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Is Your Cat Sad? Signs and Causes of Cat Depression

Every pet has its own personality – especially cats! Some cats are free-spirited, some are outgoing, some are mischievous, but when your cat that’s all fun-loving suddenly becomes socially-distant, quiet, and aloof, this might raise some concerns: cat depression.

cat depression

" The noises your cat makes are vocal clues that they may be unhappy. A cat’s unhappy noise is usually low-pitched yowls or purrs that sound distressing. "

Most pet parents do not know the reason why their cats suddenly become sad and depressed. Today, we’ll help you identify the signs and causes of cat depression and learn the best action plan to make your cat’s nine lives back to being happy again.

Signs of Cat Depression

The sudden change of behavior and personality of your cat means a lot of things. Listed are the tell-tale signs your cat may be depressed.

  • Unhappy noises. The noises your cat makes are vocal clues that they may be unhappy. A cat’s unhappy noise is usually low-pitched yowls or purrs that sound distressing. Contrary to what most pet parents believe, a cat’s purr doesn’t always mean they are happy and loving it. As a matter of fact, The Spruce Pets state that depressed cats purr more often for comfort. In other cases of depressed cats, vocal cats suddenly become quiet, and usually silent cats get louder.
  • Body language. Cats communicate and give clues through their body language. Depressed cats may have held back ears, a tucked-in tail, and many other body positions that indicate they are not happy.
  • Inadequate grooming. Cats love to groom themselves every day, but poor grooming may indicate that your cat does not want to do so and does not feel well, resulting in a dry, coarse coat.
  • Too much sleep. While it is normal for cats to sleep a lot, depressed cats sleep more often and longer. A depressed cat may also opt not to nap on their favorite sleeping spot anymore.
  • Decreased to no appetite. Just like how we (pet parents) do not want to intake anything when we are extremely unhappy and depressed, cats do the same, too! Depressed cats may lose their appetite one the treats or food they love, may have little to no appetite, and may even not eat at all.
  • Sudden aggressiveness and fear of things. You may notice your cat suddenly becomes aggressive or develops a fear of certain things they were once okay with before.
  • Becomes clingy or reserved. A depressed cat may lose interest in the things they used to love and engage with. With depression, you may notice your fur-baby become super clingy, may develop sudden separation anxiety with you, or may suddenly become reserved and aloof.
  • Spraying. If your cat who litter-box trained or always find their way out to do their business suddenly begins spraying (and urinating!) in inappropriate places, that may be a depressed cat you have right there. Depressed cats may want to use their own smell to feel better and find comfort. When your cat does this, it’s best to have them wear quality cat diapers, like these from Pet Parents®, to still be able to keep both your house and your cat away from messy cleanups. Your cat can will be able to spray but you don’t have to worry about the accidents as the diapers are there to prevent them.
  • Behavioral changes. A depressed cat will go through a lot of changes in behavior. Your cat may not nap at their favorite spot, may not want to snuggle with you, may pee outside the litter box instead, and so many other things! This is why it’s better to be safe than sorry. Cats peeing outside the litterbox can be a lot of trouble. Protect your house and use Pet Parents® Pawtect® Washable Pads as a lining to your cat’s litter box in case your cat decides to pee outside the litterbox or catch any “misses”.

Why Your Cat is Depressed

Knowing why your cat is sad and depressed is the first step to be able to know how you can manage cat depression. As American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® states, depression in cats is often your cat’s response to certain changes in their life, even if it seems like small things.

As there can be many possibilities why your cat is depressed, here are some of the reasons why:

  • Stress and anxiety. Cats are routine-loving animals. They love sticking to plans and if these plans are disrupted, they easily become stressed out and may suffer from cat anxiety that later one develops into depression.
  • Underlying illness. Your cat may be depressed because they are in pain because of an illness. They may not play or move around like the way they used to. Conditions that cause pain in cats include upper respiratory diseases, fatty liver disease, hypothyroidism, dental problems, and many other pressing and life-threatening diseases. If you think your cat is depressed because they are sick and in pain, bring you fur-baby to the vet immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
  • Traumas and injuries. Trauma and injuries prohibit your cat to move freely and do the things they love to. Trauma and injuries cause intense discomfort, lingering pain, and may cause depression in cats.
  • Loss of a loved one. Losing a loved one is tough for almost all of us, including your cat. So when a member of the family (whether a human family member or a fellow pet) moves out or passes away, your cat may mourn and if not managed immediately and properly, may become depressed.
  • New family members. Opposite to what's stated above, your cat may also become depressed if there are new additions in the family - especially if your cat is so used to being the center of attention then suddenly a baby, a pet dog, or another pet cat comes into the picture.

Other possible causes of cat depression may include:

  • Stray cats in the area
  • Owner going out on a vacation or not going home for many weeks
  • Owner working from home and not having enough bonding time with pet cat as before
  • Family disturbance, such as constant fights, divorce, etc.
  • New owner (if the cat has been surrendered to the shelter and is newly adopted)

Ways to Manage Cat Depression

Restore your cat’s routine. Since cats love routines and certainties, make sure you are able to slowly reestablish their day-to-day cycle and the activities they are used to. Feed your cat on time, play with your cat on time, and do many other things on time.

Try to fill in your cat’s longing for somebody. A cat who has recently lost a loved one (either a human or a fellow pet) is confused and longing. Your fur-baby may also be feeling a surge of separation anxiety as to why something so close to them is suddenly gone. To help fill in this gap, make sure you make time for your cat and give them attention, snuggle with your cat more, and give your cat the attention they most especially need. This will help comfort and reassure your fur-baby that everything’s going to be okay.

Use cat diapers. A depressed and unhappy cat will be prone to cat spraying, resulting in you being unhappy, too. To be able to prevent your cat from spraying in inappropriate places, have them wear premium cat diapers like the ones from Pet Parents®.

How can Pet Parents® help?

Pet Parents® washable cat diapers are intended and manufactured to avert peeing and pooping accidents from turning into messy cleanups (and keeping you sane!). These diapers for cats are best for your depressed fur-baby who is constantly spraying and peeing on places they shouldn’t.

Made with soft non-abrasive WickQuick® proprietary fabric, these diapers for cats wick away liquid fast to prevent your fur-baby from developing diaper rash and urine burns. Pet Parents® washable cat diapers also have elastic tail-holes that are tailor-made for our bushy fur-babies, allowing stretch and comfiness on the tail area but not enough for leaks.

Additionally, Pet Parents® Pawtect® Washable Pads are your best choice as they can’t be shredded easily. They are reusable, and overall much more efficient and versatile than disposable pee pads. We know you hate the strong odor of the litter box caused by your cat’s urine not completely “hitting” the bullseye.

Pee pads placed under litter boxes are intended to catch any “misses” while its odor-eliminating property removes or lightens any unpleasant smell; becoming the ultimate lifesaver for when dealing with this issue.

cat depression

" Pet Parents® washable cat diapers also have elastic tail-holes that are tailor-made for our bushy fur-babies, allowing stretch and comfiness on the tail area but not enough for leaks. "

Cat depression is a real thing and must not be taken lightly. Our cats feel sad, too, and as pet parents, it is our responsibility to make them feel loved, healthier, and happier in all of their nine lives.

The Author:

Micka Virtudazo

Micka Virtudazo is a full-time content creator at Pet Parents who lives with thirteen adorable American Bullies and a Shih Tzu-Maltese mix named Gretel. She especially enjoys writing how-to articles as she feels through this she can connect to other pet parents on a more personal level.

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