Cats aren’t always happy, in fact, some cats can be very depressed, while others might be feeling just a little bit sad. Nicky Trevorrow, Cats Protection Behaviour manager, says there are a few signs of depression in cats and it’s sensible to be on the look out for the symptoms in your cats at home.
Disinterested and Extra Lazy
One of the signs noticed in cats is their lack of interest in things that would once keep them happy for hours – such as watching birds or chasing insects and so on. No longer displaying their hunting behaviours is a good sign that your cat isn’t happy. You may also notice that your cat has started sleeping more than usual (yes, that is possible!).
Hiding from the Family
If your cat is no longer sociable with the family it could be because they are sad. Not all cats are sociable, but most will tolerate the family and even spend time sleeping close if not on laps. When cats withdraw from the family circle it’s a sign that they’re feeling unhappy and perhaps even anxious. If they begin avoiding spending time anywhere apart from a secluded hidey hole it’s time to address the problem.
Lack of Personal Care
When a cat stops grooming or perhaps stops sleeping so much there’s a strong chance that they’re depressed. Look out for matted fur or dirty coats.
Helping a Sad Cat
There are ways to help a sad kitty. Visit a vet before approaching a local pet behaviourist for a full diagnosis first of all. Many of the symptoms are also symptoms of other illnesses, so it’s wise to ensure nothing is physically wrong. If there are no underlying conditions you can try the following steps to help increase happiness in cats:
- New toys and activities for your cat to explore and use for additional exercise – especially important for indoor cats
- Increasing the amount of space your cat has. Indoor cats can feel very restricted, increase the space with the use of catios, a cat balcony or cat fencing if suitable for your home and garden
- Spend time working on the gentle bond you have with your cat, being quiet and using low voices, sitting still and designating a time when the home is at it’s quietest to spend time together.
- Provide lots of hiding places and quiet spots all around the home – cardboard boxes are great for this
- Don’t introduce a new pet, cats are happy to be on their own and introducing a new pet can increase stress and push your cat further away
- Work on ensuring your cat has a daily routine – they like structure
- Check to see if your cat is having difficulties with the neighbourhood cats – stressful relationships can and do happen on the streets