Does Your Cat Get Depression in Winter? Light Therapy Can Solve it

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Now, you don’t often hear about cats getting depressed. In fact, most people don’t even know if depression is possible in animals.

A typical morning for cats usually involves purring, meowing, and stretching alongside family members. Then they’ll go to their favorite place to settle down in, and you continue with your day.

While we become comfortable with our cat’s daily routine, do we actually know our feline pets? What if your cat is depressed? Could you understand why? How can you help your cat overcome winter blues?

Cats are extremely sensitive to changes in light, more than humans. If there’s less light, a decrease in brain chemicals, including serotonin, can occur. When the weather changes to rain or snow, it’s not unusual for cats to feel the shift in sunlight.

Your cat, whether indoor or outdoor, may become depressed during the winter months. The lack of sunlight, less physical activity, and more time alone can contribute to feelings of restlessness or seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

What causes SAD?

SAD in felines occurs similar to humans, and it’s highly influenced by the amount of sunlight they’re exposed to daily.

If your cat has SAD, you may notice them behaving gloomy and moving slower than usual during the winter. However, when April and May roll around, they have more energy and appear happier.

The lack of sunlight is a serious problem as it reduces melatonin production, which results in depression, lethargicness, and anxiety. It also creates low levels of serotonin which acts as a neurotransmitter. With low serotonin, your cat may show signs of aggression, mood swings, and depression.

Achieving chemical balance is not easy, especially since serotonin cannot be given in a shot or pill. While your vet may prescribe a serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SRI), it comes with its side effects. A natural and non-invasive treatment option is light therapy, which adds natural sunlight into your cat’s environment to restore their chemical balance.

Using light therapy to treat SAD

You’ll often heart veterinarians recommend light therapy as a treatment for SAD. Light therapy is an affordable, natural, and non-invasive treatment option that can help stabilize your animal’s emotional highs and lows. And it costs less than a year’s supply of pet food. 

At Kaiyan Medical, we recommend treating your animal for 30 minutes every day with red light therapy. Cat and dogs suffer from many conditions such as inflammation, arthritis, and infections. Light therapy gives you the chance to help treat your pet and reduce their pain and suffering.

How it works

How does red light therapy actually help to treat animals? While you may think the answer is complex, it’s not. Red light therapy delivers red and infrared light into the animal’s cells, boosting the body’s natural ability to heal.

Using either LEDs or LASER diodes, light penetrates through the skin, entering the body’s cells. Photoreceptors in your animal’s cells absorb the light’s energy, enhancing the natural healing process by stimulating the cells’ energy production.

The use of varying lights helps treat different areas of the body. For example, red light is easily absorbed by tissue rich in hemoglobin, helping to heal surface wounds.

Near-infrared light penetrated into deeper tissues within the body, entering muscles, joints, bones, tendons, and ligaments for extensive treatment. Combing red, green, and near-infrared light offers a well-rounded treatment for your animal.

What else light therapy can do for your cat?

The way light therapy stimulates cells can help treat several conditions in animals, including:

  • Seasonal affective disorder
  • Joint pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Muscle soreness
  • Wounds and injuries
  • Rashes and infections
  • Inflammation

Clinical data has supported and proven light therapy’s effectiveness in treating animals. In one study, horses suffering from chronic back pain responded to red light therapy in less than three months of therapy, with 70% gaining the ability to train and compete. Other studies have also proven that horses treated with red light therapy experience faster tissue healing times.

Getting started

If you’re considering treating your dog or cat with light therapy, the first thing you need to do is consult your veterinarian, ensuring it’s the right treatment option for your pet.

Light therapy treats various conditions; however, if your pet is experiencing severe SAD, they may need an extensive treatment plan. At Kayian Medical, we love our animals and want to provide them with the best support possible.


Low-Intensity Light Therapy: Exploring the Role of Redox Mechanisms. Joseph Tafur, M.D. and Paul J. Mills, Ph.D.

Effect of NASA light-emitting diode irradiation on wound healing. J Clin Laser Med Surg. 2001

Treatment of chronic back pain in horses. Stimulation of acupuncture points with a low-powered infrared laser. Martin BB Jr. 1987.

Equine wound healing: influence of low-level laser therapy on an equine metacarpal wound healing model. Jann. 2012.

Effect of light-emitting diode (LED) therapy on the development of osteoarthritis (OA) in a rabbit model. Biomed Pharmacother. 2011

Low-level laser therapy reduces time to ambulation in dogs after hemilaminectomy: a preliminary study. Draper WE. 2012