Your cat can exhibit a change in behavior at just about any time during their lives. Unfortunately, their risk for cognitive and physical deterioration increases as they get older. Let’s take a look at a common culprit for behavioral changes in aging cats, and how to deal with it.
Feline Cognitive Dysfunction in aging cats
Not unlike people, cats are known to suffer a decline in cognitive functioning as they age. Feline Cognitive Dysfunction (FCD) affects over 50% of cats aged 11-15 years, and over 80% of cats aged 16-20 years.
Some of the most common symptoms of FCD include reduced activity, disturbed sleep patterns, forgetting of previously learned habits, increased anxiety, and aggressive reactivity. The best way to handle an aging cat that is showing a change in normal behaviors is to understand what your furry friend is undergoing and deal with these changed behaviors in a loving and effective manner.
FCD: What to Look For
If your cat is exhibiting any of the following behaviors, it may be an indication that your aging cat is experiencing cognitive dysfunction:
- Memory and Learning: Inability to recognize familiar people or pets, elimination outside of the litterbox or in eating/sleeping areas.
- Disorientation and Confusion: Staring into space or fixating on an object, wandering aimlessly, inability to navigate around obstacles, getting lost in familiar locations.
- Social Behavior: Lowered or lost interest in greeting people/pets, disinterest in normal activities like playing or being pet.
- Decreased Activity: Grooms and eats less than normal, doesn’t explore or respond to things going on around him or her.
- Irritability and Anxiety: Restless, agitated, aggressive, increased vocalization (meowing, hissing, etc.).
- Sleep Schedule Changes: Difficulty with sleep, waking up throughout the night, sleeping more during the day, increased vocalization at night.
Cat owners often see behavioral changes in their feline family members and assume that the cause is simply old age. However, there are many treatable medical disorders in cats that can show themselves via behavioral changes. That’s why it’s important to report any changes in your cat’s behavior to your veterinarian, so that the actual cause may be determined and treated properly.
The Care Your Cat Needs as They Age
If your older cat has a behavioral issue and you’re not sure the cause or how to treat it, give us a call at Catonsville Cat Clinic. We offer wellness check-ups that will help us determine the health condition of your cat to help pinpoint the cause of their behavioral issue(s). If the behavior change isn’t due to a medical problem, we can work with you to pinpoint factors at home or changes in their daily life that may be leading to their discontent, discomfort, or aggravation.
We care for our feline patients as if they are our own, and we understand how behavioral issues in cats can be frustrating to deal with. The experts at Catonsville Cat Clinic are here to assist you in getting your furry friend both medically and behaviorally healthy. Reach out to us today!