Sunday, February 21, 2010

When Cats Have Senior Moments

Seems nine lives just aren't enough because cats, like people, are now living longer. Some kitties, especially indoor ones, can live well into their twenties. However, with a longer lifespan comes a greater risk of age-related conditions like vision loss, hearing loss, arthritis, kidney disease, and mental decline, which is known as Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS).
Although not inevitable, nearly half of all cats over 15 years of age suffer from at least one of the following behavior problems that are common to CDS:

Seems all mixed up. Cats with CDS may appear lost or dazed, pace aimlessly, sit for long periods facing a corner or wall, or get stuck in tight places.
Acts aloof. Although cats naturally become less interactive as they age, elderly cats with CDS may want way less -- or way more -- attention than usual. Some CDS kitties may no longer recognize family members.
Cries out loud. Noisy, incessant meowing, often at night.
Loses track of the potty. Some kitties with CDS may forget where the litter box is.
Takes nonstop siestas. Older cats may sleep longer, but CDS cats may sleep way more, or they may sleep more during the day and become restless at night.
Can CDS Be Prevented or Treated?

Research is pretty sparse, but one unpublished study suggests that supplementing a cat's diet with antioxidants may reduce cognitive impairment and that keeping kitty mentally and physically active may improve brain function or stymie decline in the first place. Although not approved for use in cats, certain "off label" drugs may improve symptoms of CDS, according to a small study. Talk to your vet about prevention, management, and treatment.

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