It’s not just humans that get down in the dumps. Like us, cats feel a whole host of complex emotions and whilst they may be more reserved than other pets, they are known to suffer from depression more than most.
What are the signs of depression?
One of the easiest signs to look for is whether or not your pet has gone off their food. They may eat less or lose their appetite altogether. If this persists you should seek the help of a vet.
Secondly, look out for changes in their behaviour towards you and other members of the family. A depressed cat is likely to avoid human contact and may even hide in obscure places to get away from the source of stress. Another common symptom of depression is increased sleep, although this is difficult to spot since the average feline already sleeps for up to 18 hours a day!
As cat owners will know, cats love to groom themselves as part of their daily routine and a lack of grooming can also be a sign of depression.
Why does it happen?
There are many reasons why your cat may be depressed but thankfully there are things that can be done to help.
The main cause of depression is change. Cats hate change as it causes stress in their daily routine. A common source of stress could be a new addition to the family, a new baby, dog or more likely, a new cat. Cats are not the most sociable of animals and generally prefer their own space, so think carefully about introducing a new member of the family, particularly if you have an elderly cat who is stuck in their ways!
Pets also experience bereavement, which can manifest itself in a similar way to humans. In this instance you should pay extra attention to your cat so that you can spot the signs and take action to take their mind off it.
What can you do?
Cats love to play and require stimulation to keep their minds active, which is why playing with your cat for at least 30 minutes a day is a great way to keep them occupied and avoid boredom.
Cats particularly love toys that replicate hunting instincts such as chasing, catching and pouncing so these Jolly Moggy plush toys and teasers would be perfect for your feline friend. Stretching their feet on a scratch post will relieve stress and keep their claws in check.
When you’re out and about you can’t always be with your loved one - keep the curtains or blinds open when you leave so they can see what’s going on outside. You could even go one step further and place a bird feeder in front of the window and out of harm’s way, providing hours or entertainment and stimulation.
The important thing to remember is that unlike us, pets can’t talk to someone about how they’re feeling. They rely on us to give them lots of love and attention, so be sure to pay them extra attention and give them lots of love, not just in January but also all year round!