Elder Cats & Mental Decline

As our felines get better cat health care and live indoors more, they are experiencing a greater lifespan. It’s not as uncommon anymore for cats to live into their twenties. Having your kitty around longer is great, but the downside is with the longer lives cats may experience more age-related cat health problems like arthritis, hearing loss, vision loss, kidney disease and a decline in their mental state. A mental decline may also be referred to as Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS).

Although not all cats will have symptoms of CDS, it is estimated that almost half of those over the age of sixteen will exhibit one or more behavior problem related to age.

Possible symptoms of feline CDS include:

  • Change in sleep cycles – It’s common for older cats to sleep more but cats with CDS will sleep a lot more. Or they might sleep more than normal during the day then be restless at night.
  • May seem confused or disoriented – Cats with this syndrome may seem dazed or lost, they may pace, get caught in tight or strange places, or sit and face a corner or wall for a long period of time looking confused.
  • Crying – Some cats will cry out. You’ll notice the cry have a different tone than the normal meow you’ve been accustom to. Remember if they cry in or near the litter box it could be a feline urinary tract infection or bowel condition that needs medical attention.
  • Change in the interaction with family – Some cats become much less interactive, they may not want the same attention or the same amount of petting. They may stop greeting you, or be less interested in that old ritual. Sometimes they won’t recognize family members or other pets in the household.
  • Stop using the litter box – Some cats will stop using the litter box. Remember this can be a sign of another cat illness, so that needs to be ruled out before coming to the conclusion it’s just an age-related cat behavior.

Cats that exhibit these symptoms may have another cat health problem and that always need to be ruled out first. But if your veterinarian can’t find a medical reason for your elder cat’s behaviors, it may be feline CDS.