Cats And Seasonal Affective Disorder

cats and seasonal affective disorderBy Stacey Frazier   Is your kitty singing the blues?  This time of year can be emotionally difficult for people. The upbeat, busy pace of the holidays has given way to the dreary, listless winter month of January. The temperatures have dropped, the hours of sunlight are reduced, and sometimes it is just hard to find a reason to get out of bed. For people, this can lead to a condition known as Season Affective Disorder. Many people suffer from mood altering symptoms because of physical changes in their body that occur during periods of reduced sunlight. Many veterinarians have begun to recognize cats and seasonal affective disorder.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a depression disorder that occurs because of reduced sunlight. Lack of sunlight means less vitamin D production, as well as lowered levels of serotonin and melatonin, both brain chemicals important to sleep patterns and mood. As more people recognize Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in themselves, veterinarians are starting to recognize cats and seasonal affective disorder as well. Owners report more issues with listless behavior, appetite fluctuations, and acting out during the winter months. While cats are champion sleepers, some owners have reported their cats sleeping up to 21 and 22 hours a day!

As more people recognize Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in themselves, veterinarians are starting to recognize cats and seasonal affective disorder as well. Owners report more issues with listless behavior, appetite fluctuations, and acting out during the winter months. While cats are champion sleepers, some owners have reported their cats sleeping up to 21 and 22 hours a day!

It is not certain that cats suffer from the psychological issues of SAD. It isn’t as if we can ask them how they are feeling, if they are sad, or if anything is bothering them. Most believe that any unusual behavior is the cat mirroring the owner’s depressive mood. However, cats can suffer from the physical issues that occur with reduced Vitamin D production and lowered serotonin and melatonin just as humans can. Symptoms to watch for include excessive sleeping and lethargy, drastic changes in appetite- either excessive or reduced, acting out or aggression.

Symptoms of cats and seasonal affective disorder:

  •  Excessive sleeping
  •  Lethargy
  •  Drastic changes in appetite – either excessive or reduced
  •  Behavioral changes – acting out or aggression.

There are several ways you can help your cat and seasonal affective disorder. First, get them checked out by your veterinarian. Make sure there isn’t some other underlying health issue. While there are medications that can help your cat in severe cases, there is a lot you can do at home.

Ways to help your cat and seasonal affective disorder:

  • Make sure your cat as access to a window and sunlight. Set up a perch in front of a window with a bird feeder on the outside.
  • Get your cat moving! Exercise produces endorphins, which makes us all feel better. Laser pointers, new toys, and designated playtime with your kitty will help both of you fight off those bouts of sadness on those long, dark winter days.
  • Establish and maintain a routine to help alleviate stress and agitation if your cat seems out of sorts.

And always remember, Spring is on the way!

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