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Symptoms Of Cat Depression Include But Are Not Limited To:
Just because your cat exhibits any one or more of these symptoms doesnt automatically mean hes in the throes of depression. He could be presenting with physical or behavioral signals that point to other illnesses, so its important to visit your vet and rule those out before considering cat depression.
Cat consultant Ingrid King advises, To treat feline depression, physical symptoms need to be addressed first, especially inappetence. A cat who doesnt eat for 24 to 48 hours is at risk for developing hepatic lipidosis, a life-threatening condition.
Here are common reasons for cat depression and some possible solutions for responding to them.
Service Cats: Giving Emotional Support To Pet Parents
You’ve likely seen service dogs out and about assisting their pet parents, whether as guide dogs, diabetic or epileptic alert dogs, or emotional support dogs. But what about service cats? Cats are increasingly being sought out to help people in need as well.
Emotional support cats and therapy cats provide comfort to their pet parents and others in need of emotional and mental health support. Cats can provide a gentle and calming presence to people struggling with anything from loneliness or stress to depression, chronic anxiety or PTSD.
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Moving To A New House
A change from the current living environment to something new can be stressful to both pet and pet guardian.
Aside from the stress of the move itself, moving from a large house to a smaller house or apartment would cut down the amount of space a cat has to explore and may restrict their level of activity, leading to depression.
In addition, when a cat that is used to having access to the outdoors moves to an apartment where they cant go outside, they can become depressed.
When To See A Vet
Many of the symptoms we have mentioned can signal serious health issues in your cat. Take your kitty for a visit to an animal professional to rule out any threatening and even chronic illnesses. If no household changes have occurred and your cats depression isnt from the environment, then something else is causing the symptoms of depression.
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Support Recovery From Mental Illness
There are several pieces of evidence that show that pets are helpful to people with mental health conditions, including PTSD and depression. Pets, including cats, help their owners manage their emotions and distract them from mental illness symptoms.
In addition to this, cats make their owners feel needed. Having someone to care for gives pet owners a sense of purpose, and this can help relieve mild depression symptoms. The acts of caretaking can positively affect mental health.
Signs Of Emotional Trauma In Cats And Dogs
Like humans, traumatized cats and dogs can develop fear and anxiety disorders, says Dr. Kelly Ballantyne, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist at the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Dogs and cats may attempt to escape or flee situations where frightened, they may become aggressive when interacted with or if forced out of a hiding spot, may freeze or show avoidance behaviors such as hiding or becoming still, and fidget by pacing, jumping up, or repeatedly pawing at their owners.
Trauma can also manifest as shaking, hiding, urination and/or defecation when the trigger attempts to interact, howling, pacing, excessive vocalization, and panting, says Pia Silvani, director of behavioral rehabilitation at the ASPCAs Behavioral Rehabilitation Center.
If you are wondering if your pet need to go to counseling to explore past issues, the answer is no. Dr. Sarah Wooten, a veterinarian based in Colorado, says the type of trauma experienced isnt as critical as what the pet learns from the experience.
These behaviors dont always result from emotional trauma, however, says Dr. Liz Stelow, chief of service of Clinical Animal Behavior Service at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at University of California, Davis.
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How Pets Can Help Combat Ptsd
Transitioning back to civilian life can be a complicated process for a veteran. He or she is, of course, happy to return home and no longer be in active danger, but many find it difficult to talk to friends and family about the things they have seen or done. Some may find that the life they knew seems to have moved on without them, leaving them lonely and wondering about their next step. Others find it hard to release the hyper-awareness they were required to develop during combat for survival.
Whatever the reason, many veterans struggle with deep depression, anxiety, and PTSD, leading to the tragic statistic that a veteran commits suicide every 65 minutes. Thankfully, researchers are beginning to find good statistic support for the idea that a pet can help veterans struggling with PTSD. Along with increased serotonin levels in veterans after interacting with service pets, pets offer many helpful benefits to their veteran owners.
Having a pet for a veteran is truly be more than just a luxury it might be a lifeline to help him or her transition back into civilian life and combat the hidden but dangerous emotional struggles so many experience. With love and affection, a pet can offer a veteran almost as much care as it receives.
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Help Build Health Habits
The act of caregiving helps us build healthy habits. Cats need to be fed and taken care of on a regular schedule. Thus, help cat owners create a routine to take care of them no matter their mood. They give people a reason to get up and take care of them and, in extension, take care of themselves. Caring for your pets can serve as a reminder to care for yourself too.
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Anxiety In Cats Can Have Similar Characteristics But There Are Some Differences
The signs, causes and suggested treatments for anxiety in a cat are similar to that of a cat with depression. However, there are a few differences to note. Some signs of anxiety rather than depression in cat include going outside the litterbox, excessive grooming and other cat behaviours done excessively and and excessive meowing.
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Signs Of Cat Depression
Like people, cats can get depressed, but theres a lot you can do to help.
Now that you know cats can be depressed, you might be asking, How do I know if my cat is depressed?
Symptoms of depression in cats may include one or more of the following:
- Loss of appetite
- Having accidents outside the litter box
- Changed sleep patterns
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Great Companionship Reduced Loneliness
Cats can be very affectionate pets, and they can reduce the feelings of loneliness by fulfilling your need for companionship. According to an Austrian study, having a cat is almost equivalent to having a romantic partner.
They initiate contact and engage in eye contact with their owners this creates a kind of connection similar to human interactions. Having a pet that makes contact, relies on you can help people with feelings of loneliness feel better and provide a purpose.
Ask Yourself: Is My Cat Depressed
Have a think about your cats circumstances and the chances of them developing depression.
One of the many things we love about cats is their independent spirit. Cats choose who they love and receiving their affection is a great honor. This is an example of how cats like to be in control.
Cat behaviorists explain that depression occurs when a pet experiences events beyond their control. This might be moving home, the loss of a companion, or an owner returning to work.
Any stressful event that affects the cat can trigger the blues, including:
- Arrival of a new pet
- Loss of an owner
- Owner going on vacation
- Building work in the home
Any stress may trigger depression, which also includes a cat not being able to do catty things. A cat unable to climb, hunt, play, or claw can become frustrated and depressed.
Do a quick risk assessment on your cat. Has their life changed recently in an unsettling way?
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How Having A Cat Can Help Reduce Anxiety And Depression
Having anxiety and depression can make life more difficult for individuals, but thankfully there are plenty of tips to help reduce the effects. One of those that seem to help a lot of people is welcoming a pet into their life, more specifically a cat.
There are so many benefits to owning a cat, from providing company when lonely to helping reduce stress by having them sit on your lap. Scientists and researchers have conducted a number of studies over the years to prove the health benefits of owning cats and some of them are quite surprising.
- Offering companionship
One of the things that people with depression often say is that there are times where they feel lonely and pets are one of the things that can help break the cycle.
Desiree Wiercyski is a life coach from Fort Wayne, IN, and she says, A pet can remind you that youre not alone. Pets offer unconditional love, which can be extraordinarily soothing when feeling isolated.
Compared to dogs, cats are more relaxed about their lifestyle and are happy to stay curled up on the sofa with you and they are so easy to be around. At the same time, they also enjoy a little play time every now and then, which will help to get a persons energy levels up and stop them from feeling stuck in a rut.
Ever noticed how your cat seems to know when you are distressed or not feeling well? It is this bond that allows them to pick up on subtle signs and know when they need to make you feel better.
- Becoming more active
- Making you healthier
Signs Of Depression In Cats
The one word that best sums up the signs of cat depression is withdrawal.
A depressed cat withdraws and ceases doing things they used to enjoy. Thus, if your feline stops doing something that usually makes them purr, you may have a sad cat on your hands.
Be alert for signs such as:
- Loss of appetite and disinterest in treats
- Sleeping when they would usually be awake
- Lack of grooming. You may notice this as a dull, dry, or knotted coat
- Withdrawal from tactile exchanges such as head bumping or lap cuddles
- Intermittent tummy upsets
- Altered habits such as not coming to greet you
- Loss of interest in favorite toys
- Weight loss or gain
These signs are general hence check that your cat is not ill before assuming theyre depressed.
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How Therapy Cats Work
Therapy cats are not typically used to help with specific tasks like service dogs or horses. Instead, therapy cats provide emotional comfort to those who need it. For example, if an elderly person in a nursing home is feeling lonely, a therapy cat can be a great companion. Alternatively, if a child has recently lost one of their parents, therapy cats can be essential for dealing with emotional trauma.
Humans develop special bonds with animals, and cats are no exception. Sessions with therapy cats use this bond to heal and alleviate pain, loneliness, or anxiety. It can be incredibly soothing to hold and pet a cat, to feel it purr and enjoy your touch. In essence, this is what therapy cats are trained to do they are trained to love and be loved in return.
Therapy cats are particularly effective with patients fighting depression and anxiety disorders. These issues are often associated with feelings of loneliness, hopelessness, social anxiety, and fear. These symptoms can make it very difficult for someone to connect with other people, or even get out of bed in the morning. A therapy cat works to alleviate these symptoms and offer a stress-free emotional connection.
How Can A Pet Help My Mental Health
Caring for a pet can help our mental health in many ways, including:
- increasing your physical activity. Dog owners are likely to take their pet out every day for a walk or run. This can be a fun way to fit exercise into your routine
- providing companionship. Pets can give you a sense of security and someone to share the day with. Caring for them can help you feel wanted and needed. This can be especially valuable for older people or those who live alone
- reducing anxiety. The companionship of a pet can help to ease your anxiety
- boosting self-confidence. Pets can be great listeners, offer unconditional love and wont criticise you. This can help your self-confidence, especially if you feel isolated or misunderstood
- helping you meet new people. Dog owners often stop and chat to each other on walks. But other pets can be a way to meet people too: in pet shops, training classes or online groups, for example
- adding structure to your day. Having to feed, exercise and care for a pet can help you keep to a daily routine, which can help you feel more grounded and focused. It can give your day purpose and a sense of achievement.
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Causes Of Feline Depression
Cats can become depressed when they are feeling upset, anxious or fearful about something in their environment, such as major changes in the household, an addition of a baby, adopting new pets or workers in the home.
Almost anything could cause depression in cats, but some of the most common causes of a sad cat include:
- Health problems
- Bored or understimulated
- Change in schedule/owner not home as much
- Ways to Help Cats with Depression
If your cat is acting down in the dumps, the very first thing to do is to bring him to the vet for a complete physical examination. If your cat gets a clean bill of health from the vet, its time to think about other reasons your cat might be experiencing stress, and as a result, signs of depression.
Some stressful things, like construction workers in the house, are transient. If your cat is upset about something in his environment thats only temporary, do your best to help your cat find some peace and quiet, perhaps in a back room with soothing music playing to drown out sounds from the rest of the house.
If new humans or pets have recently joined the family, time is often all it takes for most cats to adjust to the new dynamic. You can help by using cat appeasing pheromones like Feliway, which are available as sprays, collars or plug-in diffusers, can help to calm cats. Giving all pets their own space, feeding separately and keeping enough litter boxes in the house , can also help.
Inside Vs Outside Doesnt Seem To Be A Factor
Some may hypothesise that an indoor cat could be more likely to suffer from depression than an outdoor cat as they are not able to roam and hunt as freely. However, there is no evidence to support this view. Most cats who grow up inside a house show no desire to head outside and explore.
It does appear that depression in cats is most likely to be caused by a change to your cats situation vs a fundamental approach such as being indoor vs outdoor.
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