Sudden change in cats activity

by Rebecca Green
(New Zealand)

Our 8 month old male (desexed)cat, Zorro, is usually a fat boisterous fellow, who plays and sleeps and eats with gusto. We are in New Zealand so the temperatures are now getting colder. About three days ago, Zorro didn't get out of his bed, which was unusual. I thought he must be cold. His big sister, Freckles, who is nearly 3, felt the cold but wasn't bothered by it. Zorro has hardly moved the last few days. He seems sad. He went out in the sun this morning but is now back in his bed. He hasn't eaten much and I don't think he has pooed for a couple days. He did urinate this morning though. What could be wrong? Is it just the cold? I have given him a hot water bottle (well wrapped in towels) and a warm room and wool blankets.
Thanks,
Rebecca

RESPONSE:

Rebecca,

The first thing you have to do is establish that your cat doesn’t have a health problem. Cats are experts at hiding illness because in the wild it is a sign of weakness and makes them vulnerable to predators. But a simple example such as a bad tooth can make a cat retreat and not want to be active. Toxoplasmosis can cause a cat to become lethargic and lose its appetite and even get diarrhea. It is a disease that is usually caused by killing and eating small, wild animals that are infected. Antibiotics take care of it once you know about it. These are just a couple of examples to show that physical issues can cause the change in activity. You did mention that his bodily functions have changed somewhat, so it may be worth checking out with your vet.

However, if your cat is depressed (which seems to be the effect the weather is having on him) his appetite may diminish and he will avoid contact with humans and he may also become very quiet. He will sleep more than normal and his interest in playing will drop to almost nothing. Although depression in cats’ isn’t very common it does happen. The usual symptoms are sleeping more, avoiding interaction with their owners, eating less than normal, grooming less and rarely playing.

If you think that your cat is depressed, there are things you can do to try to bring him out of this mood pattern. Help your cat through this period of time with lots of attention and extra demonstrations of love such as petting and hugging him. Try to get him to play with his favorite toys and be there to join him in his playtime. You can also try to tempt him with special food treats to get him out of bed and more involved in activities.

When we go on vacation and are gone for 7-10 days, our cats used to get depressed until we started leaving music on for them. A friend that comes in daily to check them, feed them and clean their litter boxes, would also put a video on. It only plays for 2 hours before shutting off, but it changes their routines enough so the cats respond more positively than they have in the past. You might try a cat video. Type…videos for cats to watch…into Google and you’ll get a bunch from “youtube.com” as well as lists of others to consider.

If after a few days of trying to cheer him up he still doesn’t respond then you should contact your vet and discuss prescription anti-depressants and perhaps your vet will have some ideas on how to modify his behavior. Just like humans can get depressed with weather changes such as cold, shorter days and longer hours of darkness…so can cats. I hope I have given you some things to consider. Good luck cheering up your kitty or discovering a medical issue.

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