Behavior and Aging in Older Cats

The behavior of older cats may be due to aging, technically known as feline cognitive dysfunction. Signs of kitten aging can be vague and mimic other illnesses or behavioral conditions, such as feline separation anxiety or petting aggression. These kittens, generally over fifteen years old, often develop litter box problems.

In the past, these symptoms would be brushed off as a normal part of aging, but cognitive dysfunction in cats is a medical condition. Cats with cognitive impairment develop amyloid wax protein deposits (beta amyloid) in the brain. This can affect pet cats just as Alzheimer’s disease affects people.

Affected pets often seem to have forgotten how to perform normal activities. Look for:

lose the way

  • wandering aimlessly
  • Behavioural disorientation and confusion
  • Not knowing familiar people or places
  • “trapped” in a corner
  • lost at home

interactive change

  • stop greeting family
  • avoid or dislike petting
  • loss of interest in attracting attention
  • Interaction changes with other pets

sleep changes

  • Awake and active at night
  • The sleep cycle is disrupted or reversed

house dirty

  • Dumpster training is forgotten
  • Can’t find trash can
  • Not sure what to do in the box once

Anxiety, fear, or compulsive behavior

  • suffer tremors
  • Howling and crying for no reason
  • repetitive pacing
  • licking the floor or object

Treating aging cats

Sadly, there is no cure for cognitive dysfunction in our pets. Some cats can help, at least temporarily, with medication.poison Selegiline hydrochloride (trade name Anipryl) is an FDA-approved treatment for cognitive impairment in dogs. Veterinary behaviorists Benjamin Hart, Ph.D., Kelly Moffat, Ph.D., Gary Landsberger, Ph.D., and others studying cognitive impairment in felines, found that Anipryl also helped some cats suffer from feline aging.

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About one-third of cats did not benefit from the drug, but another third did improve their behavioral problems. For example, a cat may remember how to find a food bowl and stop howling.

This last 30% of the medication in cats from aging actually turned back the flow and significantly reversed symptoms. The cat’s appetite returns to normal, the litter box is wrongly resolved, and the cat recognizes his beloved owner again.

Improvement doesn’t last forever. Eventually, the drug will no longer be effective, and the cat will again develop signs of kitten aging behavior. Add weeks, months, maybe a year, although the owners offer great comfort and help them come to terms with the eventual disastrous loss.

Prevent old cats from aging

Some people who have never lived with a special cat may say, “Fifteen is a good age,” but the rest of us know that it’s never long enough. The old saying “use it or lose it” applies to pet brains as well. Research on dogs’ cognitive function proves that problem-solving activities like skill training and educational toys keep them sharp, connected to the world around them, and even extend their lifespans.

The researchers also believe that mental stimulation greatly improved cognitive function in aging cats. Keep your cat both physically active and mentally engaged throughout their life to keep their brains young. This can slow or even stop the progression of changes in aging. Here are some things you can do to keep your aging cat fit physically and mentally:

  • Offering brain-stimulating entertainment. Viewing fun outside the plaza bird feeder and tub windows. There are lots of hidden kittens hanging out, climbing mountains, and exploring trees that spot cats offer.
  • Teach your cat to walk on a leash.
  • Bribe food-motivated cats with tasty treats to learn tricks; for example, call “Fluffy!” and then turn on the can opener, and there’s a treat reward when the cat runs to you.
  • Release educational toys that reward cats’ interest by dispensing treatments. This can mimic feline hunting behavior and keep cats entertained and mentally sharp.
  • Instead of serving a large bowl of food, try to hide a small amount of dishes all over the house. Different levels provide them so cats must hunt for food.
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We don’t know how long our special kitten will be with us. Once they reach old age and grow for a short time, their friendship becomes even more precious. Providing your cat with mental and physical health helps to stay connected to life and us for as long as possible during their golden years.

If you suspect your pet is sick, call your veterinarian right away. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian as they have examined your pet, understand the pet’s health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.

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Behavior and Aging in Older Cats
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