Cats Can Develop Dementia Too! Let’s Check Our Beloved Cats’ Problematic Behaviors!
As a cat enters its senior years, the owner may become more aware of various illnesses and desire to spend a considerable amount of time with the feline. Similar to humans, as cats age, their immune system becomes weaker and they are more susceptible to health issues. The question of whether cats can develop “dementia” as their cognitive abilities decline has likely arisen. The following looks into the potential symptoms that may occur if a cat experiences dementia and the preventive measures that can be taken.
✨ What is feline dementia?
It is possible for cats to experience “dementia” as they age, just as humans can. Although not all cats will develop it, with the advancement in pet food and veterinary care resulting in an increased average lifespan for cats, there is a possibility that any cat could be at risk. If a cat is suffering from dementia, the following symptoms may be present:
❂ Symptoms of dementia
Dementia is not a specific medical condition, but rather a condition in which the brain function is diminished by an underlying illness or disability, leading to a range of symptoms that disrupt daily life.
As people age, it is common for them to experience memory decline and forget names, but what about when it comes to cats with dementia?
In cats, it is generally indicated that “they will display a change from their normal behavior.”
For pet owners who find it difficult to determine if their cat is suffering from dementia, close observation of their behavior on a daily basis can help detect even slight changes that may signal discomfort. Some behaviors to look out for include:
● Abnormal changes in appetite
● Inability to use the litter box
● Changes in personality
● Vocalizing or meowing during nighttime
Regular eating patterns and use of the litter box can serve as indicators of a cat’s health, so it is important to keep an eye on these behaviors.
There may be changes in appetite, such as a sudden change in food preferences or not eating, or the cat may become insistent on being fed immediately after finishing a meal. Inconsistencies in using the litter box or other inappropriate behaviors may also occur.
Some cats may also exhibit changes in personality, such as losing interest in previously enjoyed activities or becoming aggressive.
Other symptoms may include meowing loudly at certain times of the day, becoming stuck in narrow spaces, aimlessly wandering, and more.
In the early stages of dementia, these behaviors may only partially match these symptoms, but as the condition progresses, it is crucial to observe the cat closely on a daily basis for new symptoms that may emerge.
❂ Causes of Cognitive Impairment
Cats with cognitive impairment still have many unknown aspects and research is ongoing to determine if it is the same process as in humans, if it is caused by a specific neurological disorder, or if stress is a direct cause.
It is widely recognized as an age-related brain disorder, but as the aging process leads to a decrease in neurons and a shrinking of the brain, resulting in a decline in cognitive function.
Additionally, there are age-related diseases that are common in elderly cats and may have similar symptoms to cognitive impairment, so it is possible that it may be overlooked.
When a senior cat enters its later stages, it is important to be aware of illnesses such as hyperthyroidism, hypertension, joint diseases, brain tumors, and neurological disorders and to be mindful of any hidden cognitive impairment.
✨ What kind of cats are susceptible?
Cats with cognitive impairment are still unclear, but what kind of cats are susceptible to cognitive impairment?
❂ Cats susceptible to cognitive impairment
Cats that are prone to cognitive impairment are typically senior cats over the age of 7.
Cats have a tendency towards being cautious and nervous and are susceptible to stress, which can lead to an increase of oxidative substances in their brain and contribute to cognitive impairment. Therefore, daily stress can increase the need for attention in these felines.
❂ Behaviors that suggest dementia
In contrast to humans and dogs, cats with dementia typically don’t exhibit typical symptoms. However, as a cat ages and enters its senior stage, it is crucial to maintain a lifestyle that doesn’t put strain on the cat, given that the cat’s brain function begins to deteriorate.
We have outlined the behaviors that can be associated with symptoms of dementia. To summarize, the following is a list of behaviors in a cat that may indicate dementia. If you notice any of these behaviors in your cat, it is advisable to consult a veterinarian promptly.
[Cat Dementia Checklist]
- Alteration in food preference
- Repeated asking for food soon after eating
- Increased frequency of bathroom accidents
- Rise in excessive meowing and crying at night
- Wandering aimlessly without reason
- Inability to leave confined spaces
- Exhibition of aggressive behavior
- Self-harmful behavior, such as excessive licking or biting of the same spot
- Lack of affection towards the owner
- Failure to respond to the owner’s call
- Loss of interest in playing.
✨ Prevention of Cat Dementia
Dementia is a difficult disease to notice, so it is best to prevent it from happening as much as possible.
Although the aging of the brain is inevitable, it is possible to some extent to prevent dementia by making daily life adjustments, so why not try the following preventive measures.
Although they are cats that sleep a lot, by exercising, the brain is moderately stimulated and various functions are activated.
Avoid having the owner himself have the idea of “I don’t have to play because I am old,” and always create an environment that stimulates the beloved cat and prevent lack of exercise, so that they can live a healthy and long life, both physically and mentally.
Recently, it has become known that choosing food that suits your age is what leads to longevity, as it is expected that the quality of food will improve.
For the prevention of dementia, it is recommended to choose cat food that contains “Omega-3 fatty acids” and “antioxidants.”
Because it may be difficult to purchase commercially, it is also recommended to consult with a veterinary hospital.
Communication with the owner is more important than anything for the prevention of dementia.
To prevent the beloved cat from forgetting the presence of the owner, make an effort to speak to them every day and to show affection with gentle touches, so they can feel the joy of being pampered and cared for.
If the relationship is firmly established, communication can also lead to stress reduction, so make sure to have daily interactions.
✨ Treatment for cat dementia
Regarding feline dementia, there is currently no treatment that promises a full recovery due to the many unresolved aspects of the condition.
One approach to relieve symptoms is through the use of drugs that enhance dopamine levels, a brain hormone, or incorporating pet supplements rich in EPA and DHA which aid in the transmission of nerve signals in the brain.
As the progression of dementia symptoms occurs, symptomatic treatments such as pain management that corresponds to the symptoms, or the administration of calming agents and sleeping aids to stabilize the mind, are commonly employed.
✨ Is there anything that can be done for a cat’s dementia?
The diagnosis of cat dementia can be challenging and pet owners may not be able to determine with certainty if their pet is suffering from it, even if they suspect so. It is crucial to avoid making a diagnosis based solely on personal observations and to keep in mind that cats can also develop other illnesses.
Early detection is crucial, as there is currently no cure for dementia and creating a calm environment can help reduce stress.
As a cat enters its senior years, it is recommended to have multiple health checkups each year, not only for physical health but also to consult with a veterinarian regarding any problematic behaviors in daily life, thus allowing for an early detection of dementia.
The desire of pet owners is to live with their cherished cats for as long as possible, but with age comes the decline of various functions which is an unavoidable reality. To ensure a high quality of life and minimize stress for the cat, pet owners aim to create an environment that allows for a full life.
It is crucial for pet owners to pay close attention to their cat’s behavior, so that any abnormalities can be detected quickly. In the event that signs of dementia are present, it is recommended to seek the advice of a regular veterinary hospital and determine the best course of treatment and care.
Once dementia has taken hold, it becomes a long-term issue and pet owners should strive to cope with it in a proficient manner without becoming overly stressed.