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    Dementia in Cats - Does Your Cat Have Alzheimer's?

    Does Your Cat Have Alzheimer's

    Cat dementia is something nobody likes to see. For many of us, it happens to our loved ones, and having to sit by idly as their mental state digresses is one of the most painful things to watch. It makes you feel powerless. Pets provide a degree of comfort during such a hard time, so the last thing you expect or ever would want to happen is for the same disease to harm them too. 

    Cats, as one of the most popular pets to have around the house, live for around 15 years on average; in many cases longer. But this short-lived lifespan makes the disease even harder to cope with since it’ll set in sooner, giving us less time to enjoy the bonds with our cats that we build up over the years. 

    If you’re a cat owner, you’ll need to be aware of feline dementia and how it’ll change the lives of both you and your pet. That means preparing your home, enhancing the level of care you provide, and getting to grips with the behavioral changes you’re going to witness. Living with a senile cat isn’t easy but it’s something all owners should be ready to accept. 

    What is Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome and is it Different from Alzheimer’s?

    Cognitive dysfunction syndrome, or CDS, in cats and dogs is similar in many aspects to Alzheimer’s, something we all know occurs in humans. The disease directly affects the brain as a consequence of aging and leads to a regression in awareness, learning abilities, and ultimately, memory. It attacks the brain much in the same was as dementia does in humans and leads to a lot of the same symptoms, such as incontinence, unusual vocalizations, and confusion, among others.

    Behavior Changes to Look Out For

    Signs of dementia in elderly cats can often be misinterpreted as behaviors typically associated with old age. Geriatric cats certainly don’t behave the same as they used to, and the way they’re acting could be a sign of something more serious. Besides the behaviors mentioned above, these are a few others you should keep an eye on.

    Appetite Changes: Any cat owner knows how much they respect a decent meal and how quickly their weight can shift for the worse. If you’re noticing a change in their appetite and that they’re eating much less, ultimately losing weight, then this could be one of the key signs that something is wrong, and not just CDS. 

    Abrupt Sleeping Patterns: The average cat sleeps for two-thirds of its lifetime. Though their sleep works differently to ours, they have no problem getting their heads down. That being said, there are plenty of reasons for a cat losing sleep, even down to a lack of comfort in their environment. But for older cats, there’s a chance that, coupled with other symptoms, it’s a sign of cat Alzheimer’s.

    Anxiety: Not to be confused with separation anxiety, any outward display of stress or fear from your cat that can’t be chalked up to environmental changes is a sign of CDS. Be sure to monitor this as it progresses as it could be a brief spell. But if it continues, it’s time to take your cat to the vet. 

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    The Symptoms of Feline Alzheimer’s

    There are various cat dementia symptoms, with many mentioned already. Read on to get a closer look at them. 

    Incontinence: Cats are very particular about their bathroom habits and often come under great stress when things aren’t to the standard they like. Other than for disobedience, lack of cleaning, and territory issues, they’ll always use their littler tray. A cat that can’t control its bowels or is showing a drastic change in this area could well be a sign that something’s up. 

    Making Strange Noises: Cats tend to only make noises with humans around, and we all know what sort of sounds to expect. But a cat with CDS will randomly scream and yelp seemingly for no reason at all and at any time of the day. You might hear it through the night as your cat’s sleeping pattern will be affected too.

    Memory Loss: This is probably the easiest symptom to identify and also serves as the most painful reminder of your cat’s illness. You’ll start to notice a build-up in anxiety and confusion due to a lack of familiarity with your cat’s surroundings and of course, you. All you can do is try and make their life as comfortable as possible at this point.

    Forms of Care 

    Of course, there’s no real treatment since the disease is both incurable and irreversible. All you can do as an owner is to increase the degree of care they receive. There are various ways you can do this. 

    First, you’ll want to start by moving any kind of potential danger out of reach and also making the things that enrich your cat’s life more accessible. You’ll want to try and maintain normal behavior as much as possible, so make sure your cat continues to exercise and keep their brain active with cognitive stimulation.

    Your cat may be less inclined to take care of its fur and clean itself, so it’ll help to learn as much as you can about cat grooming to be able to help out when it’s needed. Also, make sure to use raised feeding bowls and large uncovered litter boxes for easy and safe access.


    No one wants to hear the dreaded news that their cat has CDS but as an owner, it’s time to step up and make sure their last stage of life is as comfortable as possible. In order to provide the right level of care, you really should have a cat health insurance policy in place. That way, you’re making sure that the correct diagnosis and support you’ll need for any health complications down the road are in place.