A lot of humans suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
But how about cats and other animals? Do they also suffer from this and how bad can it be?
In this article, you will find everything you need to know about this.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal affective disorder is a sort of psychological condition that causes mild depression. Researchers believe that this occurs because of the lack of sunlight in the winter. Without regular exposure to the sun’s UV rays, your brain doesn’t generate as much serotonin as usual. Serotonin is a “feel good” chemical we all naturally produce.
Despite what you might think, seasonal affective disorder doesn’t affect only humans. In fact, cats and many other animals can be influenced by the weather. This might be why you notice your feline friend acting differently depending on the time of year.
It is also possible that some people and animals get depressed in the winter because of vitamin D deficiency. Most of us get this vitamin from exposure to the sun, and it can affect a person’s overall mood. A lot of animal behaviorists believe that the same line of thinking can be applied to felines.
Signs of Depression in Cats
You will need to know which signs to look for when it comes to whether or not your cat is depressed. It usually easy to tell when a cat is suffering from moderate to severe depression.
One of the most common signs of depression in both humans and other animals is lethargy. Is your cat lying around all the time, completely uninterested in anything? If so, it is possible that they are depressed due to the change in season.
It is also pretty common for cats to sleep a lot more than usual throughout the winter. This is because their bodies are producing more melatonin than usual. This particular chemical is responsible for inducing sleep, or at least playing a part in this.
Some cats that become depressed end up getting very restless. They won’t sleep as much as they usually do. You might notice your cat being even more active than usual, bouncing and jumping around all over the place. This sort of manic type behavior can indicate depression. While this may not be how we think of depression most of the time, it is something to consider.
3. Hair Loss
Severe depression and anxiety can cause some cat’s hair to fall out. While this is fairly uncommon, it is a possibility to keep in mind. If you notice your kitty’s hair falling out in tufts, it could be related to their mental health.
What to do about your Cat’s Seasonal Depression
There are a number of things that you can do about your cat’s seasonal depression. It is important that you have a good idea as to what some of these options are.
1. Play with your Cat
It is very important that you do everything possible to keep your cat stimulated if you get the sense they are depressed. While it might be difficult to get your cat to play with you, it is important that you try. This could be enough to comfort them so they don’t feel quite so bad in the winter months.
2. Exposure to Natural Light
You’ll want your cat to get all of the natural sunlight it can during the winter. This means keeping the windows open and even letting them wander around outside a little bit.
Make sure that you position your cat’s bed in such a way that they get a good amount of natural light. This can really help with keeping their depression to a minimum.
If you are going to let your cat outside in the winter, you should have a shelter nearby that they can go into to get warm. You can buy one of these shelters without spending a huge amount of money.
You might even want to think about getting a sun lamp for the insight of your home. This can help keep serotonin levels in your cat at a healthy level all through the winter.
You can benefit from one of these lamps as well. While sun lamps aren’t the cheapest thing to buy, they can definitely be helpful at treating seasonal affective disorder. Full spectrum light bulbs are also worth looking into.
3. Dietary Supplements
There are certain dietary supplements that could be hugely beneficial to your cat in the winter. A vitamin D supplement might be able to lift your cat’s spirits a little bit during the winter months. This is certainly something that has been known to help a lot of people at this time of the year. If you feed your kitty properly with cat food it decreases the risk of being sick.
When to See Your Veterinarian
It is usually possible to improve your cat’s depression by using natural methods at home, but you might want to consult your vet. Your veterinarian might have some good tips for how to go about making your cat feel better when winter hits. They could recommend certain supplement or medications that can be helpful with this.
There is a chance that your cat’s depression could be related to something else entirely, such as an actual medical issue. If this is the case, you will certainly want to know it. When you take your cat to the vet, they will likely do a full examination of them.
- Seasonal affective disorder is a sort of depression that strikes in the winter months.
- Some people and animals can get depressed in the winter due to a lack of sunlight.
- The less exposure to natural sunlight animals get, the less serotonin their body produces.
- There are certain signs of depression to look for in your cat, including lethargy, restlessness, and even hair loss.
- You should consider using sun lamps or full spectrum lights to keep your kitty feeling well during the winter months.
- A dietary supplement like vitamin D might also be able to help your cat.
- Make sure that you play with your cat on a daily basis to keep it stimulated. A bored cat can easily become depressed and start acting out.
- You might want to take your cat to the vet to see if they have any recommendations to give you.