Dementia in Cats - 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.