As the world has progressed and advancement can be seen in technology and science, this has led to improved awareness and knowledge on how to care for our feline friends. As a result, our cats are living longer due to better home care, nutrition and veterinary care.
Aging cats often suffer a decline in functioning, including their cognitive functioning.
Cognitive decline in cats, referred to as Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS), or
also known as senility, dementia or Alzheimer’s in cats, affects more than 55% of cats aged 11 to 15 years and more than 80% of cats aged 16 to 20 years. The prevalence of CDS increases with age but does not differ by breed.
CDS is characterized by behavioral changes; however, many of these behaviours can be symptoms of medical issues such as renal failure and hyperthyroidism.
It is important to take your cat to the vet to get a diagnosis and rule out other diseases
first, CDS is diagnosed once other illnesses are ruled out.
Signs of behavioral change due to cognitive dysfunction tend to become clearly
noticeable in cats that are ten years of age or older. They start to deteriorate in their memory, ability to learn, awareness, sight and hearing. This deterioration can cause
the following changes in your cat.
• Increased anxiety and aggression.
• Disturbances in sleeping patterns or excessive sleeping.
• Disorientation or reduced activity.
• Wandering away from home into unfamiliar territory
• Long periods of staring blankly into space or at walls
• Indifference to food and water.
• Urinating and defecating outside the litter box.
• Unprompted episodes of loud vocalizing.
Understanding the changes your cat is undergoing can help you compassionately and effectively deal with behavior problems that may arise in their senior years.
Cat owners can play a significant role in delaying the progress of feline senility and its accompanying disabilities.
Take your cat to a veterinarian for routine check-ups so health problems are identified early. Feeding an ageing cat a diet rich in vitamin E and antioxidants, is believed to improve cognitive function and the effects of ageing.
Providing enrichment, environmental stimulation and changing the areas around your home to make it easily accessible to your cat is extremely helpful in catering to your cat’s needs. Provide ramps for movement up and down stairs if necessary and ensure litter boxes are low and conveniently placed.
The combination of environmental stimulation and a diet enriched with antioxidants
is believed to have a combined positive effect in improving cognitive function, so both of these strategies should be employed together.
Written By - Marie TISOVN student - Certificate In Feline Psychology and Training