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Cognitive Decline in Senior Cats

October 17 2022

Did you know that cats can experience a decline in cognitive abilities as they age, just like people? Cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) is not uncommon in senior kitties. Read on as a vet discusses this condition below.


There’s no one cause for feline CDS; it appears to be age-related, for the most part. About a third of kitties between the ages of 11 and 14 show at least one behavior that is associated with CDS. With cats over 15 years old, that number increases to a whopping 50%. Of course, with pets living longer than ever, CDS cases are becoming more common.

Warning Signs

The signs of dementia in cats may be subtle at first. They may also be hard to read. Fluffy may forget where her litterbox is, get ‘stuck’ in a corner, or get lost on the way to the kitchen. She may also just seem to wander aimlessly. Some cats will meow to vocalize their distress and frustration. Others may clamor for attention, and follow their humans around like furry little shadows. There are also some more general red flags, such as reduced appetite, poor grooming, withdrawal, changes in eating and sleeping habits, unusual vocalizations, and litterbox avoidance. These things can be indicative of many different medical issues in kitties, so if you notice anything wrong, take your furry buddy to the vet right away.

Keeping Kitty Content

Your feline pal doesn’t understand what’s happening to her, and she may get quite upset and scared. Just do what you can to comfort her. Simply talking to Fluffy and petting her can help soothe her. (Note: Always be very gentle when you pick an older cat up or put her down.) Keeping your kitty on a set schedule for meals and playtime should also help with this. Many cats just feel safer with that sort of stability. (Fluffy can still manage scheduling her daily napping routine on her own.)


Just like with people, mental stimulation is important for cats. Playing can help keep your feline buddy’s mind healthy. Kitties really have to focus to land those tricky pounces! Get into the habit of playing with Fluffy on a daily basis. Just keep a laser pointer near the spot you relax in at night. Birdwatching can also offer your furry pal stimulation.

As your veterinary clinic, we are dedicated to keeping your pet happy and healthy. Contact us, your local animal clinic in Rialto, CA, anytime!

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