Do Cats experience Anxiety or Depression like their Humans do?
Have you ever noticed that your cat(s) are sad, in low spirits, or down right emotional at times? Meow!
I don’t know about you, but I’ve always wondered if animals experience highs and lows, emotionally speaking.
In case you didn't know, cats can feel anxiety, stress and sometimes depression!
These disorders not only affect people but also animals, and cats, although they are known to be independent and solitary, are actually quite sensitive and perceptive to the moods of their caregivers, and can even replicate them.
In this post, we explain a little more about stress, anxiety and depression in cats.
Anxiety in cats Although some of its manifestations can be confused with fear or phobias, anxiety has little to do with them; anxiety is a physiological alarm response.
When a cat detects danger in the environment, its body prepares to fight or escape from that threat. This physiological response is not bad; in fact, it is useful for survival.
However, when that anxiety becomes exaggerated compared to the "present danger,” when the cat is uneasy about the likelihood that it may appear again, that emotional reaction begins to undermine the physical and psychological health of the feline and becomes pathological. In short, the feline considers that something is not right in its environment; there is a threat, although there is no justification for it, and this state of alertness ends up damaging its organism, physically and mentally. Anxiety erodes all the cat's self-controls.
What causes anxiety in cats? The possible causes that can lead to a stressed cat are many and varied.
● Moving house ● The arrival of a new animal in the family ● The arrival of a baby ● A change of furniture ● Construction work at home or in a nearby building ● Almost no play or exercise because he/she spends many hours alone and without stimulation ● Drastic changes in routine ● Has experienced psychological and/or physical mistreatment in the past ● Prolonged loneliness ● Constant loud noises
Organic or physical symptoms of anxiety in cats
● Increased heart rate (tachycardia)
● Reduced activity level
● Dilated pupils
● Inability to use the litter tray
● Sweating of the footpads resulting in an unsteady and slippery gait.
● sores and lesions resulting from excessive grooming
Other related symptoms that cats may suffer from are loss or reduction of appetite leading to weight loss, excessive meowing, oversleeping and constant restlessness.
When it comes to separation anxiety, cats are usually fine as long as the owner is around, but once they are alone they begin to feel anxious and stressed.
How to help your cat if it is anxious or stressed?
The first thing to know is that scolding or punishing him for this behavior only makes it worse. The goal is to help him feel secure in his environment.
Next, schedule a visit with your veterinarian to diagnose or rule out underlying health problems or toxins that may be causing your kitty's stress, as cats tend to hide their pain so it may not be easy to tell if something is wrong. Once physical problems are ruled out the vet will be able to recommend specific treatments if the problem is psychological.
Likewise, the best treatment for anxiety in cats are massages, caresses, kind words and a routine of games and exercises 2 or 3 times a day to relieve anxiety. YES, CATS LOVE MASSAGES! (Just not my cat, as she may claw my face off while trying!)
Cats can suffer from depression, too.
Depression is a disorder that causes the sufferer to suffer an immense sadness, a strong dejection. And cats can suffer from this state of mind, that is to say, depression in cats is very possible.
It is difficult to know if your cat suffers from depression at a glance, for that you must analyze their behavior and look at what they stop doing. Things that are common in their behavior and in their daily routine.
● Alteration in their character, your cat may go from being calm to being fearful, aggressive and may even tend to be destructive.
● He will sleep more than usual.
● He will not be very active; his desire to play or do any other physical activity will decrease.
● He will become much more surly and apathetic and it is possible that he will stop doing what he likes the most, grooming, this will be the most evident symptom.
How to help a cat with depression?
You should not be overly alarmed, but you should understand that he would need a lot of patience and affection from you to recover his joy, his desire to play and his energy.
Play with him daily: set aside a moment twice a day for about half an hour, you can not only play with him but also caress him, give him a massage, etc. This will do him good and will improve the bond between the two of you.
If you cannot play, you can opt for interactive toys of skill and intelligence, with which the cat can entertain himself.
Provide a safe hiding place where he can be when he wants to be alone. It can be a box, the bottom of a closet or high places from where he can control what is happening in his environment.
Gradual changes: try to make the changes natural and gradual, so do not allow any change to affect your cat's routine in a drastic way.
Give him time: If he has just lost his companion (another pet) do not rush to look for a replacement, allow him to mourn and accompany him, otherwise he may reject it.
Access to the outdoors: a safe, outdoor space where your cat can bask in the sun and touch the earth will promote its well-being.
Anxiety, stress, and depression in cats is serious matter.
Untreated anxiety and depression in cats will not get better on its own, just like people, illnesses such as anxiety, depression and chronic stress can have a psychological effect on your kitty's health. This is why the main thing is to take your feline to the vet and once you have the right treatment you can put into practice the advice we have given you, knowing exactly what your cat is going through.