Is Your Cat Looking a Bit Sad These Days?
Cats are best known for their insatiable sense of curiosity, so when a cat suddenly seems bored or depressed, it can cause her owner to worry about her health. But being able to determine whether your pet is depressed or just bored is important. This is because while the two states of being are similar, there are also distinct differences between them.
In this post, we will outline the key signs and symptoms of boredom and depression in cats and what you can do to help your cat return to her fun-loving self.
5 Signs Your Cat Might Be Bored
You may think it is quite normal for your cat to feel bored from time to time, but the truth is, there is a fine line between boredom and clinical depression in cats. In fact, if a cat suffers from boredom long enough, it can result in her engaging in certain behaviors that can cause depression to develop. For this reason, it is important to always monitor your cat’s behavior. If she suddenly experiences a change in her behavior, you can step in and do something about it before it leads to further problems.
Here are the top five warning signs that your cat might be suffering from boredom:
- Changes in eating habits: One of the first signs of boredom in cats is a change in eating habits. A bored cat will either overeat or show a disinterest in eating. Both come with their own potential for future health problems, so addressing this issue is critical. If your cat is overeating to pass the time, you should try to get her to exercise more to help prevent weight gain. If your cat is not eating, you can try changing her food to see if you can spark her interest.
- Sleeping more than usual: Understandably, this can be a hard one to identify because cats already spend a lot of time sleeping. But if you notice that your cat is sleeping more than what is usual for her, it could be a sign of boredom. If this is the case with your pet, you should try interacting with her more than usual to keep her engaged and awake.
- Excessive grooming: Cats groom themselves often throughout the day, but when it becomes excessive, it can cause problems like hair loss, sores, and increased stress and anxiety. Plus, the pain that comes with excessive grooming can cause a cat to get depressed. If you notice your cat is excessively grooming herself, try changing up her routine and look for things that might be triggering her anxiety.
- Destructive behaviors: Dogs aren’t the only pets that get destructive when they’re bored. Cats do as well. If your cat is scratching your furniture, ripping up your slippers, or shredding your curtains, then she could be acting out of boredom or trying to get your attention.
- Not using the litter box: A bored cat is more likely to try to get your attention by not using her litter box when she goes to the bathroom. But of course, this can also be a sign of a variety of other health conditions. Try changing the type of litter you use, clean the litter box out more frequently, and interact with your cat more. If she continues to go outside of the litter box, then you should take her to the vet for a checkup.
Signs Your Cat Might Be Depressed
Depression is a much more serious issue than boredom, so if you notice your cat is suddenly acting withdrawn or showing an absence of joy, then you should take her to the veterinarian to find out what is causing her depression.
While depression does share some signs with boredom, such as changes in eating and sleeping habits and weight gain or loss, there are other signs that usually accompany depression. Here are the top signs of depression in cats to watch out for:
- General loss of interest: Like depression in humans, a depressed cat will show a complete disinterest in things she once loved, like her favorite treats and toys.
- Withdrawal from usual habits: A depressed cat won’t practice her usual loving habits, such as welcoming you when you come home after work or jumping on your lap for cuddles.
- Lack of grooming: If your cat’s coat is becoming dry, dull looking, or knotted, then she isn’t grooming herself like she usually does. This lack of grooming is a key indicator that there is something wrong with depression being one of the possibilities.
How to Treat a Cat With Boredom or Depression
Whether your cat is bored or showing signs of depression, your first move should be to take her to the veterinarian because both issues could be a sign of an underlying health problem. If a health problem is ruled out by the vet, then something else is causing the change in your cat’s behavior. Common causes can include:
- Moving into a new home
- Arrival of a baby
- Change in work schedule
- Stray cats in the yard
- Loss of an owner
- Disruption in the family (i.e., a divorce or child going away to college or leaving home)
- Owner going away on vacation
If you have recently experienced one of these life changes, then you may want to make a few changes to how you engage with your cat. Try spending more time with her; create a safe place for her to climb and hide and encourage her to play more. If your cat continues to be withdrawn and disinterested, then vet-prescribed medication may be the next step.