Is My Cat Depressed?

You cat may be trying to tell you he's depressed with certain telltale signs. Xiaojiao Wang/Shutterstock

People aren’t the only ones who get the blues — cats can suffer from depression too. Behaviorists first recognized depression in cats in the 1990s, and felines can become depressed for several reasons.

A major disruption such as moving, adding or losing a family member or a change in schedule can trigger it. If a cat’s owner is going through a stressful time, the animal could also mimic that unhappy behavior.

Depression symptoms

A depressed kitty can exhibit a variety of symptoms, but one of the main indicators of depression or other illness is loss of appetite. If your feline leaves food untouched — especially for more than a day — you should consult your veterinarian.

Additional signs of feline depression include the following:

  • Loss of interest in playtime
  • Lack of grooming
  • Signs of lethargy or changes in personality
  • Aggression
  • Increased sleeping
  • Hiding in an isolated place or rarely used room
  • Twitching its tail
  • Climbing walls
  • Pining away at the window
  • Not using the litter box
  • Hissing and spitting
  • Scratching furniture
  • Scratching your hand

However, keep in mind that these symptoms could also indicate a number of other medical conditions.


Simply spending more time with your feline friend can help turn that kitty’s frown upside down, especially if there’s been a change in routine or another person or pet has moved in. Try introducing your cat to new toys and play with him or her for at least 30 minutes a day.

During cold, dark months, provide your kitty some extra light — leave a lamp on, pull back the shades or open the blinds.

You can also try a product like Feliway, which uses pheremones to help relieve feline stress.

If your cat isn’t eating or has exhibited symptoms of depression for several days, take your pet to the vet for a checkup. If a veterinarian gives your cat a clean bill of health, discuss the possibility of depression. Your vet may recommend behavioral modification techniques or prescription antidepressants.