Friday 20 May 2011

Cat Depression

Cat depression affects cats who are ill. Cats that are ill might get depressed as this is normal. I think the word "depression" is the wrong word to use in this context. Depression indicated clinical depression. An ill cat will feel uncomfortable and unwell which will make him or her unhappy but not necessarily depressed.

Depressed cat?
Picture in public domain

You will find that anti-depressants are not prescribed (or not normally prescribed) for cats who have been diagnosed as depressed, as a free standing medical condition, because cats are not diagnosed in this way. It is not possible to accurately diagnose a cat as being depressed as a free standing mental illness in my opinion. This is supported by the book Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook where there is not reference to such a condition.

Although cat behaviorists might prescribe anti-depressants to modify behavior - I disagree with this strongly. It is treating the symptoms and not the underlying cause and drugs such as these are to be avoided if at all possible as there can be side effects. Valium can cause severe liver problems in cats. Prozac is also prescribed for elimination disorders.

Anti-depressants such as Valium (diazepam) are used to calm a cat that is anxious and as a result does not use the litter properly. These are called "elimination disorders" or "inappropriate elimination". Once again this is not ideal because the underlying cause of the anxiety (probably something that we have done or are doing) is not addressed.

When a cat is depressed because he or she is ill, we should recognise this and spend more time with her. We should always speak gently and calmly with her and make sure she is getting the proper nourishment and is grooming herself properly. We can help with grooming.

When we leave the house it can help to leave the radio on. Human voices are comforting it is thought even if they are not the voice of the caretaker.

Peace and and quiet are essential to a depressed and sick cat. The cat should have a quiet comfortable area where she can sleep free from drafts and sunlight. The area should be ventilated and be warm. Sick cats can chill down. Some form of heating may be advisable but used with care.

Cat Depression Symptoms

I think we have to use our common sense here. A cat that is still (inactive), that is hiding and quiet might be depressed. Cats are good at hiding symptoms but the better way to decide if a cat is so called "depressed" is to check for symptoms of other illnesses. Common illnesses such as pink eye can be very upsetting to a cat and make the cat depressed for example. Major illnesses such as FIP will almost certainly cause acute unhappiness. As I said "depression" is perhaps the wrong word.

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