safe in.
Cheering up a sad cat can take time, determination, and creativity, but your effort will be rewarded when you finally see your cat begin to enjoy life again.
You are not helpless when it comes to your cat’s mental health. If she is suffering from a bout of anxiety and stress, then a little attention, understanding and love may be just what the doctor ordered.
What we recommend for depression
If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling could be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.