Bipolar disorder in a cat?

Our question this week was:

Can cats have bipolar disorder?

Dorothy Potter


Hi – thanks for your email. Another very interesting question – can cats have “bipolar disorder”? Cats are unique and their behavior can be mystifying at times.

I’m not sure what your cat is doing, if anything, that inspires the question. If your cat is doing something, the question is – is it normal or not?

The reason I say this is that some cats will have wild fits of energy (go to “When Your Cat Gets the Midnight Crazies“) that are normal for many cats. Of course when they do this, many cat owners think they are crazy! For experienced cat owners, they realize it’s just a “cat thing”.

Let me back up for a second to look at what is “bipolar disorder”. Bipolar disorder, previously known as manic-depression, is a human term used to describe a mood disorder, where periods of clinical depressions cycles with periods of mania. The mood swings can be extreme and cycle quickly or slowly. I’m not a psychiatrist but that is my understanding of the disease.

I’ve never heard of this being diagnosed in cats. One problem may be that we don’t easily recognize “clinical depression” in pets. I think pets can get a bit depressed, lonely or more often bored but it is hard to diagnose. Most times when I see a cat that is presented for being depressed, he is actually weak or lethargic being caused by some underlying medical problem that is making him not feel well, it is just a matter of finding it.

I’m thinking that your cat may have the “Midnight Crazies”? Read the article and email me and let me know what you think.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

P.S. Does anyone have a cat they think has “Bipolar disorder”? I’m curious.

Or does anyone think their cat is depressed?

Or does anyone have a good story about their cat getting the midnight crazies?

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