Bipolar Disorder In Cats

January 8, 2020

Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder that can cause a person to have very distinctive periods of moods. People with this mental disorder usually will appear extremely happy and positive one moment and depressed another moment. Bipolar disorder in cats on the other hand is not as easily distinguished from normal cat behavior as cats are normally very excitable when it comes to play.

So a lot of cat owners may not be aware when their pets start showing signs of having bipolar disorder. It can be really hard to tell the difference between normal, acceptable cat behavior and bipolar behavior. You need to be really observant. Watch out for the following signs below that is indicative of a bipolar cat.

Cat Bipolar Symptoms

The following is a list of the most common signs of a bipolar cat. As some of the signs may be similar to normal cat behavior, you may not be able to totally differentiate between normal and non acceptable behavior.

Aggressive behavior when hungry
It is normal for cats to start hissing or snarling to get your attention when they are hungry. However, if it is followed by destructive behavior, then it may be a sign of being bipolar.

Aggressive behavior when petting
One moment your cat is enjoying your petting, the next moment it started snarling at you. If that happens, it is not normal as all cats enjoy being loved and petted by their owners.

Aggressive behavior when playing with toys
Similarly, most cats enjoy play time and playing with toys. However, if your cat starts showing signs of aggressive behavior such as hissing and snarling at any toy, it is time to observe your cat more closely.

Change in sleeping pattern
Cats normally sleep around the same time and at the same place every day. Their sleeping patterns are very routine once established. However, if you find your cat changing its sleeping timing and place, it is cause for concern.

Elimination outside the litter box
Once a cat is house trained, it is fair to say that the main problem in caring for your pet is solved. However, a bipolar cat may start urinating or defecating outside its litter box. It may also start growling or hissing when using the litter box. However, elimination outside the litter box may be due to other issues as well.

Hyperactive after meals
Cats love to play after their meals. However, it is not normal if your cat starts going insane right after its meals. Typical signs will include destroying your furniture, growling or hissing at toys or simply running all over the place.

Periods of depression or sadness
If your cat starts displaying periods of depression or sadness, it is time to observe your cat more carefully. Are these periods followed by periods of extreme happiness and joy? Normally, these periods of depression and sadness will not last long, but will be very frequent. If you observe a lot of ups and downs in mood, then the chance of your cat being bipolar is quite high.

Showing excessive signs of jealousy
Jealousy is very common in cats. It is perfectly normally for your cat to be jealous when you show affection for other people or pets. However, it is not normal when your cat starts being aggressive about its jealousy.

Sudden change of behaviors
One moment your cat is enjoying your company, the other moment it started being aggressive to you. Then it started becoming loving again. You may start wondering what is happening to your pet. The quickness in such mood swings is definitely a sign of being bipolar. This sudden change of behavior may also apply to other cats or pets in the household.

What To Do If My Cat Is Bipolar

You may want to consult your vet for further advice. Your vet may prescribe medication such as Prozac or other anti-anxiety medications to control the bipolar conditions. Your vet may also recommend a cat behaviorist to create a behavior modification plan to change your cat’s behaviors for the better.

A point to take note is that many cat owners are wary of using medications to control their pets’ behavior problems. Personally for me, I prefer to go the non medication way.

Can you prevent bipolar disorder in your cat?

No. Bipolar is actually a condition whereby the cause is still not clearly understood. Experts believe it is a combination of both genetic and environmental factors that cause the bipolar disorder. As cats are creatures that are easily affected by changes in their surroundings, anything can cause them undue stress which may result in bipolar disorder like symptoms.

While it is normal for cats to display different emotions all the time just like humans do, it is vital to differentiate between normal emotional changes or extreme changes out of the ordinary. If your cat starts showing extreme emotional changes, it may be signs of a bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder in cats while not common can happen to any cats. If you suspect your cat of being bipolar, do not panic. You may want to consult your vet for advice or engage a cat behaviorist for help in resolving your cat’s bipolar disorder.


Image Credit
Photo by M.L. DuongCC BY 2.0

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