Treating Feline Depression

"Changes in a cat's environment and health are common causes of feline depression. An ungroomed coat, loss of appetite and increased sleeping are signs that a cat could be depressed. If a trip to the vet rules out a medical condition, then a regimen of increased activity and attention possibly coupled with medication can be used to help the cat recover."

Causes of Cat Depression:

Cat depression is actually a form of stress or anxiety in a cat. A leading cause of  depression in cats is a fever. Depression can also be triggered by pain, the loss of a loved one or another animal companion. Furthermore, any sudden change in the cat's environment that he views as negative can cause (feline) depression as well.  

Signs and Symptoms: 

Cat depression symptoms include:

  • Ungroomed coat
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Increased sleeping
  • Refusal to play or a decrease in activity
  • Hiding from family members
  • Increase in verbal sounds or decrease in verbal sounds in an otherwise "talkative" cat
  • Drooling
  • Aggression towards other cats or animals in the home
  • Refusal to use the litter box (going in other places)

    Diagnosis of Depression in Cats: 

    Diagnosing cat depression consists of an examination by a veterinarian to rule out other medical conditions. Cats are masters of hiding mild illnesses and injuries, so when a cat shows visible signs of an issue, it is important to have them investigated. 

    Treatment of Cat Depression: 

    Multi-modal environmental modification (MEMO) can be used to get the cat interested in his environment again. MEMO consists of changing the cat's physical environment to lower his stress level. For example, if the cat has a sometimes contentious relationship with other animals in the home, try to keep the cat separated from other animals. Spend time with the cat doing things he usually enjoys such as grooming, playing with toys and chasing balls. If the cat's depression is severe, catnip can be used to help improve the feline's mood, or a veterinarian might prescribe an anti-depressant for a short period of time.

  • Fluoxetine hydrochloride, the primary ingredient in Prozac, can be administered to treat feline depression, though it should not be administered to cats with diabetes.
  • Tramadol can used to treat both the depression and any pain the cat may be experiencing
  • Increased exercise releases serotonin with can help to improve the cat's mood.
  • Homeopathic treatments such as flower essences and herbal treatments can be used to help improve the cats mood as well.  Epic Spray in particular can help to improve depression due to emotional distress, sadness or loneliness. 

    What You Can Do At Home: 

    Make the cat's environment as stress-free and pleasant as possible. If the cat is home alone on a frequent basis, open the blinds and curtains so he can watch what is going on outside. Also, consider adding an additional pet as a companion for the cat. You can also consider hiring a pet-sitter to spend time with the cat while you're away.


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