Senility in Cats: How To Recognise the Symptoms

old cat

The symptoms of senility in cats are varied.

Are you concerned about your ageing cat’s lack of response to its name? Or are you startled by your cat’s inability to locate its food bowl? Allow us to explain how you can identify early signs of senility in your cat and enable it to lead a lengthy and robust life.

How long do cats live?

As a general guideline, cats typically have an average lifespan of 15 years. This means that some cats can even live several years beyond that.

However, the actual age a cat can reach depends on its genetics and lifestyle, as well as the extent of senility it experiences. The healthier the cat’s lifestyle, the slower the onset of senility symptoms. It’s important to note that a poor or incorrect diet, as well as underlying diseases, can shorten a cat’s life expectancy.

An interesting fact: According to the Guinness Book of Records, the oldest cat on record, Creme Puff, lived an impressive 38 years. However, this exceptional case is undoubtedly a rarity.

Signs of Senility in Cats

When compared to younger felines, older cats exhibit distinct signs of aging that typically become noticeable around the age of seven. These signs can be categorized into physical characteristics and changes in behavior:

Physical Changes

A common characteristic of senility in cats is the graying or whitening of their fur, particularly around the head. In general, their coat becomes lackluster and loses its shine.

Older cats affected by senility often have matted fur, as they are unable to engage in proper self-grooming.

Additionally, a reduction in muscle tone and increased instability in posture may become more apparent. Underlying age-related conditions such as joint wear can further impact their physical appearance negatively.

Changes in Behaviour

It is normal for aging cats to exhibit different behaviors associated with senility. These behaviours are not indicative of illness but are simply a part of the aging process:

  • Confused wandering due to impaired sight and hearing
  • Occasional urination inside the home
  • Increased fatigue
  • Periods of reduced alertness
  • Decreased appetite and water intake

By closely observing these signs, cat owners can better recognize and understand the effects of senility on their feline companions.

old cat on a pink bed
There aren't just physical signs of senility with cats. There are also some modes of behaviour that can be noticed with increasing senility.

Can Senility in Cats be Prevented?

The ageing process of cats is influenced by two factors: environmental influences and hereditary aging. While hereditary factors can only be controlled through selective breeding, you can increase your cat’s lifespan and potentially slow down the onset of senility through a healthy lifestyle.

Proper Diet

Cats are carnivores and require a diet rich in protein. It is essential to provide them with sufficient amounts of vitamin A and taurine, as cats cannot produce these substances on their own. Nutrients like arginine and arachidonic acid are also important for maintaining a healthy diet and promoting longevity.

Adequate Exercise

Regular exercise is vital for a cat’s overall well-being, as researchers have long acknowledged. However, exercise doesn’t have to be high-intensity sports for your cat. Allowing them to roam the neighborhood can often provide sufficient exercise. For indoor cats, engaging them with cat toys or setting up interesting obstacle courses can help prevent early onset of senility.

Regular Veterinary Check-ups

Many senior cats are prone to systemic diseases such as diabetes or kidney problems, as well as joint disorders like arthritis. To diagnose and treat such conditions early, regular visits to the veterinarian are advisable. Your vet can provide necessary treatments such as pain management to ensure the well-being of your senior cat.

Stress-free Environment

Senior cats have a weaker immune system compared to younger cats. Excessive stress can make them more susceptible to infections and other illnesses, which can accelerate the onset of senility. Creating a stress-free environment for your cat by avoiding introducing new pets or hosting loud celebrations can be beneficial. If necessary, stress-reducing measures such as pheromone therapy can also be considered.

Mental Stimulation

It is normal for a cat’s memory to decline with age. However, you can slow down this process by offering your cat mental stimulation. Activities like hiding cat food or providing interactive toys can help boost cognitive performance and mental agility in older cats.

While it may not be possible to completely prevent senility in cats, following these guidelines can significantly contribute to maintaining their overall health and potentially delaying the effects of aging on their cognitive abilities.

Effects of Senility on the Body

All living organisms are composed of billions of cells, each with specific functions within the body. These cells multiply and replace dead cells through a process of division.

In youth, somatic cells are highly vital and functional. However, as the ageing process occurs, these cells gradually lose their functionality and resilience, marking the onset of senility in cats.

During senility, certain organs may experience a decline in function. This can include the kidneys, liver, and brain. As a result, cats may exhibit signs of senility such as hearing loss or increased urination, which are associated with diminished organ function.

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