By Desiree Carlos
Most indoor or owned cats are always active. They move a lot and socialize a lot with humans. When your cat is suddenly quiet or stays in one place or is not her usual self, your cat may be sad and/or depressed.
“Many caretakers fail to recognize the signs of a depressed and sad cat. It’s essential for you to know the various causes of sadness in cats and the best ways to make them happy,” says WebMD Editorial Contributors in the article “Why Is My Cat Sad? “ which was reviewed by veterinarian Vanessa Farner.
“Cats are emotional and can get stressed or depressed. The most common signs of an unhappy cat are cowering, hissing, and fleeing. But sometimes your cat may not show obvious signs of stress. This is why as a pet owner you should have knowledge of how cats behave when they’re depressed,” adds WebMD.
Reasons a cat gets sad
There are many reasons for a cat to get sad. One important part of a cat’s life is his relationship with his furparent or owner. Thus, a change in his relationship with you can make him sad. Examples of changes that can make your cat sad are: change in your schedule at home, change of place, when you are busy with another pet or a baby, or when a human moves out of the family home, among others
“It is important to spend quality time with your cat to keep both of you happy,” says WebMD.
Here are other reasons your cat may become sad:
1. Loss of a loved one. Cats also grieve when a loved one dies. “Your cat may have developed a bond with your dog over time, for example. If your dog dies or leaves your home, you may notice the cat looking sad and depressed. This is a temporary behavior, and your cat will recover,” WebMD says.
2. Injury. Your cat will get sad if she can not do the things she used to enjoy doing after she got injured while walking or playing.
3. Illness. Your cat may be sick. “Some of the diseases and infections that can affect the mood of your cat include fatty liver disease, dental disease, upper respiratory disease, ringworm, and cancer,” WebMD says.
Signs of sadness in a cat
It may not be easy to detect sadness in cats. Check for the following possible signs of depression:
1. Low energy levels. Cats usually sleep a lot. A depressed cat sleeps more. If there is a sudden change in the sleeping pattern, it means your cat could be sad. “Unusually low energy is a red flag for unhappy cat behavior, suggesting a mental or physical problem, “ WebMD says.
2. Grooming changes. Sad cats usually stop grooming, leaving themselves unkempt and dirty.
3. Pain. One of the most underdiagnosed conditions in cats is pain, especially among seniors. Your cat needs help for this. Pain is one of the leading clinical signs of depression.
4. Changes in appetite. A change in eating behavior could be a sign of depression. Sad cats may suddenly stop eating their usual food.
5. Change in daily routine. A sudden change in behavior might be a sign the cat is experiencing stress. “Have they stopped using their litter box? Are they abandoning their usual sleeping spot? A sad cat may also lose interest in an activity that initially made them happy,” WebMD says.
6. Aggression. A sad cat suddenly becomes aggressive. Aggressive acts in cats include hissing, biting, chasing, and growling. If you notice such behavior, please bring your cat to the vet.
What to do
There are several ways you can help your cat to be happy:
1. Having playtime. Sad cats will be relieved of depression and aggression if you play with them.
2. Petting your cat. Cats love to interact with their humans. “A gentle hand on the back of the head and behind the jaw may stabilize a worried cat without restricting its movement,” says WebMD.
3. Using catnip. This helps to make cats happy. “Catnip is a plant in the mint family that contains a natural oil called nepetalactone that has a unique effect on cats. When cats rub on or chew catnip, it produces a mild natural high that is both harmless and temporary, but that is pleasurable to cats,” says WebMD.
4. Consulting an expert. “A board-certified animal behaviorist may be your best bet to cheer up your pet, as they have the knowledge and experience to treat depressed pets,” WebMD suggests.
5. When to call the vet. If your cat shows signs of chronic depression, stress, or illness, please bring your cat to the vet. “The vet may recommend medical intervention or just a change of routine,” WenMD says.
Signs of a sick cat include:
Loss of appetite
Change in sleep patterns
Crying or searching
A need for extra attention
A generally sad demeanor
Caring for Cats
An informed furparent can avoid stressors to keep their cats happy.“Cats are awesome animals to have. Before getting one for a pet, however, you need to know what they need and how to keep them happy,” says WebMD.
Cats’ needs. Unlike dogs, cats are low-maintenance and do not demand a lot when it comes to companionship, training, and exercising. “Cats tend to be more independent and can adjust well if you live a busy lifestyle. They can also be comfortable if you live in a small apartment or house,” says WebMD.
How to prevent your cat from getting sad. WebMD shares some ways to prevent this:
“Get your cat some toys. Toys will keep your cat busy and tired, thus getting rid of excess energy.
Keep cats in pairs. This will help with companionship and making playmates, thus reducing or preventing stress.
Let your cat “hunt.” Simulating hunting behaviors keeps cats mentally stimulated and active.
Walk your cat. Working out your cat will help get rid of their excess energy and stress. Ask for help from a professional animal trainer to help train your cat to walk on a leash.
Spay or neuter them. Spaying or neutering your cat can eliminate stress caused by the need to find a mate.”
Sad cats can spread their sorrow to others around them. Be aware of changes in your cat, and consult your vet if you notice anything different. Of course, always make them feel loved.
This article also appears in the Manila Standard
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