If you’ve been feeling as if your geriatric kitty is getting senile, there may be more to it than you realize. Age-related Feline Cognitive Dysfunction, also referred to as Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome, is the feline version of human Alzheimer’s disease. More than just the typical behavioral changes associated with age, cats with CDS can display symptoms such as increased vocalization, litter box issues, disorientation, pacing, restlessness, changes in relationships with family members, uncharacteristic avoidance of physical interaction, constipation, incontinence, irritability, among other possible symptoms.
If you suspect your cat is experiencing CDS an accurate diagnosis will need to be made by your veterinarian in order to rule out other possible underlying medical issues that could be the cause of the behavioral changes.
There is no cure for CDS but your veterinarian may prescribe medication that can slow the progression.
Helping a Cat with Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome
Keep your environment familiar, with as little stress as possible. You may need to increase the number of litter boxes to help make things as convenient as possible for your cat. Create stairways and easy access to his favorite perches and windows. If he yowls at night or appears disoriented, you might need to confine him to a smaller area of the house. With some cats who become disoriented at night when the house becomes quiet and dark, it helps to have them sleep in the bedroom with you or at least leave nightlights on and perhaps leave a radio playing as well.