Senile cat: what are the signs?


Senile dementia is among the diseases of aging in cats. If the animal loses its bearings, exhibits behavioral problems, becomes sluggish, sleeps little or too much when it begins to age, this requires a consultation with the veterinarian. Let’s take a look at all the signs that a cat is or already is senile.

Senility in cats: symptoms that should alert

A handler may start to worry if their cat exhibits one or more of the following symptoms:

  • He recently adopted strange attitudes,
  • It becomes messy: this is not limited to an exceptional “accident” since the cat defecates anywhere in the house on a daily basis and even more generally in or in the immediate vicinity of the basket in which it sleeps while he has always used his litter box or asked to go outside to do his business,
  • He seems to no longer recognize his master or other members of his host family for short periods that multiply over time,
  • His eyes are vague as if nothing existed around him anymore,
  • He is disoriented,
  • He seems to ignore his environment so well that returning from walks is problematic: he no longer comes home, which his master may mistakenly take for a runaway,
  • It no longer cleans itself, whereas the cat is an animal that normally spends a lot of time washing itself, but we can also see exacerbated licking in senile cats,
  • He jumps for nothing,
  • His sleep is disturbed, the cat sleeps little and wanders around the house during the night or on the contrary sleeps much longer than before, sometimes up to 20 hours a day,
  • Its behavior is changing, namely that a cat, until then quite indifferent, no longer lets go of its master, or a cuddly cat can become aggressive,
  • He suffers from eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia),
  • He meows frequently, especially at night,
  • There is a psychomotor slowing down.

Some of the manifestations of senility in cats are similar to those seen in humans with Alzheimer’s disease.

Senility in cats: what about behavioral aging diseases?

Whether aging is normal or pathological, major diseases are associated with it, namely:

  • The elderly cat hypersomnia syndrome especially when the little feline sleeps more than 20 hours a day, shows an obvious motor slowdown and becomes messy.
  • The involutional depression identified by specialists when the behavior as a whole is totally disorganized.
  • Confusional Syndrome, another disease associated with aging if it is caused by amyloid deposits.
  • Unipolar dysthymia is confirmed if a pathology is involved and the animal presents an alternation of normal behaviors and behavioral disorders.

It is therefore understandable that it is essential to consult a veterinarian at the slightest alert so that a health check-up is carried out as quickly as possible and that any underlying disease can be identified.

Why does the cat become senile?

Senility in cats without a pathological cause is generally due to so-called “normal” cerebral aging which occurs around the age of 11 or 12 years. The psychomotor slowdown that old age causes can be identified, for example, by an imprecision in the cat’s body language, its movements, a food disturbance, an extension or shortening of the duration of its sleep, a drop in its level of adaptability. . These phenomena like many others are quite normal. They can be explained by the production of free radicals, these being toxic for the neurons of the cat or any other living being for that matter.

But you should also know that many health problems make aging worse and increase the early onset of disorders that are linked to it. This is the case, among others, of chronic renal failure, a brain tumor, a dysfunction of one or other of the endocrine glands – in particular the thyroid – or the deprivation of a sense. such as sight or hearing. Cats suffering from osteoarthritis are also more particularly exposed to the risk of suffering from sometimes early aging disorders.

How to take care of a senile cat?

The best advice one can give to the owner of a senile cat is to do not leave the animal in its corner. On the contrary, it must be given special attention. An interaction with his master is essential to stimulate his awakening, his senses, his reflexes, and this inevitably involves play. It is very important to vary the activities in order to maintain the cognitive functions of his cat thanks to the stimulation. At the same time, it is essential to ensure that the cat’s territory is well organized to limit the risks of disturbance. For example, you avoid changing your bowl at any time or even your litter and basket …

These actions are in addition to the various possible treatments prescribed by the animal health specialist. They can be psychotropic drugs or – in the case of behavioral diseases – behavioral nutraceuticals very useful for old cats. The treatment protocol is decided on a case-by-case basis, and if necessary integrates the treatment of an organic disease which has been confirmed by the diagnosis and which may be the cause of senility. To increase the well-being of the elderly senile cat, one can also resort to pheromones, but always on the advice of the veterinarian or animal behaviorist.

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