Senile Moments in Felines

What is CDS in Cats?
As your kitty ages, you may unknowingly accept symptoms of senility as par for the course of aging, however feline cognitive dysfunction syndrome is now classified as a medical condition. A sad but true statistic is that 50% of cats older than 15 years of age tend to suffer from some degree of dementia, otherwise known as CDS.

Feline CDS is caused by the production of a wax-like protein sediment (beta amyloid) in the brain. The syndrome is associated to Alzheimer’s disease in humans as they both display similar physical and behavioural characteristics.

Symptoms:

Disorientation

  • appears confused and lost
  • doesn’t remember people or places that were once familiar to them
  • roams mindlessly
  • becomes trapped in corners
  • gets lost in their once familiar home

Changes in Social Interactions

  • withdraws from attention
  • social relations with other animals change
  • doesn’t greet family members like they once did
  • disregard for meal times/appetite loss
  • no longer grooms themselves

Changes in Sleep Cycles

  • sleep cycles are either reversed or interrupted

House Soiling

  • unable to recall litter box training
  • unable to recall where the litter box is located
  • unable to recall what to do once in the litter box

Compulsive Behaviour

  • wails for no apparent reason
  • paces continuously
  • mindlessly licks objects
  • experiences tremors
  • restlessness and/or anxiety

Diagnosing CDS
Diagnosing CDS is more challenging than one would expect. CDS takes on symptoms similar to that of other diseases such as arthritis, kidney disease, deafness, blindness, brain tumors or hyperthyroidism, therefore these conditions must first be ruled out before CDS can be accurately diagnosed.

Treatment
Unfortunately, there is no cure for CDS. However, your veterinarian may prescribe certain medications and behavioural therapy to increase your cat’s cognitive function and slow down any associated decline.

Feed your kitty a wholesome diet enriched with antioxidants, vitamin E, beta carotene and essential fatty acids.

Rearrange your home environment to better accommodate your cat’s condition, such as:

  • placing numerous food and water bowls as well as litter boxes around the home so they are more accessible to your kitty
  • adhering to regular feeding times so your kitty’s expectations to a certain routine are met
  • replacing old litter trays with wider, more shallow rims so your kitty can access them easily. Using sand-like litter is also gentler on their sensitive aging paw pads
  • ensuring any changes to their environment are done incrementally so to avoid your kitty from developing unnecessary anxiety and stress
  • preparing soft and cosy resting spots throughout the home, preferably with a ramp or stairs so your kitty can easily access their numerous safe havens
  • imparting as much love that your cat desires but don’t smother them as this may agitate or stress them out

Prevention
Studies have proven that by physically and mentally stimulating your cat from an early age, you are able to prevent or even offset the negative effects of dementia by keeping their brain young and active. Try some of the following to stimulate your kitty:

  • Provide your cat with mentally-engaging entertainment such as placing bird feeders and bird baths outside your windows for your cat’s amusement.
  • Cat trees are a great source for climbing, discovering and resting.
  • By teaching your cat to walk on a leash, you’re able to expose them to an array of new opportunities, places and discoveries.
  • Food-incentive treats are a terrific way to teach your cat new tricks that stimulate both their mind and body.
  • Disperse limited amounts of cat food around the home in bowls so your kitty is encouraged to seek the food.
  • Puzzle toys reward the cat for their interest by releasing treats. This behaviour imitates that of felines’ natural hunting tendencies and will keep your kitty stimulated both mentally and physically.

Feline senility can be a very traumatic experience, not only for you, but your cat too. Remember to continuously invigorate and entertain your kitty throughout their life so their bodies remain agile and able and their minds sharp. When your cat reaches their “geriatric” years, it’s essential to realise that undesired actions are unintentional on their part and they too, are undergoing stress and frustrations, if not more, than what you are, so acceptance, patience and compassion are key.

Written for inFURmation
by Taliah Williamson

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Disclaimer: The information produced by Infurmation is provided for general and educational purposes only and does not constitute any legal, medical or other professional advice on any subject matter. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Always seek the advice of your vet or other qualified health care provider prior to starting any new diet or treatment and with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you suspect that your pet has a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider.

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Disclaimer: The information produced by Infurmation is provided for general and educational purposes only and does not constitute any legal, medical or other professional advice on any subject matter. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Always seek the advice of your vet or other qualified health care provider prior to starting any new diet or treatment and with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you suspect that your pet has a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider.