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Cognitive Decline in Senior Cats

October 17, 2022

Did you know that, just like people, cats sometimes experience a decline in cognitive abilities as they age? Cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) is not uncommon in older kitties. A veterinarian discusses this condition below.


There’s no one cause for feline CDS; it appears to be mostly age-related. About a third of our feline friends that are between the ages of 11 and 14 display at least one behavior that’s been linked to CDS. With kitties that are over 15, that number increases to a whopping 50%. Of course, with domestic cats living longer than ever, CDS cases are becoming more common.

Warning Signs

The signs of feline dementia can be subtle at first. They can also be hard to read. Fluffy may forget where her food bowl is, get ‘stuck’ in a hall, or get lost on the way to the litterbox. Or, she may just seem to wander aimlessly. Some cats will meow loudly to vocalize their frustration and distress. Others may clamor for attention, and follow their humans around like furry little shadows. There are also some more general red flags for you to watch for such as reduced appetite, withdrawal, poor grooming, changes in eating and sleeping habits, uncharacteristic vocalizations or behavior, and litterbox avoidance. These things can be indicative of many different medical issues in kitties, so you’ll need to take your feline buddy to the vet right away if you notice anything wrong.

Keeping Kitty Content

Fluffy won’t understand what’s happening to her, and she may get quite scared and upset. Just do what you can to comfort her. Simply talking to your furry friend and gently petting her can help soothe her. (Note: Always be very gentle whenever you pick up or put down an older kitty.) Keeping your pet on a set schedule for meals and playtime will also help provide stability. Many cats just feel safer with that sort of structured routine. (Your sleepy pet can still sort out her daily napping routine herself.)


Mental stimulation is just as important for pets as it is for people. Playing can help keep your feline pal’s mind healthy. Cats really have to focus to land those tricky pounces! Get into the habit of playing with your kitty every day. (Tip: Just keep a laser pointer near the spot you relax in at night.) Birdwatching can also offer your furry friend stimulation.

As your veterinary clinic, we are dedicated to keeping your pet happy and healthy. Contact us anytime!

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