You might have heard the saying that animals do not have feelings and that they are led by their instincts instead of a conscience.
I do not expect a cat to express itself as a human would but our cats are capable of real and complex emotions that we might not fully comprehend. Let us take a traumatic event such as a cat experiencing an abortion.
Do cats get depressed after getting an abortion?
Cats can get depressed after getting an abortion due to the impact of such a procedure. Although cats are not able to verbalize their emotions, losing their kittens can bring about anxiety, fear and sadness. A female cat can get depressed while mourning the loss of her litter.
In this article, we will take a look at the impact an abortion can have on a cat and what you can do if your cat is depressed.
Why Would A Cat Require An Abortion?
There are two types of abortion that a cat can undergo.
A planned abortion is when a cat’s unborn kittens are medically removed from her uterus even if her life is in danger or during a spaying procedure.
A cat can also go through a spontaneous abortion which is similar to having a miscarriage. This can cause the cat to reabsorb the embryo or experience a stillbirth.
When a female cat is pregnant, there are complications that can occur during her pregnancy. It could be due to:
- Underlying medical condition
- Sudden onset of a bacterial or viral infection
- Reproductive complications
Some cats who are pregnant can even get an abortion while getting the cat spayed. This usually happens to stray and feral cats who are brought to the vet.
Some cat owners with intact female cats might also choose to terminate their cat’s pregnancy if they are not able to care for them.
Can Cats Get Depressed After An Abortion?
Although there is a lack of verbal communication about how the cat feels after an abortion, some cats can suffer from bouts of depression.
There are some factors that can lead to a cat’s depression.
The Cat Doesn’t Understand What Happened
Unlike humans, cats do not have the ability to wrap their heads around something like an abortion.
To the cat, it feels very different from being pregnant to being barren within such a short time span.
If it was a planned abortion, it was something that the cat would have no say in.
Without the ability to reason and rationalize, the cat will feel confused about the whole episode.
I spoke to a breeder who told me that he had a queen which gave birth to a few dead kittens.
The death of her kittens affected her so badly that she started to starve herself to the point of being anorexic.
She was basically skin and bones after a few months without having any underlying medical condition.
Thankfully, the breeder managed to find her a forever home and she made a good recovery with her new family.
If the cat is in the early stages of her pregnancy, it might not have a big impact on her mental state.
But if the abortion happens when she is close to giving birth, that can cause a big change in her routine which can lead to a depressed cat.
Many cats are creatures of habit and can be thrown out of whack if there is a major change in their day-to-day routine.
The Cat Is Undergoing Physical Stress
Not only will the cat be undergoing mental stress about her physical change but the cat’s health also might not be in the best of conditions after the operation.
Assuming that the cat went through an abortion while getting spayed at the same time.
This procedure involves making an incision in the cat’s belly that is large enough to remove her uterus and unborn kittens.
There’s less stress on her body if the spaying was done in the early days of her pregnancy.
It won’t be the case if the fetuses have already taken their forms. A bigger incision will have to be made to accommodate this.
The bigger the surgical site on the cat, the longer will be the downtime and recovery period. There will also be a lot of bleeding and discharge from the cat.
During this time, the cat will most likely be made to wear an Elizabethan collar to prevent the cat from licking and biting at the surgical site.
I have yet to meet or know of a cat that is fine with the collar on. Mine started walking backward when he was made to wear one after being neutered.
Wearing the collar can make the cat feel a lot of stress and anxiety which can also affect their appetites.
All these factors can result in the cat going through many negative emotions which can cause it to experience depression.
The Cat’s Hormones Are Out Of Whack
When a cat gets pregnant, many changes will happen to the cat. Not just physically but hormonally as well.
There are three main hormones that are secreted in the cat’s body during the gestation period which are estradiol, luteinizing and progesterone.
These hormonal changes can alter the mood of the cat and when they start to fluctuate wildly after the cat’s abortion.
This crazy hormonal fluctuation can lead to depression in cats.
How Can I Tell If My Cat Is Depressed?
Although going through an abortion is difficult for many cats, a lot depends on the cat’s personality too.
Some cats can bounce back very quickly while others might need at least a few weeks to mourn the loss of their kittens.
Depression in cats isn’t the same as clinical depression in humans. Factors like stress and anxiety can cause cats to feel depressed.
Sometimes, depression can manifest as a medical condition in cats.
Here are some common symptoms of a depressed cat:
- Change in litter box habits
- Loss of appetite
- Hiding more than usual
- Sleeping a lot
- Unprovoked aggression
- Excessive vocalization
It is normal for the cat not to be her usual self after the surgery due to the anesthesia and medication.
It can cause some weird behavior like dilated eyes or feeling drowsy for a day or two.
What we need to look out for are prolonged symptoms that go beyond the normal recovery period. It would be best to bring the cat back to the vet for another check-up.
How Do You Help A Cat Who Is Depressed?
Most depressed cats are able to snap out of their solemn moods after some time. But there are a few things that you can do to speed this up.
See A Veterinary Behaviorist
Some cats can show signs of depression but still be in perfect health. In this case, seeing a behaviorist might be a good alternative for your cat.
A veterinary behaviorist is able to treat your cat’s behavior by analyzing its psychological problems.
If medication is needed, they can use anti-depressive drugs for more severe cases.
Spend More Time With Your Cat
A cat that is feeling depressed would definitely benefit from more attention from its owner. You don’t have to do much besides sitting next to your cat, giving it more pets and talking lovingly to it.
Cats look to us for security and comfort and there’s nothing more therapeutic for a cat than knowing its owner is there to help it feel better.
Engage Your Cat More Often
A depressed cat is more withdrawn than usual and will spend most of its time hiding and sleeping.
To break this vicious cycle, try to engage and play with your cat more often.
Get some toys that will spark your cat’s interest like a remote control mouse or a laser pointer. Or if your cat likes the outdoors, try it out for a short walk on a leash.