That title surely got your attention because you’re a cat parent who loves their purrfect feline and you’d never want to do anything to crush your cat’s spirit! Cats can be tricky to figure out and we may not always realize just what they need to be their happiest. But don’t worry, we’ve done some research in order to help you give your cat their best life ever!
But before we can get down to what crushes a cat’s spirit, let’s take a moment and think about how your cat is feeling. Thankfully, our modern-day is one that puts much emphasis on the state of our mental health. Our furkids should be included in these discussions on the wellness of mind too. And in including them, we should also understand depression presents differently in cats than it does in people, with Dr. Lynn Hendrix, owner of Beloved Pet Mobile Vet in Davis, California, explaining to PetMD, “In general, depression in humans is considered a multifactorial disease,” brought on because of chemical imbalances, situations, and medical conditions.
What Causes Cat Depression?
In cats, much of the depression they experience relates back to certain changes or stressors in their environments. In these cases, identifying the root cause of their sadness and correcting the problem can release a cat from the hold of depression. For more difficult cases, veterinary medicine can offer pharmaceutical help as you work through the problem. But how can you tell if your cat is sad or even depressed?
Litter box problems are one symptom of depression in cats, but it’s not the only one. According to Dr. Hendrix, “The clinical signs we see tend to be loss of appetite, avoidance behavior, less active, and abnormal behavior, like hissing.”
Truly, any sudden change in your cat’s mood and behavior, including the ways in which they interact with you, can be a sign your cat is sad and feeling the weight of a problem pressing down on their feline spirit. So, what things can cause the sadness that’s crushing your cat’s spirit? Read on to find out…
13 Things that Crush Your Cat’s Spirit
#1 – Not Cleaning the Litter Box
Cats are all about clean and this extends to every part of their lives, the litter box included. One of the fastest ways to crush your cat’s spirit is skipping regular litter box cleaning. Boxes should be scooped at least once a day, but twice is a better bet. If using clay litter, dump the old substrate and clean the box with mild dish soap and water twice a week. If dealing with clumping litter, this can be extended to every couple of weeks as long as you scoop daily. When it comes to your choice of soaps, avoid strongly perfumed options and harsh chemicals like ammonia. These can put kitty off the litter pan too.
Also, remember the golden rule of litter boxes…one litterbox per cat, plus at least one more. Cats tend to be territorial over where they eliminate, so it’s best that everyone has a space that feels comfy and safe to go. Looking for more ways to win the battle of the litter box? Check out these 5 Ways To Make Your Cat Comfortable Using The Litter Box.
#2 – Forgetting to Fill the Food Bowl
This goes without saying! Everyone loves food and that includes cats. Forgetting to feed your cat can definitely result in some soul-crushing. Be sure you stick to your feeding schedule to keep kitty from getting hangry. In addition to regular feeding schedules, be sure your cat is getting the best food for their individual needs. Have a kitten? They need the specific nutrient makeup kitten food provides to their growing bodies. How about a senior? Same deal, elder cats have different nutritional needs than kittens or younger adults. If your cat has allergies or a chronic condition, speak to your vet about the best type of food to keep kitty happy and healthy.
#3 – Leaving Kitty’s Water Dish Dirty
Do you like to drink out of a water cup that has slime on the sides or stuff floating in it? Neither does your cat. Be sure to replace the water in their bowl daily for fresh sipping. And always be sure the bowl has an adequate level of water available for your cat. As you would your own water cup, clean your cat’s water dish with soap and hot water every couple of days.
If you want to give your kitty some fun when it comes to their hydration, try a water fountain designed for cats. Not only does it keep the water moving for a fresher taste, the fountain also provides entertainment. Kitties will enjoy watching the pretty water flow as well as sipping from it. If you’re considering a fountain for your cat, do your research and be sure to avoid plastic fountains made with BPA. Cleaning rules still apply to fountains, so keep them slime-free and shiny just like you would a regular water dish.
Worried about your cat’s hydration levels? Here are 7 Ways To Get Your Cat To Drink More Water.
#4 – Shouting
Cats don’t care for loud noises and a raised voice shouting in anger can be terrifying for felines. When cats get scared, they go into defensive mode and, when feeling aggressed, cats will will hide in order to avoid contact with you, the loud animal who frightens them and hurts their sensitive ears with all the vocalizing. Shouting at a cat might also trigger aggression which could lead to an attack.
#5 – Punishing
Using physical punishment on your cat is never a good idea. Never spank your cat for doing wrong. Physical punishments can lead a cat to feeling defensive, which can turn into an aggression issue between you and your cat. Never rub a cat’s face in messes either. Doing so is confusing for a cat and will more likely make them choose an area you can’t find to do their business in order to avoid getting their face rubbed in it.
In fact, the ASPCA provides this of what NOT to do when it comes it soiling issues:
- Never rub your cat’s face in urine or feces.
- Do not yell at your cat and carry/drag her to the litter pan.
- Do not confine your cat to a small room with the litter box without doing anything else to resolve the elimination issues.
When it comes to what we as humans think of as bad behavior in our cats, do as cat behavior expert Pam Johnson-Bennett always suggests and “think like a cat!” Why does a cat pee on the carpet instead of their box? Why does your cat always get on the counter? Think about it from their perspective. Cats do the things they do because it benefits them. Does she go on carpet because hard litter feels funny on her feet? Or could another cat be aggressing her as she tries to use the litter pan, so she goes elsewhere?
When it comes to the counter, is there food up there? Shiny, fun things to be played with? Do you feed your cat on the counter? What draws kitty up there? It’s up to you to find out so you can fix the issue. Cats are just following their instincts and it’s up to us to create a home that safely caters to those instinctual thoughts in order to find domestic harmony with our felines.
So, when you have to address those bad behaviors, avoid physical punishments and use positive reinforcement to change cat behavior issues. Johnson-Bennet offers The “Must-Have” Checklist for Solving Your Cat’s Behavior Problem. Plus, clicker training is a great way to solve behavior issues and teach your cat fun, new things. To learn more, have a look at Clicker Training Cats: How To Teach Your Kitty Clicks Equal Rewards.
#6 – Ignoring their Health
Cats don’t always give us major signs when something’s wrong as they have an extraordinary ability to mask the extent of the pain or illness plaguing them. Learn your cat’s subtleties in order to be sure you’re doing everything kitty needs to be his healthiest. Also remember, part of keeping felines in optimal shape means sticking to annual veterinarian checkups even if your cat is feeling fine and frisky! These checkups can alert you to any blossoming issues before they get out of hand. If your cat is showing signs of pain or symptoms of illness, make an appointment right away. Ignoring your cat’s pain or sickness can lead to a host of other problems, crushing your cat’s spirit among them.
Are you accidentally guilty of crushing your cat’s spirit? Scroll on to be sure you’re not unwittingly committing these sins against felines.
#7 – Not Providing Mental Stimulation
It may seem like cats just like to laze about and nap, and while they do indeed enjoy a good snooze, cats are intelligent creatures with minds as agile as their body. In the wild, cats flex their mental muscles by hunting as well as taking in the scene around them. To satisfy the instinctual feline prey drive and stimulate the mind of your house cat, provide him with toys he can chase, pounce, and toss around. Cats typically have a prey preference and you can easily discern your cat’s choice of hunting target by watching their reactions to different types of toys. Some cats enjoy toys that fly through the air while others want to scurry along behind something that skitters. When it’s not time for play, be sure your cat has access to a window so they can watch the outdoors. With their ability to see more than we can, a window view can provide lots of sights to engage your cat’s brain while she’s lazing about.
One way to crush your cat’s spirit is ignoring your kitty’s need for play and stimulation. Keep feline brains and bodies sharp with lots of playtime. This includes playing by themselves and playtime with you. Laser pointers and toy wands are a great way for you to play with your cat.
Looking to keep your cat from getting bored? Here’s 11 Fun Ways To Keep Your Cat Entertained.
#8 – Teasing or Hurting
Put straight to the point, don’t physically harm your cat or tease and taunt them. When it comes to teasing, we’re not talking about teasing with a toy. The type of teasing or taunting meant here is the mean kind, like shoving your cat or holding her down and not letting her get away. Just don’t do it. It’s not nice to bully anyone. To keep your relationship on good footing, study this list of 11 Things Humans Do That Cats Dislike.
#9 – Never Grooming
Part of good cat care is regular grooming. And while cats do a great job of bathing and keeping tidy, they depend on us for help as well. This includes brushing, nail clipping, ear cleaning, and teeth brushing. From a groomer, check out these 4 Tips For Grooming Your Cat At Home.
If you’ve noticed your cat has left off with their regular grooming habits and his fur is becoming oily, tangled, or just plain unkempt, schedule an appointment with the vet. Cats who give up on grooming may do so out of depression, illness, or injury. Problems of aging can also keep senior cats from keeping up with their grooming habits.
#10 – Leaving the Lights Off
While they can be thought of as creatures of the night, roaming when the land is dark, cats need a little light in their lives. Even in the wild, cats don’t exist in complete darkness. Feline eyes can certainly see in low light conditions, but they cannot see in complete darkness. The moon provides light to hunt by and then, of course, the sun always rises.
But what about inside the home? How lonely and sad does a house always in the dark feel for a kitty? In the daytime, provide some natural lighting via sheer window curtains or blinds that don’t block all light. The field seems divided on this topic, but it just seems polite to offer a little light for your best friend. Especially if you aren’t home for long periods of time. One lighting courtesy you can do for your cat…leave an automatic night light plugged in near the litter box. This way, your cat never has to go in complete darkness.
#11 – Not Learning the Feline Language
Cats may not speak the same language as us, but they do have a language all their own. Through chirps, trills, and meows, cats communicate so many things. And each sound has its very own meaning to your cat. Even purring tells your kitty’s story if you stop and listen. But it’s not just about the sounds cats make. Their bodies communicate many different things too. From tail talk to slow blinks, study your linguistics with the 9 Rules Of Feline Speak: Learn To Communicate With Your Cat.
#12 – Not Spending Time Together
Your cat loves you and wants to spend time with you. This time spent can be as simple as tossing toys for your cat to chase or even curled up on the couch together. Whatever you and your cat enjoy doing together, do it often and regularly. Never spending time together is one sure way to crush your cat’s spirit.
#13 – Not Offering Mutual Respect
You like to have your space respected and your feelings considered. Do the same for your cat or you risk dampening that feline spirit you love so much. Spend time with her, talk to her about her day, and be sure to respect her space too. If she’s not in the mood to be held, then give her the distance she needs. Getting a hug when you aren’t in the mood for one can make you grouchy just like it does a kitty! If she doesn’t want a snuggle at the moment, don’t fret, your cat will be ready to cuddle again in no time. After all, you and your cat are best buds who love each other without end!