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Senile Dementia in Cats

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: February 22, 2018
Senile Dementia in Cats

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People who have a cat at home will disagree with the popular idea that cats are unsociable and overly independent animals, as these are not characteristics inherent to their real behaviour.

A domesticated cat lives on average 15 years and during this time the emotional bond that can form with their owner is certainly very strong. Furthermore, accompanying your pets throughout their various stages of life and during old age, comforts them as well ourselves.

During aging, multiple changes in your cat can be observed and some diseases are unfortunately associated with old age. This AnimalWised article will talk about symptoms and treatment of senile dementia in cats.


  1. What is dementia?
  2. Symptoms of senile dementia in cats
  3. Treatment of senile dementia in cats
  4. Caring for your cat with senile dementia

What is dementia?

Senile dementia in cats known as feline cognitive dysfunction, which refers to the capabilities of cognition/understanding the environment. Their vision of the environment starts to deplete from approximately 10 years of age.

In cats over 15 years old this condition is very common and the manifestation thereof comprises of a variety of symptoms ranging from joint problems to hearing problems.

This condition reduces the cat's quality of life, so it is important that you remain vigilant in understanding this disorder so you can help improve your pet's life.

Senile Dementia in Cats - What is dementia?

Symptoms of senile dementia in cats

A cat affected by dementia may experience one or more of the symptoms shown below:

  • Confusion: It is the most predominant symptom, the cat is seen wandering around confused as they may not remember where their food or litter tray is.
  • Changes in behaviour: The cat wants more attention or on the other hand becomes aggressive.
  • Increased meowing: When the cat meows repeatedly during the night they may be expressing confusion in the dark, which causes nervousness and anxiety.
  • Changes in sleep patterns: The cat shows loss of interest and spends much of the day sleeping and instead roams around at night.
  • Changes in cleaning habits: Cats are very clean animals that spend much of their day grooming themselves, cats with dementia have lost interest in cleaning themselves and you can see a less shiny and well looked after coat.

If you notice any of these symptoms in your cat it is essential that you go to the vet as soon as possible.

Senile Dementia in Cats - Symptoms of senile dementia in cats

Treatment of senile dementia in cats

The treatment of senile dementia in cats is not used to reverse the situation, because unfortunately this is not possible and neurological damage from old age cannot be reversed in any way. Drug treatment in these cases is intended to stop the loss of cognition and prevent it from getting worse.

A drug containing the active ingredient selegiline is used, but this does not imply that it is suitable for all cats, in fact, only the vet can assess in each case whether it is necessary to implement pharmacotherapy.

Senile Dementia in Cats - Treatment of senile dementia in cats

Caring for your cat with senile dementia

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, you can do lots at home to improve your cat's quality of life, let's see how:

  • Minimise changes in the cat's environment, for example, do not change the arrangement of furniture
  • Reserve a room where your cat can relax at all times when you have visitors, as excessive stimulation in their environment isn't good for them.
  • Do not move its accessories. If they go outside, supervise them and when they re-enter make sure their space is left in the same way, so you won't disorient them.
  • Make play sessions more regular but reduce the duration. It is very important for your cat to stay exercised, within their abilities of old age
  • Clean your cat with a soft bristled brush to help them keep their coat in good condition
  • Place some ramps down if your cat cannot access the usual places where they like to spend their time.
Senile Dementia in Cats - Caring for your cat with senile dementia

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Senile Dementia in Cats, we recommend you visit our Other health problems category.

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Senile Dementia in Cats