That is the determination of six University of West Terrier researchers who have analyzed the results of the first phase of a three-part study of depression and its effects on Cats.
The study, entitled, “Depression in Cats: Even Miaowgirls Get the Blues,” was funded in part by The Catnip Company and is the first undertaking of its kind in the history of UWT’s School of Medicine.
“We are very excited about this study,” said Dr. Chloris Cougar, who heads the team of dedicated researchers.
“Until recently, we had to make do with second-hand information, most of which came from Human sources and did not, necessarily, reflect the realities of Feline life.”
The current study, she said, “gives us the opportunity to analyze data that pertain solely to Felines. This will enable us to understand the full effects of depression on our particular species.”
The UWT Researchers estimate that Feline depression accounts for a significant loss of productivity in The Park, as well as profound mental anguish and physical discomfort for the individuals involved.
In addition, Dr. Cougar believes that depression can cause or affect other illnesses in Cats.
“We have long suspected that depression has been, in part, the cause of other conditions that Cats presented with at our hospital and at Dr. Bourru’s office. We look forward to having the chance to test that hypothesis.”
To date, analysis of the first phase of the study has enabled the UWT team to isolate at least one distinct depressive syndrome in Cats, which it calls Feline Unipolar Depressive Disorder, or FUDD (see symptoms below).
“This is truly a breakthrough,” said Dr. Cougar, “Once we are able to recognize the symptoms of depression in Cats, we will be able to develop effective treatments for the disease. This study has given us all new hope.”
Results of the second and third phases of the study are expected to be published within the next three years.
FUDD: The Symptoms
Physical symptoms include changes in appetite and sleep patterns, fatigue, and restlessness:
- A large number of Cats reported being conscious more than half the day.
- Most Cats reported a marked decrease in their interest in food.
- Psychomotor activity changes include decreased incidence of and ability to knead, claw, climb, jump, spring, and pounce.
- Researchers noted decreased speed in eye movements and claw retraction.
- Mood symptoms include a reduced capacity to enjoy warmth and sunshine, as well as a generalized lack of interest in adult daily life.
- Some Cats experienced a desire to return to the behaviour of kittenhood, and reported an increase in the desire to suckle.