Depression in Cats: Accompanying Symptoms and Methods of Dealing with the Problem

Many people mistakenly believe that cats are emotionless creatures that never show an emotional bond or special attachment to their owner. Cats are characterized by a wide range of emotions, and along with fear and sadness, they also strongly express feelings of contentment and love.

Cats can experience sadness and depression for a variety of reasons. Illness, boredom, loss of a family member, or physical injury are the most common causes of cat depression. Often, cat owners do not notice that their companion animal is emotionally drained, avoids social settings, loses interest in play, or sleeps longer than usual. These symptoms are also characterized by depression with increasing age. Therefore, if we exclude the age factor, we should investigate the problem more deeply and identify its causes.

The Nutrimax team properly comprehends the scale of the concern, so we want to provide you with comprehensive information about the causes of depression, as well as the factors to be considered in the process of eliminating the problem and effective steps.

Signs of Depression in Cats

Determining a cat’s emotional state proves challenging due to their nuanced facial features, expressions, and intricate body language. Nonetheless, this should not be mistaken as a sign of lower emotional intelligence compared to dogs. It simply underscores the unique nature of feline communication.

In this section of the article, we provide valuable insights into recognizing signs of depression. By familiarizing yourself with these symptoms, you can promptly identify potential mental health issues in your cat and take appropriate action. Understanding your pet’s emotional well-being is essential for providing them with the care and support they need to thrive.

Vocal Change

When your cat’s usual characteristic vocalizations change in intensity, whether they communicate more or less than usual, it serves as a clear indicator that something may be amiss. Typically, this distressing vocal shift manifests with a low, mournful tone, making it relatively easy to identify.

Veterinarians often observe cats resorting to biting as a self-soothing mechanism during periods of distress. In cases of depression, typically vocal cats may prefer silence, yet intriguingly, depression can also provoke vocalization in naturally quieter felines.

In any scenario, it’s crucial to attentively heed your companion animal’s vocal cues, as they might be attempting to convey their emotional state and seek your understanding and support. 

Body Language

A cat’s body language often serves as a direct indicator of underlying physical issues, including eye, ear, or skin problems. Subtle cues such as ears pulled back, a tucked tail or raised fur around the muzzle are silent forms of communication that can shed light on your cat’s psycho-emotional state. 

These non-verbal signals provide essential insights into their well-being, enabling you to promptly identify potential sources of distress and seek appropriate care. Understanding and responding to your cat’s body language is a crucial aspect of responsible pet ownership, ensuring they receive the attention and treatment they require for a healthier, happier life.

Personality Disorder

Depression may cause a cat to lose interest in activities that previously brought happiness. At this time, cats become withdrawn and tend to hide. Cats, who are calm by nature, can develop a special attachment to their owner at this time. However, fear of strangers and uncontrolled aggression towards them are also common.

Increased Sleepiness

Cats are known for their extensive sleeping habits, but when a cat becomes sad or depressed, they tend to be even sleepier. A change in their preferred sleeping spot can signal emotional turmoil, especially if they opt for a secluded location, away from your presence. This shift in behavior may indicate an underlying emotional imbalance that warrants your attention and care.

A change in Appetite

A sudden change in appetite in cats is often associated with physical or emotional discomfort. Like humans, sadness in cats also significantly reduces appetite and is manifested in a loss of interest in favorite foods. At this time, cats may refuse even the food that they previously enjoyed the most. To deal with this problem, we recommend buying the highest quality balanced cat food. This change in routine diet may improve the cat’s behavior along with the return of appetite.

Neglect of Hygiene

Along with the progression of depression, the cat may begin to urinate in inappropriate places and create a comfortable environment by spreading its pheromone scent in the house. Urinating outside the special box can have many reasons, but stress, depression, and sadness are the most prominent among these reasons.

We know the attitude of cats to personal hygiene, however, during depression, cats’ interest in self-care decreases so much that it may even become a nuisance to you. Cats who are not feeling well or are depressed often stop grooming themselves and leave their fur unkempt. At this time, your support is essential. While dealing with a difficult emotional situation, pay proper attention to your companion animal’s hygiene and help keep it clean.

Internal Aggression and Destructive Behavior

Sad cats, as usual, are more reactive and try to get rid of accumulated emotions through aggressive actions. If your cat is bored, he may start scratching the furniture or breaking things with more intensity than usual. Such behavior is associated with territoriality and aims to relieve stress.

If you notice that the cat develops behavioral changes, becomes anxious, and starts showing aggression uncontrollably, be sure to consult a veterinarian. It will help you effectively eliminate the problem and your companion animal will face the anxiety with a proper course of treatment.

Reasons Why Depression Occurs in Cats

The development of depression in cats has several prerequisites. Detecting the main cause of the problem at an early stage will significantly reduce the risk of its aggravation and prevent future complications.


Chronic diseases and physical pain are some of the most common causes of depression. If along with mood changes, you notice nausea, loss of appetite, and discomfort related to movement, most likely, the cause of depression should be looked for in a health-related problem.

Fatty liver, diabetes, hypothyroidism, and upper respiratory and dental diseases, among other health problems, are often seen as causes of depression. In this case, visiting a veterinarian and starting the course of treatment on time is essential.


Physical injuries may limit a cat’s mobility and mobility skills. Trauma is often accompanied by pain. This makes the situation more difficult and negatively affects the quality of life of your little friend.

That’s why it’s a good idea to follow your veterinarian’s recommendations for pain relief after an injury or medical procedure. If you notice that the cat has sensations characteristic of pain, but you do not know why, be sure to make an appointment with the veterinarian and decide on the next steps based on the relevant examinations.

Losing a Loved One

Losing a family member is associated with a difficult emotional state. Like humans, cats perceive this sad event with special intensity, so grief can turn into depression over time. As a rule, depression caused by a loved one subsides after some time and the cat returns to its normal temperament.

If you are dealing with depression caused by the loss of a pet companion, it is advisable to temporarily refrain from bringing your new companion animal into your home. This can make your cat’s irritation worse.

Time is usually the best way to make significant changes in household dynamics. However, if you want to eliminate the problem immediately, you can use natural remedies such as pheromone sprays or nutritional supplements. Regarding this matter, to specify additional details, we recommend you talk to the veterinarian.


Like humans, cats are negatively affected by a lack of mental and physical activity. Inactivity may turn into boredom at first and then into depression. To combat this depression-inducing problem, we recommend that you carefully plan your cat’s daily routine and include exercises for mental stimulation along with physical activities.

How to Make a Depressed Cat Feel Happy?

If you want your cat to feel happy during depression, it’s important to spend time with him every day. Let him fall asleep on your lap, talk to him, and express positive feelings towards him. With this kind of attitude, you make your little friend feel that you love him and his presence by your side is especially important.

To improve the mood, it is also advisable to offer the cat a variety of toys. Most cats especially enjoy interacting with interactive toys. At this time, the brain of our companion animals begins to fill the body with the hormone of happiness, because cats are not only physically but also mentally focused on the toy.

Cats are more or less self-centered. Some of them are happier as the only pets in the family, however, some cats prefer to live and play with other companion animals. That’s why it’s a good idea to consider your cat’s temperament, age, health, and activity level before you decide to bring another pet into your home.

Final Thoughts

It is conventional knowledge that cats can skillfully hide their illness. However, their physical symptoms often say a lot about their health. A thorough veterinary examination and proper counseling are fundamental aspects of treating depression in cats.

If behavioral depression is diagnosed, the veterinarian may recommend antidepressant treatment. However, to achieve the best results in a short period, veterinarians often use behavior modification techniques along with medical treatment.