How to Cheer Up a Depressed Kitten

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Just like humans, pets can suffer from a wide range of mental illnesses, even depression. If your new kitten is refusing to eat or is lethargic or sleepy all the time, it's possible he's depressed. Fortunately, there are plenty of steps you can take to cheer up a depressed kitten.

Physical Comfort

Make sure the kitten feels at home in his environment. Most new kittens spent some time with their mothers, and instinctively long for the caring touch of a larger creature. You can fill this role by holding the kitten gently to you and cuddling him. This has the added benefit of keeping him warm. Kittens can have trouble maintaining their body temperature, and this can lead to symptoms similar to depression.

Another option is to buy a stuffed animal to fill the role of mother. This may not provide the same interactive contact as a real mother, but it can help many cats feel comfortable.

Fill the Void

Cats (again, like people) are social animals and often benefit emotionally from having other cats nearby. If possible, inviting a second cat into your home may cheer up a depressed kitten. When you're not around, the other animal will keep your kitten entertained and feeling secure.

Some pet stores also sell pheromone spray. This scented chemical spray simulates the presence of other cats, and is formulated to trigger positive emotional reactions.

Break Out the Toys

Try to take your kitten's mind off whatever is depressing him by providing a variety of fun, engaging toys. These can be toys that he plays with by himself, or that you or another pet might drag in front of the kitten to get his attention. In fact, even a simple piece of string can radically improve your cat's mood for only pennies.

Many depressed cats and kittens will respond favorably to catnip. This can be sprinkled on bedding or placed in a favorite toy. The only thing to remember is that a few cats don't care for catnip, so watch your cat's reactions and be prepared to discontinue that activity.

Last Resort

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your kitten cannot get out of his depressed funk. Depression in kittens can be purely emotional, but it can also be the result of physical problems. If nothing you try seems to work, don't be afraid to take your kitten to the vet. He or she will be able to diagnose the problem formally, and can refer you to a specialist, if necessary.

 
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