Cognitive Disorders, Causes of Forgetfulness
Drs. Foster & Smith Educational Staff

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.

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

Strange vocalizations

Changes in sleeping/waking habits

Not recognizing familiar people

Senior Checklist
Worried about your senior cat's health? Contact your veterinarian if your older cat exhibits any of the following:

Tires easily
Loss of appetite
Weight loss
Vomits often
Difficulty swallowing
Swollen gums
Bleeding gums
Frequent sneezing
Nasal discharge
Greasy skin
Offensive body odor
Sores that do not heal
Strains/coughs when
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.

Recommended Senior Cat Products

Drinkwell Cat Fountain
The sound of water reminds
older cats to drink.

Signature Series Adult
Cat Canned Food

Soft food is easy on
older cat mouths.

Related Articles: