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Is Your Cat Depressed?

Is Your Cat Depressed?

Posted by Andrea on 5th Oct 2020

Is it even possible for cats to be depressed? The answer is overwhelmingly… YES! Here’s why: A cat can experience different degrees of stress. If the stress is acute, you will see the cat growl or hiss. The cat will crouch with ears back and pupils dilated. This is easy to see and usually easy to diagnose. However, if the stress is not acute, it can be low level but it can last undiagnosed for the long-term. This kind of stress can legitimately morph into feline depression.

Let’s see how we can identify and address chronic stress in cats. First, we must understand that some degree of stress is necessary for survival. When the cat feels threatened, the fight/flight/freeze response is triggered. Hormones are activated that prepare the cat to act as needed for short term survival. After the threat is handled, whether it was real or simply perceived as real by the cat, the feline physiological system returns to normal.

So, the problem really isn’t with this acute stress which is perfectly normal. Instead, it is with a lower level of chronic stress which is harder to spot and can contribute to medical problems, behavioral issues, and enduring depression

The problem is that lower levels of ongoing stress are easy to overlook. Indicators of long-term stress can include changes in activity levels, litter box usage, and appetite issues. There can also be physical indicators such as over- grooming. More signs of chronic stress can be alterations in sleep habits, changes in vocalization, increased aggression, and hiding.

Social factors that can cause ongoing stress are family changes, inconsistent schedules, poor litter box conditions, or punishment. Remember to never use punishment to discipline the cat. It will only frustrate Kitty and will not alter her behavior. Some of these causes and effects are so subtle they are easy to miss.

To deal with and minimize stress, we must try to think like a feline by trying to observe her environment from her perspective. You may discover certain triggers that you can tweak or reduce to help eliminate their effects on Kitty. The most important take-away is that chronic stress can affect her health and cause depression. As with humans, this can result in poor overall quality of life.

We certainly hope that your fur friend does not have these issues. But in case you are concerned, the following are some changes you can make that could help alleviate your cat’s stress:

Choose a vet who emphasizes low-stress handling and fear reduction. Have Kitty examined to rule out any medical reasons for ongoing stress.

Increase the fun times by participating in two interactive play sessions per day so she can activate and then release her hunting instincts.

Introduce any environmental or lifestyle changes as gradually as possible. Cats are actually obsessive/compulsive little creature of habit. They thrive on structure. They want the same activities at the same time in the same place every single day. Anything that upsets their routine is challenging.

Make sure you provide environmental enrichment with Kitty’s very own Armarkat cat tree. Cats crave elevation, so these self-entertaining structures allow them to climb, scratch, hide, and rest. If you haven’t made the single best investment for Kitty’s quality of life, go immediately to for cat trees of every size and shape imaginable.

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