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What you need to know about feline senile dementia

   by yunus on 14 Feb 2019 |
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We all know some people experience mental decline with age, but many pet owners are surprised to learn that cats can also be affected by feline senile dementia.​

Just like humans, cats experience changes to their physical and mental health as they age. Among these are feline senile dementia, which affects brain function in some senior cats. Recognizing the signs of feline senile dementia in your pet is important, as knowing the symptoms can help you make lifestyle changes that slow the progress of the disease and increase your pet’s quality of life.

Much like their human counterparts, our cats can experience dementia as they age. Also known as cognitive dysfunction system, or CDS, this impairment to the mental processes can manifest itself in many ways, from affecting a cat’s ability to learn and remember to altering his awareness of his surroundings. In some cases, cats experiencing CDS become anxious or afraid, leading to the seemingly gratuitous yowling observed in some older cats. Often, pet owners are perplexed when symptoms of CDS first appear, but there are a few signs that can clue you in when your cat is experiencing the onset of feline senile dementia. Look for changes in his grooming habits and especially an unkempt coat, shifts in his sleeping patterns or overall lethargy, increased irritability or anxiety, fluctuations in Kitty’s activity levels, general disorientation or confusion, and increased instances of incessant yowling. It’s important to note that these can all be symptoms of a host of other feline health concerns, so it’s important to take your cat to the veterinarian to rule out arthritis, hearing problems and other causes behind your cat’s behavioral changes if he’s exhibiting symptoms of CDS.

Once your vet has ruled out other issues, you can begin taking special care of your pet knowing he’s experiencing the onset feline senile dementia. While there is no cure for CDS, you can help your pet maintain his quality of life with a few simple changes. Keep up his brain and motor function by ensuring Kitty gets plenty of physical and mental exercise each day. Playing with your cat each day has been shown to slow the onset of symptoms, so invest in a fishing pole or other interactive toy for your pet. As a general rule, cats do not like change, and this applies doubly to pets experiencing feline senile dementia. Try to move your cat’s food and water bowls, litter box, and even your furniture as little as possible to reduce stress on your pet. Likewise, it helps to feed Kitty at the same time each day. If your pet ventures outdoors, try to limit his time outside to reduce the chances he’ll get lost, too.

These small changes should serve you and your cat well into his senior years. However, pets experience severe cases of feline senile dementia may need extra help. If your pet is having trouble finding his water dish or litter box, consider adding more around the house. Take your cat to the vet for checkups more often – about twice a year – to ensure no other health problems. While it can be difficult to care for an aging pet, making a few simple modifications to your cat’s daily routine can help combat the impacts of CDS, ensuring he stays happy and healthy well into old age.

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