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Do cats get dementia? So sad....

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  • Do cats get dementia? So sad....

    I rarely visit The Menagerie, so forgive me if this has been discussed here before -

    My hubby's heart cat is now 14 years old. He was neutered as a kitten, is UTD on all vaccs and worming all the time. I won't bore you with how much this cat has contributed to our lives, suffice it to say, he is extra special in every single way.

    But lately he's been acting very strange. Still friendly and loves attention, but now he sleeps in odd positions on stuff he never did before. He's indoor/outdoor, so I don't know if his toilet habits have changed. He will not use a litter box inside, if we keep him inside, he'll tear the house apart demanding to be let out. Anyway, what really alarms us is this morning he was aggressively pawing at something under the lawn tractor. I thought it might be a mouse, but he was reaching too high up in the air. To my horror I realized he had cornered our 8 year old female (long ago spayed) cat, a buddy he's known and gotten along with very well since she was a kitten. We recused her, brought him in the house, but who knows if and when he'll try that mean trick on her again.

    Also, he won't get out of the way of our cars/trucks in the driveway. We have a farm, far from any major roads, and he doesn't wander far, so we're not worried about his getting hit by a car at random. But he will get under our cars, or he just plain will not move when we start the vehicles and want to drive off. He doesn't appear to be in any real pain, will let us pick him up and cuddle, but he moves stiffly at times, like maybe he's got some arthritis. I don't know... he has this look in his eyes that seems almost feral.... how to explain. He used to be super affectionate, but now he only comes onto our laps if he wants to be let outside.

    Years ago I had a super old cat who just went batty. We tried the Prozac route with her, but she always managed to evade the pills, would hold them in her mouth for a long time, then I'd find them here and there all over the house. I cannot imagine trying to get pills of any kind into this old Tom cat. He'd kill us.

    Boo hoo.... it will kill us to lose this old boy, but what can we do? Anyone with ideas? Thanks so much!

  • #2
    Oh dear. Well, I pet sit for a woman years ago who plainly told me that the old cat was senile and if she were injured or ill not to take her to the emergency vet. She said something about the cat forgetting how to use the litter box and other everyday tasks. The cat seemd OK to me but very scraggy looking.

    My Mom's old cat was deaf, going blind, very stiff and couldn't get over the threshold anymore, also 19 years of age when they had her humanely euthanized.

    My old Tomcat began to sleep in odd places and sweat a lot, he was somewhere between 12 and 16 and the vet found a massive tumor in his gut so we put him down. He was actually much nicer by then though, much more a lap cat, so it was hard to do, very hard.

    Have you taken him to the vet? Harassing his buddy cat would bother me, also the unfriendly part. He could be hurting pretty badly. It's a tough call to make and especially hard on us, outliving our animal companions.
    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
    Incredible Invisible


    • #3
      Our 20 year old cat who we had to put down last year (named Buttercup..) became deaf in her later years. I think it happened gradually, so we didn't notice it at first but once we made the connection all the little idiosyncrasies she developed made more sense. We definitely had to watch her around vehicles.
      It's weird about the issues with the other cat, but I can imagine it's stressful if you can't hear anymore.
      Just a thought, good luck!


      • #4
        Awwww. What a bummer. It sucks when they get old.

        I'd have the vet do a thorough once over. I lost by bestest dog to lymphoma in the spring, and now, thinking back, I realize that all of the odd ways she would sleep were due to enlarged lymph nodes in her neck and chest. She would drape herself over furniture in totally new ways, as a way of relieving pressure.

        With regard to pills--try pill pockets. I have a cat that gets pilled twice a day, and will for the rest of her life, and they have saved us. She was very adept at eating the pocket but not the pill when I first tried it, so instead I would give her half a pocket empty, wrap her up in a towel and pill her, and then give her the other half of the pocket, empty. After a few weeks of that, she was excited about the pill pockets and now eats her pills and the pockets together. I'd start treating your guy with the pockets a couple times a day now, and in a few days or weeks, he'll be all set to be pilled with them.

        It also sounds like it's time to keep him inside for his safety.


        • #5
          My old cat Oreo got senile around age 14 and I did some research on cats and senility. The best thing to do is have them in a warm famliar place that they have easy access to food, water and litter box but especially a warm bed like a box with a blanket in it. It's best to keep them in a room where there is some but a not a lot of activity and where its not on carpet as they get more prone to accidents. Oreo went into heart failure at 15 the day I started moving into a new place and went downhill fast. I put him down that day and it was the best thing for him. Between the senility and his eyesight going I felt terrible about trying to introduce him to a new house and I think he knew too poor old guy. I miss him but he taught me a lot about caring for older cats. Oh the other thing he did, was HOWL about four or five in the morning, and it wasn't for food. He didn't know where I was or possibly where he was but my other cat would run up to him and lick his face and he'd calm down. Cats really do get dementia.


          • #6
            We're dealing with our oldest cat right now who displays some of the symptoms you mention. I know that kind of sugar/amp'd up look you're talking about.

            Turns out she's totally deaf and very hyperthyroid. I think she's a little senile along with that, but we treating the thyroid and changing some stuff in the house to assume she's deaf has really helped.
            "The nice thing about memories is the good ones are stronger and linger longer than the bad and we sure have some incredibly good memories." - EverythingButWings


            • #7
              Yes, a small animal veterinarian told me animals do get senile. She said you find ways to work through the problems or you humanely put them to sleep.

              My 16 year old Siamese cat is doing well, albeit moving slower now that her kidneys are tanking out- she gets subq fluids weekly. We assist her by grooming her a couple times a week since she cant quite keep up with the task herself.

              Our 14 year old JRT is mostly deaf and has cataracts. His toileting habits are awful but we tolerate that because of the gifts he gave our daughters growing up....and we pulled up the wall to wall carpet and went with vinyl flooring throughout the house.


              • #8
                Vet check with blood workup and thyroid check. I know in dogs, a low thyroid can cause aggression, and maybe it does the same in cats.
                Hearing may also be going regarding not moving out from under the car when starting it. Arthritis may be making him not want to move either.


                • Original Poster

                  Yeah, I'm going to get him to the vet's for a work up this week. I guess we've had our heads in the sand because we can't bring ourselves to grasp the possibility of his not being with us much longer. I know that sounds dumb, and irresponsible, but after that awful time watching that other old cat go crazy, it chills us to the bone.
                  That other cat was just plain dreadful; she yowled all night, carried socks out into the living areas as if they were kittens I guess, refused to use the litter box at all. She was really old though, like 19, and to be honest, we hoped she'd just die! She kept her weight up, looked good, coat was nice, but oh! What a horrid animal she became. The other cats would corner her under the dining room table and hassle her without cease. I finally did have her euthed, just to restore peace in the land.

                  I don't think our Tom is deaf.... he comes when called and seems alert to sounds. He never was afraid of noises, never minded the running vacuum or chain saws. In fact we always joked about how he was the straw boss over all our construction projects done here.

                  But you all are probably right about his feeling pain. Those strange postures he assumes when he drapes himself over odd objects just doesn't seem right at all. I'm going to try to mitigate the ravages of dementia in him...... get the pills and all. But I feel despair here - my father is 89 now, and in the throes of major Alzheimers, so I know how cruel and devastating this scourge is to all involved, the victim and the caregivers. Oh, how I hate the ravages of old age! Why can't they all just drop dead of heart attacks, instead of this endless painful deterioration that serves no good purpose whatsoever???
                  This is the downside to major medical breakthroughs with physical ailments and disease. We can cure almost anything now, as long as it's not having to do with the cognitive functions of the brain.