Cats do not cry in the same way that human beings do, but this doesn’t mean that they aren’t prone to feeling sad or depressed. While they might not sit in a corner with tears streaming down their face when they’ve had a bad day, they can certainly feel unhappy and they will showcase this in a myriad of ways. In fact, much like humans, cats can even become depressed under certain circumstances. Cats can also tear up, but this is for medical reasons as opposed to emotional ones. So let’s have a look at how cats showcase that they are feeling sad, and when their eyes might tear up.
How Cats Show That They are Sad:
Cats do not cry in the conventional sense, but that doesn’t mean that they cannot showcase feelings of sadness or despair. While they might only tear up for medical reasons (discussed later) they can still feel sadness and despair. There are a few ways that you can tell if your furry-friend is feeling upset, or even depressed.
- Vocalization or lack thereof
While humans usually cry when they are feeling hurt or upset, cats prefer to vocalize their feelings. Sometimes when a cat is really upset (or if they are hurt) they could make a screaming sound to showcase their pain. They might also release a slow meow (that has been described by some as ‘mournful’) to highlight their unhappiness. If their sounds seem somewhat pained and are not followed by their usual purr, they might be feeling sad, or they might even be injured. However, some cats might also reveal their sadness by becoming very quiet. If your cat was once very vocal and has suddenly become very quiet it could show that they are feeling depressed.
- Body language clues
Body language offers your cat a silent way to communicate what they are feeling. While your cat might not vocalize their sadness, sometimes their body language can offer their humans clues about how they are feeling. If your cat is feeling sad they might demonstrate this in a number of ways. Tell tale signs that all is not okay with them might include held back ears, a tucked in tail (that could also highlight fear), or even their hair standing up straight. These signs could also all indicate anxiety and thus you will have to base your analysis on the situation at hand. (For example, if these signs happen during a firework display it could convey fear. However, if they are happening all the time it could highlight something more long-lasting, like depression.)
- Sleeping all the time
While cats are certainly champions when it comes to cat napping (I mean, the cat nap was named as such for a reason), excessive sleep could signal something more than just wanting to bask in the afternoon sun and revel in the delights of a lazy afternoon. Check just how much your cat is sleeping and try to keep a record of it if you are worried about depression. Another telling sign could be if they have changed their usual sleeping spot. While many of these issues alone should not be a cause for alarm, it is important to keep an eye on any behavioral changes so that you can speak to your vet about what is going on and find a solution to the problem.
- They hide all the time, or cling to their humans
A cat that is feeling sad or depressed might also lose interest in being social. If your cat was once social and playful and has suddenly begun to withdraw and remove themselves from social gatherings, it could be a sign that they are feeling depressed. While some cats might want to avoid large groups of new people or be wary of noisy events, a sudden change of behavior could signal that something is wrong.
- They lose interest in grooming themselves
While this can sometimes be a sign of illness and should ALWAYS be checked out at your vet, it could also indicate that your cat isn’t feeling very happy. Cats are super proud creatures and love keeping clean. If they stop grooming themselves their coats might begin to look very dull or unkept. Always get this checked out as some diseases can impact their skin and coat health. However, if they are otherwise healthy this could point to feelings of sadness or depression.
- They might stop eating, even their favorite food!
When your cat suddenly stops eating this could be a serious sign of illness and you should get it checked out immediately. However, snubbing food (even their absolute favorite cat treats) could also be a sign that they are feeling upset about something.
So Why Might Your Cat Feel Depressed?
Your cat might feel depressed for a myriad of reasons and the first thing you will need to do is find out why.
Disease or illness:
Cats sometimes try to hide illness from their humans, but withdrawing from activities and sleeping all the time could be a sign of illness. It is thus imperative that you get them checked out by your vet as soon as they begin to showcase these symptoms. Treating symptoms early on can oftentimes prevent more serious conditions and thus it is super important to get your cat checked regularly. If they seem healthy it is still important to get them checked out once a year. This can be a great preventative to more serious illness down the line.
If your cat’s depression is a result of illness your vet will be able to prescribe the appropriate medication or treatment and when they are feeling better, their spirits should begin to lift.
- An injury
Depressive symptoms might also point to a potential injury. Not all injuries can be seen, however your cat might be experiencing pain. Injuries could be caused by serious things like being hit by a car, or another accident. They could also signal more chronic conditions like arthritis. Get a medical check-up to rule out any internal injuries and if your cat is experiencing chronic pain, your vet will prescribe the appropriate medication. Again, cats might try to hide pain from their owners, but these symptoms should not be taken lightly.
- Grief or loss
Much like humans, our furry friends can also feel grief and experience heartbreak. If they have lost a loved one (human or perhaps another animal) they might experience a period of mourning. If they have lost a fellow feline companion they might miss the company of a playmate and they might eventually love a new friend. However, be cautious of getting a new pet immediately. Allow your family and pet some grieving time and introduce a new cat when they dynamics are back to normal. Investing in a new pet is a big decision and should be taken seriously after some time.
So If Your Cat is Acting Normally and They Aren’t Feeling Sad, Why Might Your Cat Be Tearing Up?
If your cat is tearing up, it is likely a sign that they have an issue with their eyes and might be experiencing ocular discomfort. Discharge coming from the eyes can be a sign of allergies, an eye infection, or disease. If you notice that your cat’s eyes are constantly tearing you will want to take them to a vet quickly. This will prevent any ocular issues from getting worse and causing damage. They might need eye drops or medication and your vet will be able to determine if the problem is chronic (and if they will need constant medication), or if it is a once off reaction or infection.
Cats tearing up is always indicative of a medical ocular condition, rather than a demonstration of sadness. When your cat is sad (due to illness, injury, or the loss of a loved one) they might showcase depressive symptoms. These might include:
- They stop eating
- They withdraw socially
- They stop grooming themselves
- They become lethargic and don’t want to play
- They cry out or make melancholic sounding meows
- Their body language seems anxious
If your cat is doing any of the following, get them to a vet immediately. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your beloved pet’s health and the quicker you get them to your vet, the happier they will feel!