Cats, like people and dogs, can develop dementia as they get older. However, the symptoms of dementia can mimic those of other common medical conditions so it can be difficult to tell if your cat is affected.
Here are some of the most common signs your cat's mind is not working as well as it should, and the other medical conditions that can cause similar symptoms.
1. He stops using his litter tray. Another potential cause of this behavior is urinary tract disease, which can be very serious.
2. He no longer grooms himself. This can also be due to arthritis in the back which can make it difficult for him to turn around and lick his fur.
3. He meows a lot more. Again, there are other causes of this behavior including pain and hyperthyroidism.
4. He may lose interest in food, and sleep a lot more than normal. These are very vague symptoms and on their own, they can also be caused by such diseases as kidney disease or cancer.
5. His behavior may change, in that he may become more aggressive. Sometimes this can be caused by pain.
Dementia is a diagnosis of exclusion. This means that you need to rule out any other cause of your cat's symptoms before you decide that dementia is the cause of his problems.
This involves a full clinical examination by your vet. Your cat may have other symptoms that could suggest that he has another disease. For example, lethargy and loss of appetite can occur with kidney disease, but he will probably be drinking a lot more water than usual. If he isn't grooming himself, your vet may detect a sore area in his spine that could be affecting his mobility.
Blood tests will also be needed to see what is happening on the inside of his body. If your vet suspects pain or arthritis as a cause of your cat'ts behavior, they may also recommend an x-ray or ultrasound.
Treatment of Dementia
There are treatments that can reduce your cat's symptoms and help him enjoy life a bit more. Specific prescription diets containing antioxidants are effective, as are drugs that your vet can prescribe.
Cats at the best of times often don't adapt well to changes, and your cat with dementia may not recognize his usual environment. This can be very stressful for both him and you. It is worth trying Feliway pheromones to reduce his stress and help him to feel more relaxed.
Although the symptoms of dementia in cats can be reduced, the condition can't be cured and it is progressive. With the help of your veterinarian, your elderly cat can enjoy his senior years for longer without having to deal with the unpleasant effects of this disease.
Article courtesy Dr Rosie Brown BVSc (Hons)
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