As with all creatures, age can bring a heavy burden for a family pet to bear, along with those who love them. One day, your kitty is bouncing off the walls and smothering you with loving purrs and playful pats, then all too soon, the aging process takes the perfect personality you've come to know and turns it into something distant and disoriented.
This is known as feline cognitive dysfunction and it can, unfortunately, befall any cat.
The Symptoms Of This Sad Disease
Most elderly cats display signs of aging; however, with feline cognitive dysfunction, you'll notice some very specific and consistent symptoms:
- A decline in social activity
- Changes in sleep patterns, including napping more in the day and less at night
- Confusion with tasks that should be routine
- Bumping into things, as if vision is impaired
- A shakiness in walking and apprehension in jumping and other exercises of agility
- Anxiousness, irritability, and even hostility
Anytime you see something unusual and concerning in your pet, especially if they are elderly, give your veterinarian a call and discuss your observations. Even if you attribute the problems to aging, it's still important to bring a medical professional into your family circle.
How Your Veterinarian Will Help You
A cat doctor will eliminate particular medical issues, such as a neurological explanation for your feline's troubles and woes. Based on symptoms and tests, a diagnosis will help you and your vet determine the best course of treatment.
If your pet does in fact have cognitive decline due to aging, there is medicine available, like selegiline hydrochloride. This drug manages the activity of certain enzymes, which may alleviate some symptoms. Most pet parents are asked to provide home therapy, though, whether or not a pharmaceutical is introduced.
Things You Can Do At Home To Help Your Cat
Rather than being sad that your family friend has developed a depressing condition, be happy that you've had so much time together. Also, focus on the quality time you have ahead of you by showering the animal with extra love, affection, and play. Be in tune with the cat's moods to avoid pushing the play button when it's not desired.
Additionally, make sure the food and water dishes, along with the litter box, are all easily accessible and in plain view. Don't change things around in your home, lest the frustrated feline not be able to locate necessities or navigate the environment very well. It's a good idea to maintain the same daily schedule, too, as much as you are able.
The Long-Term Outlook
Cognitive decline is sporadic, whether in humans or other mammals. You may see glimpses of youth here and there, with bouts of lucidity you thought were a thing of the past. On the other hand, sometimes things go downhill more rapidly, which can be very hard on your heart. No matter the changes, though, stick to your routine, keep a calm vigilance and talk to your vet if any new symptoms occur.
Feline cognitive dysfunction has a tragic effect on animals and the people who love them, but it doesn't mean the end of the road. Talk to your vet about what options are applicable for you and how you can be the best pet parent to your cognitively-challenged cat. Don't forget to enjoy every purr, nudge, and meow and to help your furry friend to enjoy those moments, too.