Depression in Cats: Mood Disorder Or Underlying Medical Condition?

depression in cats

When we think of depression, we may not think of depression in animals like we do in humans. Depression in cats occurs, but not necessarily in the same way or same reasons as it does in humans.

Is Depression In Cats Possible?

Cats can exhibit depressed behavior. They don’t necessarily experience the same emotional changes that humans do when speaking of clinical depression.  Depression in cats is seen as a multifactorial disease, according to the experts at  It can be the result of a situation or a medical condition.

Because cats cannot verbally express their symptoms to veterinarians, it is important to rely on the clues given through the behavior of a cat that appears depressed.  Has the cat’s daily behavior or activities changed?

Symptoms of Depression In Cats

The clinical signs of depression in cats include avoidance behavior, loss of appetite, reduction in activity levels and odd behaviors.  Some cats may even change their litterbox usage and others may have disrupted sleep patterns.

The difficulty, however, rests in those symptoms alone, as they can be caused by any number of physical conditions in cats. Your veterinarian has to rule out other problems before coming to a proper diagnosis.

Rule Out Medical Condition

Medical issues such as GI cancer or kidney disease may produce symptoms that mimic depression, so those issues have to be ruled out first.

Other times, especially in older cats, pain is the contributing factor in what appears like depression. Terminally ill cats may also exhibit depressive behaviors due to intense pain and nausea.

If your cat seems depressed to you, please consider the fact that an underlying medical condition may be the root of the problem. Your veterinarian should evaluate all facets of your cat’s health.  This includes a full history of the symptoms and a thorough physical examination.

Look for External Factors

When your cat is declared healthy, the next step is looking for external factors contributing to the depressed behavior. If the issue stimulating the stress can be eliminated, the symptoms should improve or resolve themselves.

Since cats aren’t subject to mood disorders by definition like humans are, getting a prompt evaluation from your veterinarian is key to getting your seemingly depressed feline friend back on the road to happiness and good health.

For more signs of possible signs of depression in cats, click here. Have you noticed signs of depression in your cat?  What was the cause, and how was the issue resolved?  Please leave a comment, we’d love to hear from you!



Written by Ann Butenas

Ann Butenas

An internationally-recognized author and writer, Ann began her professional writing career at age 12 and began speaking while in college. She has been published thousands of times over the past three decades in all media forms, was former editor and publisher of KC Metro Woman magazine, and has also hosted three talk radio shows in the Kansas City area.

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