Feline Dementia - Will Age Bring Mental Deterioration To Your Cat?
We are all aware that humans can be affected by age related dementia, but may not be aware that our pet cats can also suffer from the condition.
Alzheimer's for cats?
Research has shown that many senior cats can develop changes in the brain that cause confusion, disorientation, irritability, unsociability and forgetfulness.
Dr Danielle Gunn-Moore, professor of feline medicine and head of companion animal science at the University of Edinburgh, believes that approximately ten percent of cats of all ages will go on to be affected by geriatric onset behavioral problems.
That's an awful lot of cats but by no means all cats will be afflicted by feline dementia in their later years.
Is it possible to reduce the chances that your cat will be affected?
It is believed that a cat's home environment can play a part in reducing the likelihood of cat dementia.
A cat that has a degree of interaction and companionship with other pets and/or humans is less likely to become depressed and develop dementia.
Even just a short play session each day can help to keep a cat mentally alert, as well as benefit the feline in so many other ways.
It is also thought that diet can play a part in reducing the risk of mental deterioration.
A diet rich in antioxidants is thought to decrease oxidative damage.
Your veterinarian may be able to advise you about a senior cat's diet.
Dementia (A.K.A. cognitive dysfunction) is found equally in male and female cats and, although research is still being carried out, all breeds seem equally susceptible.
It can be very difficult to determine if your elderly cat is suffering mental deterioration.
So many of the symptoms of feline dementia can also be signs of other cat health problems.
As an example, not paying attention to grooming may be an indication of senility but could also be due to a number of other things.
Your senior cat could simply be feeling unwell, or could have a physical problem such as feline arthritis that prevents her from caring for her coat properly.
Not eating. A feline experiencing dementia may suffer weight loss simply by forgetting to eat or by not being able to remember where her food is.
Not eating is not a sure symptom of feline senility however, there are many reasons for a cat not to eat. A senior cat may have problems with her teeth or gums for example. ( Cat Refuses To Eat. )
Disorientation and confusion. A senile cat may appear to be lost or unable to recognize locations that should be familiar to her.
She also may have difficulty recognizing people and familiar family pets. That could also be a sign that her eyesight is failing.
Not responding to her name or familiar commands may be a symptom of feline dementia, but could also be an indication of deafness.
Cognitive dysfunction syndrome may cause a cat to become grouchy or aggressive, even cats that have shown a friendly personality all their lives.
Of course, this irritability could also be a sign of physical pain.
Likewise a cat that has been somewhat cool and aloof all their life may start to become very demanding of affection and attention.
Not using the litter box. Senility may mean that a cat forgets where the litter box is, or forgets how to use it.
The cat may soil many places around the home. Again there are several possible reasons for inappropriate elimination, apart from cat dementia.
The cause could be one of many physical aliments.
The senile cat's sleep pattern may change. Many cats spend a good chunk of the day (and night) sleeping. There is not really a normal sleep pattern for cats, they are individuals.
It is a substantial change in a senior cat's sleeping habits however, that could be a symptom of dementia.
Increased vocalization. There are many reasons Why a Cat may Howl, Cry or Yowl. But an increase in vocalization from an older cat who is normally pretty quiet could indicate the onset of cognitive dysfunction.
Any of the above symptoms may cause you to take your cat to the vet to determine what the problem is. Giving your veterinarian as much information as possible about changes in your pet's behavior will help.
If your cat has problems remembering where the litter box is, extra boxes placed in different rooms may help. As your cat is getting on in years low sided litter boxes may make things easier for her.
If senility is causing your cat to become confused as to where she is, it may be easier for both of you if she is confined to one floor of the house. Place food and water in the places your cat favors.
If your pet has given up on grooming herself, then extra grooming sessions from you will help to keep her looking better and the interaction may also make her feel better.
Your cat may be confused and slow due to feline dementia but play sessions will likely still be appreciated by her. Play will have to be adapted to suit what your cat is capable of and sessions may need to be short but frequent.
Stress should always be avoided.
Feline Stroke Symptoms
Feline stroke symptoms should not be ignored. If you think there is a chance that your cat could be a stroke victim then get your pet to the vet as soon as you can.