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Cognitive Decline in Senior Cats

October 15, 2022

Did you know that, just like people, cats can experience a decline in cognitive abilities as they age? Cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) is not uncommon in senior kitties. A vet discusses this condition below.

Causes

There’s no one specific cause for feline CDS; it appears to be mostly age-related. About a third of kitties between the ages of 11 and 14 show at least one behavior that is associated with CDS. With cats older than 15, that number increases to a whopping 50%. Of course, with pets living longer than ever, CDS cases are becoming more common.

Warning Signs

The signs of dementia in cats can be subtle at first. They can also be hard to read. Fluffy may forget where her litterbox is, get ‘stuck’ in a corner, or get lost on the way to the kitchen. She may also just seem to wander aimlessly. Some cats will meow to vocalize their frustration and distress. Others may clamor for attention, and follow their humans around like furry little shadows. There are also some more general red flags, such as reduced appetite, poor grooming, withdrawal, changes in eating and sleeping habits, unusual vocalizations, and litterbox avoidance. These things can be indicative of many different medical issues in kitties, so take your furry buddy to the vet right away if you notice anything wrong.

Keeping Kitty Content

Your feline pal won’t understand what’s happening to her, and she may get quite scared and upset. Just do what you can to comfort her. Simply talking to Fluffy and petting her can help soothe her. (Note: Always be very gentle whenever you pick an older cat up or put her down.) Keeping your kitty on a set schedule for meals and playtime will also help with this. Many cats just feel safer with that sort of stability. (Fluffy can still manage scheduling her daily napping routine herself.)

Stimulation

Mental stimulation is just as important for cats as it is for people. Playing can help keep your feline buddy’s mind healthy. Kitties really have to focus to land those tricky pounces! Get into the habit of playing with Fluffy every day. Just keep a laser pointer near the spot you relax in at night. Birdwatching can also offer your furry pal stimulation.

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