One of the joys of having a cat companion in our lives is experiencing the richness of their personality.
From those first few rambunctious months as a kitten to the calm but no less curious years as an adult, having a cat around is a wonder.
As their owner, you’ll see a number of changes in your cat’s behavior throughout its life. Some of those changes happen at clear markers, while others may happen at any time.
As they age, those changes can become more common. Cats, like humans, do unfortunately become more susceptible to physical and cognitive decline over time.
There is one typical cause of this kind of behavioral change in older cats called Feline Cognitive Dysfunction. We outline what that is and how to handle it below.
Signs Of Feline Cognitive Dysfunction In Aging Cats
Cats are known to have a deterioration in cognitive ability as they age, or what is known as feline cognitive dysfunction (FCD). In fact, more than 50% of cats aged 11 to 15 and over 80% of cats aged 16 to 20 have FCD.
Signs of FCD can include:
- Reduced activity
- Irregular sleep patterns
- Forgetting previously acquired behaviors
- Elevated anxiety
- Violent responses
The first step to treating your aging cat is to understand what your pet is going through. From there, you’ll be able to respond to these new or different behaviors in a caring and effective way.
6 Signs That Your Cat Could Have FCD
Any of the following actions by your cat could be a sign that your elderly cat is displaying cognitive dysfunction:
- Memory and Learning – Is your cat having trouble remembering things, people, or animals they’ve known their whole life? Failure to recognize well-known individuals or animals, urination outside of the litter box, or in sleeping or feeding places, are signs of FCD.
- Confusion – Does your cat look or act lost? The inability to navigate around barriers, wandering aimlessly, or becoming lost in familiar places are all symptoms of disorientation and confusion, a symptom of FCD.
- Changing social behaviors – Was your cat friendly before, and less so no? Seeing a reduced or lost interest in greeting people or animals could be an indicator. A lack of enthusiasm in common activities like playing or being petted is also common.
- Reduced activity – Does your cat seem less active or less curious? Some cats with FCD will stop investing or reacting to what’s going on around them. That lessened activity can also mean grooming or eating less than usual.
- Anxiety and irritability – Is your cat grumpier? They may be restlessness, agitation, or aggression, as well as increased vocalization (like meowing, hissing, etc.).
- Changes in sleep patterns – How is your cat sleeping? Signs of FCD also include trouble falling asleep, waking up frequently during the night, sleeping more during the day, and increased vocalization at night.
A common misconception among cat owners is that behavioral changes in their feline family members are the result of old age.
However, a variety of treatable medical conditions in cats can manifest as behavioral abnormalities.
In other words, just because you think your cat’s new behavior is simply because of their age, it’s possible that it’s something else.
This is why it’s crucial to inform your veterinarian of any changes in your cat’s behavior so that the true cause can be identified and appropriately treated.
How Catonsville Cat Clinic Cares For Aging Cats
We provide wellness examinations that enable us to assess your cat’s health and identify any underlying medical conditions that may be contributing to their behavior.
If a medical issue isn’t the cause of the behavior change, there are other steps we can take. We can work with you to identify aspects of their home environment or adjustments to their routine that might be causing them to feel unhappy, uncomfortable, or aggravated.
We are aware of how difficult it can be to deal with behavioral problems in cats, especially given our connection to our pets. That’s why we treat our feline patients as though they were our own cats.