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Cat Dementia: Everything You Need to Know

Updated on January 27, 2019
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Emma is former-journalist-turned-blogger, who enjoys writing about pets, property and pianos. She's a pet-parent to two four-legged friends.

What is feline senile dementia?

Just like humans, cats experience changes to their physical and mental health as they age. And though not every moggy will suffer, feline senile dementia is a disease that typically affects older cats.

Recognizing the signs of feline senile dementia in your pet is important, as knowing the symptoms can help you make lifestyle changes that slow the progress of the disease and increase your pet’s quality of life.

Here, we'll look at the signs you should look out for as your cat reaches their golden years, the symptoms of feline senile dementia, and what you need to do if your cat displays these symptoms...

A pet-parent cares for her senior cat
A pet-parent cares for her senior cat | Source

What are the signs of cat dementia?

Much like their human counterparts, our cats can experience dementia as they age. Also known as cognitive dysfunction system, or CDS, this impairment to the mental processes can manifest itself in many ways, from affecting a cat’s ability to learn and remember, to altering their awareness of their surroundings.

In some cases, cats experiencing CDS become anxious or afraid, leading to the seemingly gratuitous yowling observed in some older cats.

What should you look out for as your cat reaches their senior years?

Often, pet owners are perplexed when symptoms of CDS first appear, but there are a few signs that can clue you in when your cat is experiencing the onset of feline senile dementia.

1. Study your cat’s grooming habits. An unkempt coat can be a sign of feline dementia.

2. Changes to your cat's sleeping habits or overall lethargy

3. Increased irritability or anxiety

4. Fluctuations in Kitty’s activity levels, or general disorientation or confusion

5. Increased instances of incessant yowling

It’s important to note that these can all be symptoms of a host of other cat health concerns, from arthritis or hearing problems, to heatstroke and hypothermia, so it’s important to take your cat to the veterinarian to rule out and other causes behind your cat’s behavioural changes if they’re exhibiting symptoms of CDS.

What to do if your cat has symptoms of Cognitive Dysfunction System (CDS) or cat dementia…

Once your vet has ruled out other issues, you can begin your caring for your senior cat.

While, sadly, there is no cure for CDS, you can help your pet maintain their quality of life with a few simple changes: keep up their brain and motor function by ensuring Kitty gets plenty of physical and mental exercise each day.

Playing with your cat each day has been shown to slow the onset of symptoms, so invest in a fishing pole or other interactive toy for your pet. As a general rule, cats do not like change, and this applies doubly to pets experiencing feline senile dementia.

Try to move your cat’s food and water bowls, litter box, and even your furniture as little as possible to reduce stress on your pet. Likewise, it helps to feed Kitty at the same time each day- and also consider shifting to one of the best cat foods for older cats. If your pet ventures outdoors, try to limit their time outside to reduce the chances that they will get lost, too.

These small changes should serve you and your cat well into their senior years. However, pets experiencing severe cases of feline senile dementia may need extra help. If your pet is having trouble finding their water dish or litter box, consider adding more around the house. Take your cat to the vet for checkups more often – about twice a year – to ensure no other health problems.


Kitty staring out the window
Kitty staring out the window | Source

In summary...

While it can be difficult to care for an ageing pet, making a few simple modifications to your cat’s daily routine can help combat the impacts of CDS, ensuring they stay happy and healthy well into old age.

Do you have experience with feline senile dementia? Please share your experience or advice in the comments below.



This article is offered as a helpful public service, not as medical counsel or to take the place of your own veterinarian's professional guidance.

Remember, if you have any questions or concerns about your fluffy friend and feline senile dementia, make sure to consult your veterinarian who can provide expert advice.

© 2019 Emma Williams

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