10 Common Causes & 10 Signs of Depression in Cats

Signs of Depression in Cats

Signs of depression in cats and causes of depression in cats have been asked a lot by cat owners and in this article, we will discuss the common causes and signs of depression in cats.

Some cats can develop depression unnecessarily, though it can’t be diagnosed without a professional diagnosis.

You may see depression in a cat that is less interested in its normal routine, spends less time around you, or is aggressive.

If you see any of these signs, you should check your cat’s medical history.

Cats can suffer from depression – when they stop playing or engaging in other everyday behaviors.

It’s a little-known condition that may affect around 1.4 million cats each year.

Even a cat that is confined to a small space might get depressed if it never gets a chance to get outside.

When they are diagnosed with depression by an experienced veterinarian, it could have been caused by unexpected stress like an injury or death in the family.

Cats suffering from depression can have issues with eating, sleeping, grooming, using the litter box, and walking.

Common Signs Of Depression In Cats

Here are the common signs of depression in cats you should always keep tabs on these signs;

Threatening Behavior

One common sign of depression in cats is the cat becoming aggressive.

If your cat suddenly starts growling or showing signs of aggression, this could be a sign of depression.

Most of the time, this behavior will go away if your cat starts feeling better, or it is a temporary depression that will go away.

Decreased Appetite

In some cases, a cat can develop depression due to a change in diet.

Your cat may be eating less because of depression, or your cat may not eat as much as it normally does.

In any case, it is always a good idea to check your cat’s diet with your vet.

A cat can get depressed and most of the time a clear sign is a decrease in appetite.

Decreased Activity Level

Some cats experience depression due to physical problems.

If your cat is inactive, the cat may be physically or mentally unable to do normal activities such as running or jumping.

This may mean that your cat has lost the use of his legs, is ill, or that your cat may be depressed.

A depressed cat will refuse to take part in a normal daily routine or activities, you should always look out for your cat’s activity level.

Disturbed Sleep

In some cases, cats develop depression because of emotional or psychological problems.

If your cat is exhibiting abnormal behavior, this may be a sign of depression.

Some of the signs of depression in cats are decreased activity, depression in an older cat, aggression, and difficulty sleeping.

Excessive scratching

When your cat starts scratching furniture or its scratch post more frequently than usual, it’s a good sign of depression in cats.

Pay attention to how often your cat uses the scratch post so that you can always notice changes.

If your cat is sad or depressed, it may scratch objects more than normal in order to relieve stress and mark its territory.

Attempting To Escape

A depressed can will always move away from its territory if the cause of the depression is in its territory.

A depressed cat is never relaxed, and will always want to escape from what is causing the depression.

So, if your cat is always attempting to escape at every little opportunity, you should try to figure out what is making the cat uncomfortable.

Giving away possessions

A depressed cat sees everything to be so annoying and would want to destroy or put away everything around.

Frequent chewing of toys is a good way to understand your cat is depressed.

A decrease in association with other animals

A depressed cat always wants to be alone and would not want the company of other pets.

Some depressed cats try as much as they can to avoid other animals as well as their owners.

So always look out for when your cat starts to avoid humans or other animals.

Uneasiness And Restlessness

A depressed cat is generally restless and uneasiness is a clear picture that your cat is depressed.

A depressed cat will not want to have eye contact with other animals even its owners too.

Rejecting food

Messing around with food even when they’re hungry is a clear picture of your cat being depressed.

Pushing food away and eating very little of the food is a sign of depression, and you should see your vet.

When a cat unnecessarily starts to reject his meal, it’s a sign of either depression, stress, or illness.

Causes Of Depression In Cats

Here are the common causes of depression in cats you should know;


Stress is a major cause of depression in cats, and if not properly treated or controlled it can lead to cats running away from home.

There are many ways a cat can get stressed out, but the common way is loud sounds and changes in routine or diet.


The cat is constantly searching for what is comfortable and correct in its surroundings, or feeling anxious when its natural habitat has changed.

Its little heart starts to beat faster and the cat gets extremely sleepy.

Arrival of a new pet

This is a major reason why cats are depressed, and it takes cats longer to recover from such depression.

There are simple ways to introduce a cat to a new home or pet, which is totally fine and safe.


If your cat seems to be in pain, schedule an appointment to have it checked out. Injuries may limit your cat’s ability to do things it once enjoyed.

Pain after an injury can also keep your cat from feeling as happy as it usually is.


Especially during spring, the cat can feel extremely uncomfortable when suffering from allergies to pollen or dust.

Food allergies can also cause depression in cats.

Fluctuations in routine

A cat that is not used to change in its routine ends up suffering from depression when it is faced with a sudden change in its routine.

If you keep changing your cat routine your cat can end up becoming depressed.

Fear of falling

Let’s say your cat fell from somewhere where the cat was at kittens stage, and now in the adult stage, the cat can still remember that event, this can cause depression.

Cats are afraid of falling off objects such as stairs, but this fear can be associated with depression in some cases.

Sad cats are more reactive, and they may act aggressively or fearfully.

If you see changes in your cat’s behavior that make them fearful or aggressive, they may be sad.

Eating Syndrome

This is where the cat forgets its proper diet and ends up excessively eating or drinking all kinds of products that have no nutritional value.

This can lead to multiple health problems and additional weight. Changes in meals can also cause depression in cats.


One of the main causes of depression in cats is toothache.

The cat suffers for a while before the tooth stops grinding and grows out. The cat then forgets all about his depression.


A cat can be depressed because the cat is very ill or the cat is in deep pain.

Your cat may not be its playful self if it hurts to move around.

The cat might feel nauseated, not want to eat, have a hormonal imbalance, or have no energy due to the illness.

Coaxing the Cat Out Of Depression

The best thing to do when the cat has depression is to pick it up gently from the ground or by the tail.

Pick it up by the tail because the cat will start purring very fast.

The cat may start to jump around a lot and slowly let the tail slide through its claws.

It will gradually turn around while looking at you and start grooming itself slowly.

Become more positive

Cats love to be loved. They will run away into the most remote corner of the house to hide if they are not being petted by humans.

This is where you need to take the cat to a vet to get it diagnosed.

Talk to your cat  

After a while of being depressed, the cat starts talking to you.

Talking back to your cat is the best thing to do when you see your cat depressed.

Talk to your cat in a positive manner and praise it a lot. The cat will not feel depressed anymore.

Giving treats

This is one of the best ways to make the cat feel happy and stop the depression. Treat the cat very generously and it will become very happy once again.

Give Your Cat Space

Most of the time you need to give your cat some space and time to recover from depression.

During this time you need to put away everything or activities that are causing your cat depression.

A Case Study of Depression in Cats

According to a new study, published in The Veterinary Record, the number of cats diagnosed with depression was around three times higher than previously thought.

However, while depression is known to be more common in cats than dogs, it is similar to some human psychiatric conditions.

It is much more difficult to diagnose in pets as there aren’t specific laboratory tests.

The study analyzed data from 27 earlier studies and found depression was present in 26.7% of the cats, while 17% showed signs of anxiety and/or depression.

There are no specific tests for animal depression, so we needed to develop a new method that could both identify the condition and give an indication of whether it was acting up.

Professor Andrea Oldham, who led the study from the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute and the Royal Veterinary College, said!!!

“We developed a new system called the PET Light-based Retinal Cycling software, which allows us to detect the distinctive cycle of light and dark seen in the retina of the eye, which is affected by depression in cats.

“We are delighted that the research has led to the development of a tool that can help with the early detection of depression, which could help to improve the lives of millions of pets.”

During the study, the researchers determined that, like people, cats experience periods of depressed mood, but also experience periods of elevated anxiety.

Read more interesting topics:

Signs of Anxiety in Cats

Many cats will exhibit some of the signs of anxiety. Anxiety can cause the cat to be nervous, hesitant, or afraid.

Signs of anxiety in cats may include:

  • A cat losing its head when it is walking.
  • Trembling when walking and licking itself.
  • Biting or turning around when you come into their space or territory.
  • Breathing loudly when their owners are around.

These symptoms may be accompanied by a nervous or anxious look.

Anxiety can be caused by stress, fear, or excitement.

You should always consult your veterinarian when you see any signs of anxiety in a cat.

How to Help a Cat with Anxiety

You can help your cat overcome anxiety by treating your cat with training. When your cat is anxious, give him lots of time to learn that you are in his space.

Many cats prefer to be near you, so treat your cat with positive attention and encourage him to look toward you or speak to you.

Help your cat to relax by rewarding your cat with attention or treats. You can teach your cat by rewarding him for looking at you.

By providing your cat with time to feel secure, your cat will get accustomed to you being around.

If your cat is very anxious, you should try to give him lots of time to get used to you.

Try to ease the anxiety by letting him choose where he feels comfortable and not forcing him to come to you.

If you are unsure if your cat can feel or if he is anxious, you should take your cat to the vet to have him examined.

If your cat has a specific problem that you are concerned about, your vet may be able to help you determine how to best help your cat.

Read more: Diabetes In Cats: Symptoms, Care, Causes & Treatments.

Treating Anxiety In Cats

There are many techniques that you can use to help your cat overcome anxiety. You can use medication to help your cat calm down.

Anxiety medications include benzodiazepines and sedatives, or antianxiety medications such as Valium, Xanax, or Ativan.

You should always discuss your cat’s behavior with the vet before starting the medication.

Keep in mind that your cat may need to start medication for anxiety for a period of time before you see any benefits. It may take weeks or even months before your cat starts to relax.

Some medication may need to be given to your cat for several days in a row. If your cat becomes anxious when you leave for the day, the medication may help him stay calm.

Some medications, such as tranquilizers, may not work for your cat if he’s become anxious, but they may still be beneficial for other animals.

When treating anxiety, it’s important to make sure that your cat is receiving the medication for long periods of time.

Medication can have side effects. Some medications for anxiety may cause your cat to become more aggressive or have difficulty breathing.

When your cat becomes anxious, stop the medication for your cat. Keep in mind that your cat may need to be in your care for several days before you see any benefits from medication.

It’s important to take care of yourself while you treat your cat with medication. You should try to find someone to give your cat the medication if you are unable to do so.

This may help your cat get used to you giving him the medication and help you to reduce your stress.

It can also help to alleviate the anxiety in your own life. You can consult your veterinarian if you are having a hard time dealing with anxiety.

If you are concerned that your medication will harm your cat, you should consult your veterinarian before you start taking your cat’s medication.

You should also visit your veterinarian for a checkup before you start any medications for your cat.

This is important so that you can determine if your cat needs to be on any medication for anxiety.

Recommended article: 11 reasons outdoor cats go missing for a week.

Final Word on Signs of Depression in Cats

If you’re seeing signs of anxiety in your cat, take your cat to your veterinarian for a complete exam and discuss any other symptoms you are seeing in your cat.

The information you read in this article can help you understand how to help your cat overcome anxiety.

Consult your veterinarian for advice on any concerns you have about your cat.

Most of the information discussed in this article can be useful, if used correctly, for treating anxiety.

But you should always discuss your cat’s behavior with the vet before starting the medication.

In most cases, medication for anxiety will help your cat feel better.

Signs of Depression in Cats summary

  • Appetite loss and aversion to sweets
    They are sleeping while they should be awake.
  • Grooming is lacking. You may notice a dull, dry, or tangled coat as a result of this.
  • Withdrawal from physical interactions like head bumps and lap hugs
  • Stomach aches and pains that come and go
  • Changed behaviors, such as not greeting you
  • Favorite toys are losing their appeal.
  • Weight increase or decrease.