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Cats are increasingly being accepted into households nowadays because they are able to provide similar companionship as that of a dog. As such, there has been an improvement in their nutrition, medicines, and home care facilities, increasing their lifespan to about 20 years.
As cats grow old, they are susceptible to various mental and physical disorders as humans. A highly disturbing mental condition commonly seen in aging cats is cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) or feline cognitive dysfunction (FCD). It normally affects cats that are over 10 years old.
Cats suffering from CDS display bizarre and unusual behavior. Use the acronym DISH to confirm if your cat is suffering from CDS. DISH includes the common signs associated with CDS and helps you diagnose the problem early.
- Disorientation – Cats with CDS have trouble navigating around familiar spaces and situations. They often tend to get lost in their own home, sometimes wandering around aimlessly. Staring at random objects, walls, or space at length is a sign of CDS. They also tend to lose balance a lot and are unable to move over simple obstacles.
- Interactions – Cats are quite playful and jolly when they are active. CDS causes them to lose interest in common interactions. Activities that they loved at one time are no longer stimulating. Aggression, irritability, and restlessness in often-calm cats are red flags for CDS. Even grooming becomes a chore and they clean themselves less often. Check for changes in behavior with you, other pets, family members, and their surroundings. If they are too detached or even too attached than before, it’s time to visit the vet.
- Sleep – It’s no secret that cats love to sleep, but did you know it can be a symptom of CDS in senior cats? Cognitive dysfunction meddles with their sleeping cycle. Instead of a few hours, they sleep almost the whole day. In addition, cats that used to sleep soundly before may wake up during the night or sleep restlessly. They may keep you awake at night due to their vocalizations.
- House training – Cats eliminate outside the litter box for a number of reasons – the litter box may be dirty, they want to show their displeasure, or for some medical attention. CDS can be diagnosed by eliminating these reasons. Cats with CDS ‘forget’ to use the litterbox. They may instead eliminate in other areas of the house.
Before you conclude that your cat is suffering from CDS, take her to the vet. Make sure she isn’t suffering from any other condition that can cause the symptoms listed above. Urinary tract infections, liver disease, kidney disease, hypertension, cancer, and other medical conditions can also result in your cat’s unusual behavior.
If your cat does have CDS, follow the instructions of your vet and provide medication as prescribed. Create a stimulating environment for her by reducing stress and increasing activity.