THE AGING CAT – WHAT TO DO WHEN SENILITY SETS IN!
Does your old cat pace around the house aimlessly, yowl at night or has he started missing the litter tray? He may be suffering from a form of dementia called Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS)
As our pets age they too, like humans, may experience psychological degeneration that can cause behavioural and personality changes. Listed
below are some of the common symptoms you may observe that could indicate your cat has a problem.
Many old cats with CDS appear confused as to
where they are or seem to forget what they were about to do. They may no longer greet you when you come home or be as affectionate as the used to be.
DISORIENTATION AND LOSS OF AGILITY
CDS cats often stop in their tracks and yowl loudly or get 'stuck' in corners, appearing lost in what should be a familiar environment. These cats can be shaky when jumping onto furniture etc. or even lose their balance and fall.
You may find that your old cat sleeps more during the day but then prowls around restlessly at night. These cats are often vocal at night and keep the whole household awake!
Your cat may suddenly start soiling in the house. They may simply be 'missing' the litter tray or completely 'forget' where the litter is and relieve themselves in an inappropriate place.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
As with an aging parent, your cat deserves and needs your care and attention. Before you assume your cat is a geriatric mental case take your cat to the vet. If you recognise any of the above symptoms, a general check-up is essential as there are various other conditions that can cause similar changes to your cats behaviour and these should be ruled out first.
Just because your cat is old doesn't mean it
can't play! Mental stimulation can help keep
your cat's brain active so perhaps a new toy
or even a cardboard box or a crumpled paper bag will help maintain cognitive function or slow its decline. If food is always available try creating a new feeding routine so your cat has something to look forward to during the day.
CREATE A SECURE ENVIRONMENT
Emotional and physical security are equally important to your old cat. If you find your kitty is having difficulty getting to certain parts of the house safely (i.e.; going upstairs, or jumping out of windows), try to block access to that area when you are not around. Many of these cats find great comfort just being around their owner and may become distressed and yowl if you simply go into another room. Loss of hearing is also common in old cats which may well account for loud vocalization, so pick him up and take him with you! That way he gets attention and knows exactly where you are!
NIGHTY NIGHT Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z
If your cat is keeping you awake at night, try limiting his daytime naps by interacting with him or waking him gently. At night put your cat to bed and stroke or massage him to help relax him. The use of pheromone collars or sprays may also help. If things are bad speak to your vet. He can rule out the possibility of your cat being restless because of pain and may be able to prescribe medication to help your cat sleep
If your cat is used to a litter tray and things have gone pear shaped, try putting down a tray (or multiple trays) where the accident/s have happened. You may find that your cat is just having difficulty climbing into the tray and you simply need to purchase one with low sides for easy access.
As pet owners, we understand that the nutritional requirements of our animals change at various stages of their life. That is why it is important to feed your aging cat a superior quality senior food or prescription diet that incorporates the use of antioxidants, usually in the form of Omega-3 fatty acids, as these can make a noticeable difference.
Remember we will all get old. Some of us will be lucky and stay mentally alert and others will suffer from some form of dementia. It is in our autumn years that we need the support and understanding of those who care for us - your cat is no different.
So, if you think your 'kitty' has gone 'batty' get him checked out with your vet and help him enjoy his retirement!
Article by Kenilworth Veterinary Clinic