When I brought my (now adult) cat home as a kitten, I wasn’t sure why he was acting so strange. Weren’t kittens supposed to be happy little balls of fluff? Why was he constantly meowing so loudly, even when I was in the room? Why did he hide away for hours when strangers were visiting my house? I felt like I was an inadequate owner. No matter how much attention I gave him (and believe me, I gave him TONS of playtime and cuddles), he always wanted more. He kept crying, loudly, over and over. What was I doing wrong?
Now, though, when I look back on it, I think I can understand the problem. He might have been depressed.
It sounds odd, I know. But cats, I’ve discovered, are definitely capable of feeling depressed, just like humans are.
Sokka was used to having brothers and sisters. He was part of a large litter before I got him, and was still spending time with his mom. He had probably become used to his home too, and to his owners. When he was given to me, I drove 2 hours back from where I picked him up to take him home. It was a long drive, and he hid in his carrier the whole time.
Back then, I didn’t really know cats could be depressed. I thought he’d take a few days to get used to his new house, and snap out of it. Wasn’t that how it had gone with my family cats?
There were so many things he was missing, though. I didn’t take that into account.
Since then, I’ve learned that when cats cry loudly and repeatedly like that, they’re missing a companion. Or, in Sokka’s case, companions – his old owners, his mother, his brothers and sisters. He’d been taken abruptly away from that and driven to a new home 2 hours away, to a place that was unfamiliar.
The crying makes a lot more sense now.
He’s become used to his life with me since then, thank goodness. I played with him, talked to him, gave him an abundance of love, and he came around. Now he follows me from room to room, and purrs loudly when we’re sitting together on the couch. And, thank goodness, he doesn’t wake me up with the loudest meows in the universe at 3 AM anymore.
It’s easy to look back on that stage of my life and laugh a little now, but back then, it wasn’t much fun at all, believe me. I’m sure it wasn’t fun for him either. If you have a cat, and their behavior seems off, or if it’s changed recently, depression might be to blame. I read up on it, and I’ve discovered some tips for helping depressed cats feel happier. I’d like to share some with you, ones that worked for me and for Sokka too.
1. Look for the signs first
To rule out any other health problems, ask your veterinarian about what’s going on first. If your cat is doing some of the things that I’m about to list, and they’re otherwise healthy, depression might be to blame.
- Your cat isn’t grooming themselves, and they seem lethargic.
- Your cat is acting more aggressive than usual.
- Your cat hides in one spot for long stretches of time.
- Your cat isn’t eating as much as he or she used to.
- Your cat is restlessly roaming around, meowing loudly.
- Your cat isn’t using their litter box like they’re supposed to.
Now let’s get on to how you can help:
2. Have a play session every day
Sokka was a very energetic kitten (and still is a very playful adult!), so this one really helped for him. I set aside time every day to throw toys around with him, and made sure it lasted at least 30 minutes. Back then, he loved playing games of fetch, and would bring the toys back to me! When he grew up, he realized I’d get the toys for him, though, and stopped fetching. I still miss it. Moral of the story: engage your cat in activity! They’re more independent than dogs, but they still like play hunting and spending time with you. What do they love doing? What kinds of toys do they like? Do they go crazy for catnip, play fetch, or like laser pointers? Find out, and you’re sure to have fun too!
One tip, though: DON’T play with them too close to bedtime, especially if they’re a very hyper kitten. I made that mistake, and it was one I never made again. No one likes a riled-up little furball jumping on their face in the middle of the night.
3. If you’re gone at work for long periods of time, find ways to keep them entertained
This can be as simple as leaving the blinds open so your cat can look outside. This one’s a personal favorite of mine. It’s easy to do, and Sokka, like most other cats, loves staring out the window. If you’re out in the country, maybe set up a bird feeder. Cats love watching birds, of course! Or, if you’d prefer, invest in an aquarium of fish. We had an aquarium in my old house, and it would keep Sokka entertained for hours.
Don’t want to buy bird seed or take care of fish? There are still lots of things you can do for your feline friend. Buy them an automatic, battery-powered toy or two, that they can mess with while you’re out. Leave the TV or radio on for them, so they have something to listen to. We tend to forget that like dogs,kitties do get lonely without us.If you have a human friend that they’re used to, ask if they can check on your pet for you. That way, they can get some play and socialization in while you’re gone.
4. Spend time with them in a way they like
We already discussed playing, but here are some other things I’ve done. Sokka loves catnip, so I spread it on his scratching posts and sit nearby as he sniffs at and eats it. If you have a cat that responds this way to catnip, give them a little and see if it helps elevate their mood.
Another thing that you can do is brush your cat (if they like it, of course – some cats really don’t). Grooming is one way they socialize with other cats, and it can make them feel connected to you too. Sokka likes brushing, but not for long periods of time. Experiment, and see how much time your cat likes to be brushed. Make sure to watch their body language!
Even just being near your cat can be comforting to them. If they aren’t hiding somewhere, seek them out and sit close by. Some cats might approach you and ask to be petted, but even if they don’t, they probably still like having you near. I’ll sit on the couch by Sokka at home and read. Sometimes he likes to be touched, sometimes not. Ah, the fickle personality of the cat.
That’s it for my tips, and I hope sharing my story helps some of you. Remember, every cat is different, and figuring out what they like and dislike takes some time. Do some reading of your own, try different things, and be patient. I bet your cat will start perking up again before you know it.
About the Author: Luciferbui is admin of Best1x.com, she is an accountant but she like to write blog, so that why she created Best1x blog to share more experience about hers pet with us