Despite this moment of the year (middle of winter, when days are getting longer and nights are getting shorter), implies a peak of activity in cats, specially non neutered ones, some of them look like they don’t realize, and for various reasons, they might suffer from depression, which is not an exclusive matter of humans or dogs, because, the fact that a cat is an independent, going-its-own-way being, is not as real as it looks like. But it’s true that indoor cats don’t like changes, and a sudden change of their daily routine, such as moving to a new home (one of the most common causes. Some cats in this situation may decide to run away and return to the previous home), new diet, a new animal at home (a cat or any other species), a new baby, or just men at work next door, could be enough for starting the process.
First of all – which are the tell-tale symptoms of feline depression? Unsurprisingly, very similar to the ones in humans; constant sleeping, apathy, significant changes in appetite, difficulties to maintain their hygiene, which may imply poor self-cleaning and problems when using the litter tray, becoming destructive and/or aggressive, non-stop vocalizations, long periods of self-isolation, etc. Of course, not all these signs might manifest themselves, and this is not a comprehensive checklist: depression may look different in every individual. Some of them may even develop bladder infections and kidney damage just because they are not feeling psychologically well.
If you suspect your cat may be struggling with depression, the first step is to book an appointment with your Vet in order to confirm the diagnosis, because some of these signs are not exclusive of depression and they may indicate tens of other pathologies, and, if necessary, to start a treatment, which may consist of:
Smooth caresses and massages for relaxation.
At least 30 minutes a day for games. The ideal ones for cats are those ones which simulate catching a prey, such as false stuffed mice, or chasing a laser pointer. Another valid one would be the ones in which the cat has to find hidden food by using its intelligence.
Direct sunlight and enjoying the nature (you can use a harness or a special backpack for carrying cats).
In case the cause of the depression is having lost a human or animal friend, it could be a good idea to provide a new one, in some cases.
Of course, if apart from the psychological symptoms there are urinary tract problems, they must be treated apart, but it’s very important to find out if they are caused by depression, because, if that is the case and we just treat bladder and kidneys, the treatment won’t work at all.
However, you as the owner, play a key role in your cat’s welfare. Apart from the Vet’s recommended patterns, you will be encouraged to pay special attention to your pet, making sure it gets enough sunlight, entertainment and those nice caresses at its belly from you.
Depression is a gruelling thing to deal without any help, no matter if you are a human or an animal. Oftentimes the solution lays within the support our loved ones provide us, and understanding it’s not a shameful thing nor a sign of weakness to ask for help.
Nathanael Reina Aldeguer & Sergio Reina Esteban
GRAN ALACANT EXOTICS
Calle Holanda 9, MASA Square I T: 966 698 569