Cats have wildly different personalities. Some are naturally quiet and timid.
I used to have a cat that never meowed and was almost silent. She was perfectly happy; she just wasn’t much of a chatterbox! However, many cats are incredibly outgoing and social. They love chatting to their owners, and a sudden loss in their usual outgoing nature can be worrying.
This begs one question: Why is my cat quiet all of a sudden? Unfortunately, cats that are suddenly quiet and calm are often depressed or extremely upset. It is one of the subtle signs that your cat is feeling sad, and you need to learn the best ways to make them happy again!
If your loud and social kitty has suddenly turned quiet, you’re in the right place. In this article, I run through possible reasons why your cat has lost their extroverted personality, other signs of feline depression, and tips on how to cheer your furry friend back up. Your cat will be happy and chatty again in no time at all!
Why is My Cat Quiet All of a Sudden?
If your usually loud cat is quiet all of a sudden, it is typically a sign of depression. Like humans, depressed cats become more socially withdrawn and turn inwards. They naturally chat to their owners less and won’t meow as much as they used to. You might even hear unhappy noises from your feline, such as hissing! These are all common emotionally traumatized cat symptoms.
There are many reasons cats can get stressed and sad; as emotional creatures, they can be upset by tiny environmental changes. Below are some of the most common causes of sadness in cats that could be responsible for your kitty’s change in mood.
1. Loss of a Loved One
Many assume cats are aloof and independent, and some even go as far as to say cats don’t like their owners! However, felines are highly emotional animals known to grieve just as humans do over the loss of a loved one.
Cats can become depressed if they’re recently lost a family member they were closely bonded with. I am not strictly referring to death here either. Cats will be equally as upset when a family member passes as they will a child moving away from home or a partner moving out after a relationship breakup. They are grieving the loss of the person from their home environment.
Likewise, the loss of a loved one doesn’t need to be a human. Cats also grieve the loss of other animals they are bonded closely with. If you have another cat or a dog your kitty is friends with, your furry friend can get upset when they’re not at home anymore.
If you think your cat’s depression is due to the loss of a cat or family member, you might assume getting a new pet can help improve your cat’s mood. However, cat depression after a new kitten is introduced to the family is common. Cats don’t like change and may struggle with their old friend’s “replacement.” Be cautious when getting a new pet and ensure enough time has passed first.
2. Painful & Debilitating Injuries
Injuries can cause your cat to become sad and lose its usual outgoing personality. Minor injuries probably won’t upset your cat for extended periods, but more severe injuries can. They often limit your kitty’s ability to carry out activities they love, causing them to become depressed.
Imagine you are a keen tennis player and have recently broken your leg. Until you recover, you’ll have to stop playing the game you know and love, making you feel miserable! This lull is similar to how your cat is feeling. Cats have the instincts to run, climb, and pounce, and they soon become agitated if they’ve injured their leg and cannot do these things.
To make matters worse, the pain from the injury can also contribute to feelings of sadness. Cats cannot easily communicate their feelings of pain and instinctively hide this from their owners. Sometimes, the pain can become unbearable and make them feel extremely sad. They’re so upset they don’t even want to talk to you!
If your cat has been injured, you must take them to the vet. Always follow their recommendations on treatment or pain relief while their body recovers. Remember that older injuries and previous surgeries can cause your cat pain as well, so they may still require treatment for chronic pain even months after the injury was sustained.
3. Underlying Illnesses
Like injuries, illnesses can make your cat quiet all of a sudden. Some illnesses cause similar pain to injuries and make movement difficult. One example is arthritis, a painful mobility issue that affects the joints. It causes chronic pain and makes it harder for your cat to move freely, all contributing to a low mood and lack of vocalization.
Many other severe conditions also impact your cat’s happiness. Below are some common diseases that have been found to cause depression in cats:
- Fatty liver disease
- Diabetes mellitus
- Dental diseases
- Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)
- Feline leukemia virus (FeLV)
These are all serious medical conditions that need prompt treatment from a vet. Aside from your cat being miserable, some of the conditions are fatal. Take FeLV as a worrisome example – it is the leading cause of death in cats after trauma, with 85% of infected cats dying within three years.
On a more positive note, cats can suddenly go quiet due to a minor respiratory tract infection. Rather than your cat being more withdrawn and reclusive, it will lose its voice. You might notice your cat can’t meow just squeaks or that your cat’s meow is weak and raspy. Other common cold symptoms will also present, such as sneezing, congestion, and a runny nose.
4. Changes To Their Home Environment
I’ve already discussed one major environmental change that can cause depression in cats: losing a loved one. However, more minor and less obviously upsetting adjustments can still lead to depression. Cats are extremely sensitive and love consistent environments and routines. Anything that disbalances this can cause them to become quiet suddenly.
One great example is bringing a new kitten into your home. For you, this is a happy and exciting time! But for your old cat, the converse might be true. The new arrival is threatening their territory and “stealing” the attention of their owner, causing feelings of upset and stress. A new baby or roommate also causes similar effects, making your old cat feel pushed out.
Something more minor such as a change in your work schedule can also lead to depression. Your feline friend is used to having you around at specific times of the day, and you suddenly not being there can spark feelings of loneliness. This is especially likely if the change is abrupt.
Significant home changes could also be responsible for your cat’s mood. Minor changes such as rearranging the furniture or moving the location of their litter box shouldn’t cause too much upset, but moving to a new home can be highly upsetting. When I moved from the city to the country, I found my cat scared of everything! She’s okay now, but big changes take some time to adjust.
What are the Symptoms of a Depressed Cat?
When a cat is suddenly quiet, it nearly always points to depression. Your feline is feeling permanently low and doesn’t want to socialize anymore. To confirm how your cat feels, you might want to keep an eye out for the other subtle signs of feline depression:
- Low Energy: All cats love sleeping! But a sudden increase in the amount of time your cat spends sleeping is concerning. Low energy indicates your cat is too miserable to move or has an underlying condition that’s taking all of its energy. Pay particular attention if your kitten is weak and sleepy – as smaller and vulnerable creatures, they must be monitored closely.
- Changes to Grooming Habits: Cats love self-grooming almost as much as they do sleeping. However, the love of grooming disappears in depressed cats. They lose interest in keeping their appearance looking sharp, and their coats will gradually become more unkempt.
- Appetite Changes: The appetite of depressed cats also changes. In most cases, cats will eat less when they’re in a low mood. They have stopped caring about themselves and no longer see a reason to eat. In other cases, some cats will binge eat when feeling sad. Overeating is also one of the common labor signs in cats, so make sure your kitty isn’t pregnant!
- Forgetting Learned Behaviors: Depressed cats often forget learned behaviors, such as failing to use the litter box despite being trained. It can be easy to get annoyed with your kitty for this, but getting angry will only make them feel less loved and more miserable.
- Aggression: Cats might become more aggressive when sad and start lashing out and you, family members, or other pets. Common signs of aggression include hissing, growling, scratching, and biting. You must speak to your vet if your cat becomes aggressive to avoid potential upset and injury.
How Can I Make My Cat Happy?
Seeing your cat quiet all of a sudden can be upsetting. I hate when my cat is withdrawn and antisocial as I know something must be wrong!
Your first step is taking your cat to the vet. They need to rule out or treat any underlying medical conditions or injuries. Your vet will also talk to you about recent changes that could have caused your cat to turn quiet and best advise on how to improve their mood. Sometimes, they might prescribe anti-anxiety medication to lower your cat’s stress levels.
Always follows your vet’s advice and call them back if you don’t see any changes. In the meantime, there are several other tricks you can use to help cheer your cat up! Try some of my tips below to help your depressed cat feel happy again:
- Pet & Stroke Your Cat: A little comforting goes a long way with cats. If you notice your cat is sad, approach them slowly and see if they’re in the mood to be petted. Sometimes, a little love and care from their owner are all they need to lift their spirits.
- Talk to Your Cat: You can also try talking to your cat each day. Talking is a non-invasive way to help show your cat your care, so it is an excellent solution if your cat is not responding well to petting or is behaving aggressively. Daily conversations with your cat also help combat loneliness, one of the leading causes of depression.
- Play Together Regularly: When a cat is quiet and withdrawn, playing together might be easier said than done. However, trying and engage your cat with play is still important. Try using their favorite toys or ones infused with catnip to help encourage them. It is a great bonding activity, and exercise is known for boosting endorphins in the brain.
- Invest in Pheromone Products: Pheromones are calming chemicals produced naturally by cats. However, you can purchase pheromone products that contain artificial replicas of these chemicals and release them into your cat’s environment for a calming effect. Diffusers and calming collars are two products you might be interested in finding more about.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
Noticing my cat is quiet all of a sudden is never nice. Sudden behavioral changes such as this usually indicate something is wrong, and becoming more quiet and withdrawn is a common sign of depression. Knowing your kitty is sad is a tough pill for any loving owner to swallow!
Thankfully, there are ways to cheer up your depressed cat. Creating a consistent routine, putting aside time to play together, and stroking your cat every day all contribute to a happier outlook. Pheromone products and prescribed anti-anxiety medication also help improve your cat’s mood.
The most important thing you can do though is to be patient. Depressed cats often exhibit unwanted behaviors, such as failing to use their litter box or acting aggressively. Never punish your cat for these things and understand why they’re doing them. They are dealing with mental health issues and need all the love and support you can give them.