Cats have a reputation for being proud and independent animals that walk on their own because they allow themselves to be stroked only when they are in a mood. However, like us, cats can worry and be sad, anxious, and even depressed. Only, unfortunately, they cannot tell us about this.
So what does it mean, if their attitude changes? And what to do? Let’s figure it out.
Cats may be anxious when they are alone
Over the past decades, cats have become so attached to humans, adapted to living next to them, that anxiety of separation often becomes a cause of behavior disorder. They express in different ways: some cats tear wallpaper to shreds until the owner returns, others can destroy all objects, chew on wires. They can not cope with the panic that gripped them alone.
The unpredictability of the appearance of the hosts also forms a state similar to agitation. What if the food is over? The bowl of water is upside down and there is no other source to drink? The noise from the entrance, the dog barking under the window – any little thing (for you and me) make the cat nervous. Therefore, the anxiety of separation must be worked on.
How to help:
Two methods work here, which must be applied together:
- Desensitization is applying a smooth and short-term stress factor on a cat. For example, we went to the porch for 5 minutes (check the mailbox), returned to the cat. Then they left for 10 minutes – to chat with the concierge. Then 15 minutes to the store near the house. Slowly increase the time of absence.
- Contra-conditioning is the development of a positive perception of a stress factor instead of a negative one. Be sure to turn an unpleasant event into a pleasant one: starting from short intervals, before each departure we give a tasty treat that the cat loves more than anything else. Are you back? A treat again! With young kittens, other contra-conditioning works without food. For example, hide your favorite cat toy while you are at home. As soon as the time comes to leave, get out, and leave a “replacement” for you. Are you back? We give a treat and hide the toy until the next departure. ⠀
Cats are worried about unjustified expectations
In a situation where the cat’s need isn’t fully or partially satisfied, an oppressed state of the psyche arises due to unjustified expectations. It is followed by irritability, anxiety, tension. Patterns of behavior that are incorrect from the point of view of a person are formed.
For example, before a cat could sleep with its owner, but a partner appeared, and it has an allergy – they ask to move the cat out of bed. Perplexity in the cat’s eyes: “I could sleep there before, but now what happened? And why?” It regards this as a punishment, for which there is simply no reason. ⠀
How to help:
- Do not abruptly throw a game with a cat if it is actively playing. If you need to leave, smoothly transfer to another lesson.
- Do not use the toy that it is impossible to catch (it concerns the bunnies too). This is a game without a result. For the cat, not only the process is important, but also the achievement.
- Respond adequately to the needs of the cat. If someone in the family is allergic, arrange several places for sleeping outside the bed, but with the ability to observe the owners. And if you often close the door to the bathroom, where the tray stands, install a cat door and teach it to use it.
Cats have trouble living in a shelter
In a cramped space and without proper rehabilitation, the cat loses a healthy interest in life. Instincts and reactions become dull, it can begin to hurt. The cat cannot get out of this state on its own, it needs human help.
How to help:
- Communication. If you want to volunteer and visit cats in shelters – be sure to do it! Even if “I can’t, it’s a pity, I would take everyone” – go and talk.
- Physical activity. Of course, walks are necessary – in a cramped space, the cat quickly loses shape, which affects both health and the psyche.
- Fresh air. Cats need air, just like you and me. In addition to the benefits to the body, it is important to study the world in which new smells appear.
- A variety of objects and textures. The more the cat has a choice of subjects to study, the less likely it is to withdraw into itself. Bring even just wooden spools of thread (without thread), feathers, and all kinds of lids.
- Music. In rehabilitation centers for animals in many countries, they use music: Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Vivaldi, piano sounds; any music for relaxation. No need to turn it on loudly, cats are great listeners.
- Grass. This is a piece of nature. You can quickly and easily grow it yourself, or you can buy an already made one.
Cats may have depression
Many still do not believe that cats and dogs are prone to such conditions. However, depression occurs in different cats (by the way, females are more susceptible to males than males).
Do not think depression every time a cat is sad. In the case of human depression, a person does not want to live. In the case of a cat’s depression, daily rituals, subjects, and objects simply lose their meaning. It ceases to react to everything. We can’t say about unwillingness to live, but the longer the animal is in this state, the more its body functions fade away, and this leads to death.
The difficulty in diagnosing depression in a cat lies in the fact that it can be confused with other disorders: dementia, severe stress, and a depressed physical condition due to illness.
Who is at risk:
- cats over 7 years old;
- animals whose life has changed dramatically. Out of warmth and comfort, they are suddenly on the street or in the shelter’s cage;
- Pets are forgotten and deprived of communication. For example, the birth of a child encourages some people to restrict the cat’s movement around the house. The lifestyle changes too sharply, they shout and put pressure on the animal;
- the death of a beloved owner or another animal. Many cats (like dogs) are not able to cope with anguish and pain.
Factors indicating depression (the coincidence of all factors, not just one or two): ⠀
- lack of reaction to sounds and movements, despite the fact that the animal is healthy;
- the cat basically lies and pays no attention to anything (no one), while there are no violations of the organs and systems, but the pet seems to be sick;
- when an animal tries to move, it does not seem to own its body. Thinks for a long time about where to go. The states of stupor and walking in circles (but do not confuse it with damage to the central nervous system);
- a strong decrease in appetite. Rejection of any, even the tastiest food, or its acceptance through effort (it can just slightly lick everything);
- the coat looks scruffy as a result of the fact that the cat refuses to clean itself. (Again, maybe problems physical health);
- there is no reaction even to other animals – the cat does not care;
- does not recognize favorite things and smells;
- becomes invisible: not visible, not heard. It can be in the darkest corners, lying under the furniture and on the floor. Even when it is cold, and the temperature in the apartment is below normal;
- sudden mood swings: a sudden transition from indifference to aggression. While the aggression is very short, then the cat bounces off. It’s as if it’s not understanding what just happened. Its look changes (this symptom is also present in other mental disorders).
How to help:
- If all the symptoms coincide and do not change over time, doctor can prescribe antidepressants. This is not about stop stresses (toys), but about real medications for cats with a clearly calibrated dosage by the veterinarian.
Using drugs and psychological rehabilitation methods, you can pull your pet out of this condition and not allow it to die.