Feline Dementia, A Cognitive Dysfunction

Categories: Cat Health Care
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If you own an older cat, you may notice changes in his or her behavior. These changes in behavior could be a result of many different things, so it is always best to get your cat checked out by your veterinarian. One condition that tends to get overlooked is cognitive dysfunction syndrome, or feline dementia. Like humans, cats can also show signs of dementia.  This article can help you spot these changes in behavior when they begin to occur.

Cats are living longer these days, so there is more evidence now that some older cats suffer from feline dementia. Researchers from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland have studied the brains of cats with dementia and found similarities to humans with Alzheimer’s Disease. They have also discovered that as many as 50 % of cats over the age of 15 exhibit some signs of dementia.

Signs of dementia:

  1.  Felines with dementia may seem disoriented or confused, especially at night. Loud meowing or increased talkativeness may occur. Pacing back and forth or just sitting and staring at the wall are signs that a cat is lost and confused.  
  2. Changes in sleeping habits are sometimes hard to detect, since cats sleep most of the time. As felines age, they tend to sleep even more. This affects the amount of mental and physical stimulation that they are getting.
  3. Cats with dementia may eventually stop grooming themselves or become poor groomers.
  4. In a state of confusion or agitation, cats may seek more attention from their human companion. They need to feel comforted by something or someone they know.

Caring for a cat with dementia:

  1. Felines need mental stimulation at all ages, especially indoor cats. Continue to bond with your cat by playing with him or her everyday. Whether it is with your companion’s favorite toy or a paper ball, spend a little time each day exercising your cat’s mind and body.
  2. Keep your feline companion’s stress level down. Do not change his or her environment. Adding new cats, changing furniture, and having lots of visitors around will add to your cat’s stress and confusion. Try to keep as much as possible the same in his or her world.
  3. Love your cat.  Show your cat some kind of attention everyday, whether it is playing with, grooming, or both. Your cat needs to know that he or she can count on you to be there.

Potential drug therapies:

  • Cholinesterase inhibitors will increase the availability of acetyl choline at the neuronal synapses.  Drug therapy is still a novel idea with this disease.  Feline dementia is becoming more and more recognized as a disease process, so our approach to it will continue to evolve.
  • Selegiline is used to manipulate the monoaminergic system.  This drug may or may not be appropriate for your companion.
  • Antioxidants and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs reduce neuronal damage.

The most important thing you can do for your cat is to monitor his or her behavior. As your cat ages, behaviors will change. It is very important to have your cat checked out by a veterinarian. If your cat is diagnosed with cognitive dysfunction syndrome, love and attention is the best thing you can give  your cat.