Depression in Cats: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment Options

Depression in humans has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. A 2017 study by the National Institute of Mental Health found that an estimated 17.3 million adults has had at least one major depressive episode, characterized by a loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities, as well as problems with sleeping, eating, energy, concentration and self-worth. I expect that more recent statistics will probably show even higher numbers, especially considering the mental health challenges wrought by the pandemic.

When it comes to depression in cats, however, the picture isn’t as clear. A diagnosis of depressed humans is primarily based on self-reported symptoms, but the disease is much harder to assess in cats.

In a recent article for Animal Wellness Magazine, I explored the causes, symptoms and treatment options for feline depression.

Click here to read the article.

5 Comments on Depression in Cats: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment Options

  1. Cheri Collins
    January 18, 2021 at 11:30 pm (2 months ago)

    The feline love of my life started life feral and became an outdoor/indoor cat when he decided sleeping indoors was nice sometimes. He was the only cat in his outdoor territory for awhile. As other cats came out, he made friends and had playmates OR established himself as the alpha cat of his territory. A new neighbor brought along 2 cats he allowed out without supervising at first to see how it would go. One was fine with the other cats — my take was that he’s been bullied into submission / passivity. The second cat was a large, heavy male who wanted to be the alpha cat in the territory and attacked the other cats. My Boo couldn’t go out with getting attacked. He became depressed. I could see it in his affect and behavior. I started giving him catnip every day. His mood improved. Of course he wasn’t entirely happy again until the bully cat left. But the catnip did help.

    Reply
  2. Lynnette
    January 18, 2021 at 8:40 pm (2 months ago)

    Ingrid, this article couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I have noticed that one of my cats has seemed “off” for awhile and I wondered if he might be depressed. He is an older gentleman and I now wonder if he might have pain associated with age related changes. I’m going to call my vet tomorrow and make an appointment to have him checked out. I’m also going to hang up some bird feeders near some of my windows and see if that helps. On behalf of Pipo and myself, thank you!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      January 19, 2021 at 5:01 am (2 months ago)

      I’m glad the article helped, Lynnette. I hope there’s an easy fix to return Pipo to his usual, happy self!

      Reply
  3. Timmy Tomcat
    January 18, 2021 at 10:26 am (2 months ago)

    Cats get depressed just like we humans. We have had a few short term periods we are pretty sure were depression over the stressors listed but luckily we got through them. Glad to see this written by Ingrid.

    Reply
  4. Janine
    January 18, 2021 at 6:34 am (2 months ago)

    I remember when my husband’s grandmother passed away and how her cat was grieving. She just refused to eat and would hide. The vet tried tube feeding her, but her depression didn’t change. She ended up dying a few weeks later. It was so sad to see her like that.

    Reply

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