|IT IS INEVITABLE that our cats grow older. And with the excellent veterinary care now available, our pets are living longer and longer. Cats are considered senior at about 7 years of age. However, it is no longer unusual for cats to live into their late teens.
In cats, as in humans, aging can mean loss of memory and other changes including excessive meowing, wandering, hiding, and confusion. This may indicate a condition called "cognitive disorder."
If your senior cat exhibits any of the following behaviors, consider that she may have cognitive disorder and see your veterinarian.
WHAT CAN YOU DO FOR YOUR SENIOR?
| Forgetting to use the litterbox
Confused by familiar surroundings
Changes in eating or drinking habits
Changes in self-grooming habits
Staring into space or at walls frequently
| Excessively startled when awoken suddenly
Changes in sleeping/waking habits
Not recognizing familiar people
See your veterinarian twice a year and get your cat a senior checkup to ensure that you catch any age-related problems.
It is important to be sure that any behavioral changes in older cats are not due to underlying diseases, such as hyperthyroidism, hypertension, arthritis, decreased vision from glaucoma or retinal disease, etc.
Once other medical causes have been ruled out, your veterinarian may diagnose cognitive disorder. In some cases, anti-anxiety medication may be helpful. Your veterinarian can tell you whether this may be an option for your cat.
Cats are creatures of habit, and a stable, predictable, stress-free environment is especially essential for a cat with cognitive disorder. You may also need to provide extra litter boxes and offer canned food that has been warmed, if necessary, to make it more palatable. Use an automatic water fountain so she can hear the water, to remind her to drink.
Your cat may need extra help with grooming now. Brush her regularly, clean her ears and clip her nails. Grooming your cat can help her feel like herself again and has the added benefit of helping you bond with your cat. Make sure that your cat has as little stress as possible in her life. Your faithful feline friend deserves the best you can give her.