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Cognitive Decline in Senior Cats

October 2, 2022

Did you know that cats can experience a decline in cognitive abilities as they age, just like people? Unfortunately, cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) is common in senior kitties. A vet discusses this condition below.


There’s no one cause for feline CDS; it appears to be mostly age-related. An estimated one third of kitties between the ages of 11 and 14 show at least one behavior that is associated with CDS. With cats older than 15, that number increases to a whopping 50%. Of course, with pets living longer than ever nowadays, CDS cases are becoming more prevalent.

Warning Signs

The signs of dementia in cats may be subtle at first. They can also be hard to spot. Fluffy may forget where her litterbox is, get lost on the way to the kitchen, or get ‘stuck’ in a corner. She may also just seem to wander aimlessly. Some cats will meow to vocalize their distress and frustration.

Others may clamor for attention, and follow their humans around like little shadows. There are also some more general red flags, such as poor grooming, reduced appetite, withdrawal, changes in sleeping and eating habits, unusual vocalizations, and litterbox avoidance. These things can be indicative of many different medical issues in kitties, so take your furry buddy to the vet right away if you see something’s wrong.

Keeping Kitty Content

Your feline pal won’t understand what’s happening to her, and she may get quite upset and scared. Just do what you can to comfort her. Simply talking to Fluffy and petting her can help soothe her. (Note: Always be very gentle whenever you pick an older cat up or put her down.) Keeping your kitty on a consistent schedule for playtime and meals will also help with this. Many cats just feel safer with some sort of stability. (Fluffy can still manage scheduling her daily napping routine herself.)


Mental stimulation is just as important for cats as it is for people. Playing keeps your feline buddy’s mind healthy. Kitties really have to concentrate to land those tricky pounces! Get into the habit of playing with Fluffy every day. Keep a laser pointer near the spot you relax in at night. Birdwatching can also offer your furry pal some stimulation.

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

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