I sometimes get the question whether cats can get dementia. The short answer is yes, but it is rare and abnormal or ‘demented’ behavior in older cats is usually due to other problems.
Older cats may meow louder and ask for food more often, making it seem like they’ve forgotten they’ve eaten before.
Sometimes they will suddenly lie down in different places and you will notice different behavior in them, while most cats are real creatures of habit and like to follow their fixed patterns and routines.
As with us, the nervous system deteriorates with age and in cats hearing can deteriorate.
“Watch out with that label”
That could be a reason that they meow louder. They hear themselves less well so they start making louder noises, just like people do when their hearing is impaired.
A common condition in older cats (from 10 to 12 years) is an overactive thyroid, and this is usually the reason that they start to show ‘demented’ behaviour.
If a thyroid gland works too fast, more thyroid hormone is released and metabolism speeds up, energy use increases (and therefore the need for food) and they lose weight. These animals can become more active or restless and often seek out cold places to lie down.
Not all cats with an overactive thyroid display all of these behaviors. To know for sure whether this abnormal behavior is due to a thyroid problem, you can have your cat’s blood checked by the vet.
Fortunately, this age-related ailment in cats can often be treated well.
The thyroid gland can be suppressed with pills, the thyroid tissue that works too quickly can also be irradiated, a diet can help and for some cats an ointment on the ear is the solution.
Be careful about calling your cat demented if the behavior changes as they get older and have your pet examined. Weight loss is often one of the first symptoms; Weigh your cat regularly (every two weeks) and keep track of its weight.
Of all the old age ailments in cats, an overactive thyroid is the best to treat and your pet can often have a nice life for many years to come.
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