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Depression In Cats
GENERAL RULE: If you think your cat is depressed, you’re probably right.
Many animals become depressed from time to time. As humans and their pets become closer to each other, either can experience separation anxiety and even depression. Humans, however, get to choose their destiny and understand the situation. Pets are often left wondering. Here are some of the symptoms:
- Excessive meowing
- Lethargy and/or a loss of appetite
- Anxiety/nervousness (often making trips to the door or window)
- Excessive grooming (particularly in cats)
- Self mutilation or destructive behavior
- Weight loss (or even a gain if anxiety triggers eating)
- Sulking or even aggression to other pets or people
- Sudden and unpredictable change in behavior
- Increased clinginess and attachment
If the aforementioned symptoms were exhibited in a human, one might deduce that they were in love or had just lost a loved one. Animal behavior is not that different, although its manifestations may differ.
- The best interactive toy for a cat is another cat.
- There are a number of interactive toys on the market (the ball encased in the plastic ring with openings for the cat to hit the ball is popular), but even paper bags or cardboard boxes can become a toy to a cat.
- Leave window shades pulled up enough for the cat to look out the windows towards a street or to see a bird feeder.
- Cat sitting services are becoming more commonplace in larger markets. Ask your vet or favorite pet store for referrals but thoroughly investigate before committing. You also might trust a neighbor or friend to “check in” and take care of your cat. (In most instances, however, strangers are at most “tolerated.”)
- Leave a radio on with a “talk station” tuned in. The human voice often is a welcomed sound for your pet.
Pet depression doesn’t come from leaving for an hour or two or even six. Repeated (school back in session) or extended periods of absence (vacations and business trips), however, can become a source for concern if not addressed. Most pets “shut down” (cats more than dogs) and sleep much more when their owners leave, but this may not reduce the potential for depression or anxiety. Owners should be pro-active in preparing for their absence from the house by purchasing interactive toys, making arrangements for pet sitting or sheltering and preparing the house for the aid and comfort of their pets.