When your cat gets older, problems with his health will inevitably begin. Of all the health problems in older cats , senility and dementia are the most debilitating. The sooner you recognize the warning signs and consult a veterinarian, the better you can help your pet.
By the symptoms we could say that it is Alzheimer ‘s disease in cats. Your cat will be confused and disoriented. He will fight to get to the litter box on time. You will stare into space or blank walls for hours on end. Perhaps the saddest symptom comes when your cat begins to not remember or recognize you.
It is convenient to know the symptoms of this condition and act accordingly. Senility has a major effect on a cat’s quality of life and should be minimized whenever possible .
What is Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome in Cats?
Even if we don’t want to see it, our cats age faster than we would like. If we stick to popular wisdom, one year for us is similar to seven years for a cat.
A cat can be considered older when it reaches the age of 10. At this age, our cat still seems young to us, since well-cared cats can reach 20 years. However, your cat will spend more time as an older adult than in any other phase of his life.
With aging, health problems arise. Older cats often have problems with their mobility and internal organs. As they become more sedentary, older cats gain weight and can develop diabetes. Vision and hearing will begin to fail.
Most worrisome is that many older cats suffer from dementia , a disease that causes your cat to lose its ability to think clearly over time. Essentially, this condition is the equivalent for your cat of Alzheimer’s disease in humans.
Cause of feline cognitive dysfunction
In short, the main cause is old age. The cognitive dysfunction feline can affect any cat or race. The first symptoms of dementia can appear around 12 years of age.
When a cat turns 15, it is very likely that it will suffer from this condition. By the time your cat is 17 years old, he is most likely suffering from feline dementia.
The scientific explanation for senility is in molecules known as free radicals . These are produced by the body organically and require oxygen in the blood. As a result, less oxygen reaches the brain, which makes cognitive function increasingly problematic.
Free radicals are essential, but they must be balanced by antioxidants . As our cats get older, they generate less antioxidants, but free radicals continue to be produced.
Larger cats may have problems with dementia earlier than smaller breeds. Their bodies require more energy, leaving less oxygen to share with the brain.
Like Alzheimer’s disease, this condition can be inherited. However, tracing a feline’s family tree can be difficult.
Symptoms of cognitive dysfunction in cats
There are many symptoms, the most common are:
- You seem confused by simple obstacles in your way.
- The cat may lose memory.
- Needs outside the litter box
- He meows a lot and is restless.
- General disorientation.
- Staring into infinity, or blank walls, for hours.
- Erratic and distressed sleep at night.
- Loss of interest in playing or the world around him.
- Lack of cleanliness.
- Lack of appetite, eat less.
- Some aggressiveness.
- Does not recognize family members.
Some of these behaviors could be attributed to other conditions, or simply old age. To this end, veterinarians have devised the feline cognitive dysfunction diagnostic system.
The four symptoms that manifest senile dementia would be:
- Disorientation in the day to day.
- Less frequent interaction.
- Sleep patterns are increasingly erratic.
- Major changes in your daily hygiene.
Let’s take a look at these symptoms in more detail.
My cat stares at the wall
One of the first warning signs of cognitive dysfunction is staring . Senile cats spend many hours staring at the wall, or at infinity.
Another sign is that your cat is rubbing its head against the walls. Prolonged head rubbing is a symptom of feline cognitive dysfunction .
My cat moves disoriented
If your cat is pacing, as if looking for something, this confusion is proof of feline dementia. Your cat will wander the rooms it used to know, seemingly baffled to find its way out. You will suffer memory loss , small obstacles in your way will disorient you.
An older cat’s sleep schedule is upset. You will have to tire him out during the day.
My cat is constantly meowing
The mewing over for no reason is one of the most troublesome symptoms of feline dementia. This becomes delicate when it occurs at night.
A senile cat will often have its waking and sleeping hours changed. This causes them to become distressed about being ignored late at night. Don’t forget that cats are twilight.
If your cat meows too much all night , you will need to take action. What you can do is tire and keep your cat entertained during the day. Do what you can to tire your pet.
My cat removes out of the litter box
Eliminating outside the litter box is often the first warning of senile dementia in a cat . It could be a consequence of the stress and anxiety that cats feel during cognitive dysfunction.
But most likely your cat is confused. When a cat is not thinking clearly, it may not use the litter box properly.
You can try to put a solution by placing several litter boxes around the house. The more litter boxes your cat finds, the more likely it is to instinctively use them.
The important thing is that you do not scold it, clean it and try not to give it importance. Scaring your cat, who is already anxious, will make him afraid to relieve himself.
My cat is not grooming
Cats are very clean animals. They spend long periods of the day grooming themselves. If your pet suddenly loses interest in it, you should be concerned.
You will notice that their hair loses its usual shine, and will have a different smell. Of course, senile cats also stop using the litter box. This can make the lack of grooming even more noticeable.
It is important that you help your senile cat with his hygiene . It may be an idea, take time each day to clean your cat with wet wipes. Do not neglect its cleanliness.
The cat stops eating
Most cats can be very picky eaters and picky eaters, but what is rare is that a cat does not eat anything .
Observe your cat around meals. If you have lost your appetite and neglected your diet, it may be a sign of feline cognitive dysfunction.
Are you eating less food than usual? Are you licking the sauce or gelatin and not consuming solids? Do you walk away from your food and look into space?
If your cat does not eat for two days in a row, call the vet. This is very dangerous.
My cat doesn’t seem to recognize me
The memory loss is so important in feline cognitive dysfunction and Alzheimer’s disease. When your cat stops greeting you or doesn’t seem to recognize you, it’s a sign of feline senile dementia.
Remember that cats recognize their owners by voice, not by sight. Your cat would never be able to tell your face from anyone else’s. As far as they’re concerned, you’re just another big cat.
The only way to avoid this problem is for you to talk to him. Talk directly to your cat, making sure he understands that you are talking to him. The more your cat listens to your voice, the more it will remember who you are, so they can remember that you were once important to them.
My cat is being aggressive
A worrying sign of feline dementia is the onset of aggression. The severity of this will vary from case to case.
Some cats are a little grumpier than before. They will be upset if you wake them up from naps and spend more time alone. Other cats, unfortunately, will scratch and bite, seemingly for no reason.
DO NOT forget that your cat is older. Some of this aggressiveness may be due to loss of vision, hearing, or both. If your cat cannot see or hear you, it may become frightened and a frightened cat will often attack first.
Some cats, instead of being aggressive, become very clingy and affectionate.
Diagnosis of feline cognitive dysfunction
Once you notice the symptoms, you should go to the vet. Gather as much information as you can about your cat’s behavior. The more data you can provide the vet, the better.
Several tests will need to be performed: these will include blood tests, X-rays, and ultrasounds.
Once a diagnosis is confirmed, your vet will work out the next steps with you. This will generally involve the administration of medication and everything that can be done to make your cat comfortable.
Feline cognitive dysfunction does not automatically lead to euthanasia . Some cats will live many years after their diagnosis. But yes, the earlier the condition is diagnosed, the greater the chances that your cat will enjoy a quality life.
Treatment of senile dementia in cats
There is no cure for feline cognitive disorder . If your cat has developed the condition, he won’t get rid of it. However, medications can slow the progress of the disease.
There are no official drugs for dementia in cats. However, some treatments for canine dementia have been used in felines, with positive results. These include selegiline and propentofylline.
In addition to these medications, much of your pet’s treatment will depend on you. The more mental stimulation you provide, the sharper your cat’s brain becomes. Your brain will need a special diet enriched with vitamins E and C, antioxidants, selenium . There are medications based on fatty acids and L-carnitine that can help you.
The earlier your cat’s Alzheimer’s is diagnosed , the more likely they are to live a full life. This is why it is important to bring an older cat to regular veterinary visits. Once your cat reaches the age of 7, you need to be more cautious with his health.
The treatment of feline Alzheimer’s is a long and arduous road, with no cure in sight, don’t expect a miraculous recovery, it doesn’t exist. On the other hand, it is not a fatal condition, it only affects cats that are nearing the end of their life.
Caring for a cat with Alzheimer’s
If your cat has been diagnosed with a feline cognitive disorder, it will need special care and attention. You can follow these tips:
- Don’t disrupt your cat’s routine.
- Do not move the furniture in the house.
- Keep your cat at home. Outdoors it can be dangerous.
- Have litter boxes in as many places as possible.
- Provide your cat with a stimulating environment.
- Make sure they have their own quiet area or ‘safe space’ to hide.
- Monitor your cat’s physical and mental health.
- Never scold your cat for unwanted behavior, be patient.
Living with a senile cat can be very rewarding, but you will need patience and understanding towards your feline.
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