Alzheimer’s Becoming More Common In Older Cats

Older cat

According to an upcoming Journal of Small Animal Practice paper, mental disorders associated with aging, including Alzheimer’s, are far more common in pet cats than previously realized. More than half of all cats over age 15 show signs of senility.

This study supports the claim that most, if not all, mammals have the ability to suffer age-related illnesses and conditions normally associated with people.

For cats, a 15-year-old can be compared to an 85-year-old human. A recent study done on humans showed that around half of all 80-year-olds also show signs of dementia.

Danielle Gunn-Moore, head of the Feline Clinic at the University of Edinburgh’s Hospital for Small Animals, explained that the signs of behaviors linked with senility in cats can range from acting disoriented to their social relationships changing.

They may also change sleeping habits, forget commands, pace, wander, act sluggish, and may have “accidents.” Cats may also show signs of behaviors of not being interested in their food, decreased grooming, and being confused.

Some of these symptoms can also be associated with thyroid problems and diabetes. To rule out those possibilities, one of Gunn-Moore’s team members, Kelly Moffat of Arizona’s Mesa Animal Hospital, conducted a study on 154 geriatric cats brought to local vets.

Based on her results, the researchers concluded that 28 percent of pet cats aged 11 to 14 develop at least one brain-linked behavior problem associated with aging. The percentage drastically increases to 50% for cats 15 years or older.

The research team focused on the cats’ brains, and they identified thick plaques on the outside of their brain cells. The plaques had an Alzheimer-like protein that conflicts with messages to and from the brain.

Gunn-Moore said that the protein is significant in understanding a cat’s aging process. This tells us that a cat’s neural system is compromised in a similar way to what Alzheimer’s patients suffer.

Because pets are living longer, these types of diseases and illnesses associated with aging will become more and more common.

Gunn-Moore says that a good diet, mental stimulation and socialization may reduce the risk of dementia in both cats and humans.

“If humans and their cats live in a poor environment with little company and stimulation, they are both at higher risk of dementia,” she said. “However, if the owner plays with the cat, it is good for both human and cat.”

Source: Discovery News

12 Responses to “Alzheimer’s Becoming More Common In Older Cats”

  1. elizabeth says:

    Here’s a recent update on the Adam burned ktten story. He’s still alive!

  2. Anna_2007 says:

    I was surprised there was not more ongoing coverage of his story here, so I posted this:

  3. Trudy Jackson says:

    I knew it. I have a 20 year old cat that i keep saying has alzheimers. She does the strangest things. She forgets She has just eaten, forgets if I take Her out and just takes off walking. I keep Her in most of the time, because I let Her go on her own, she would forget where she lives. Her name is Shy and i love Her dearly. But to tell the truth, she acts just like my Grandmother did with the disease. But at least She seems to be happily senile. My Grandmother was always happy too.

  4. MaineMom says:

    Just how many “dementia” symptoms in both humans and animals are related to diet? Specifically toxins, “recently found”, in foods and supplements. Life may be extended, but the quality sure isn’t! By the time we get some answers, we’ll all have Alzheimer’s anyway.

  5. Trudy Jackson says:

    MaineMom, I think you are so right. and by then we won’t remember it either.
    PS- I am originally from Maine.

  6. MaineMom says:

    Hi Trudy - I’m a San Francisco kid, currently living in a fast growing town outside Sacramento. In the ’60s I rescued a very sick kitten from a pet shop and subsequently had the Peninsula Humane Society shut them down. My recently arrived vet from Italy, by way of New York, explained he was an East Coast “shag,” a hardy breed we would pull through. He thrived and I fell in love with the Maine Coon breed. Have had a pure and/or rescues ever since. Have done lots of research on the breed and even shown a little. Hence the screen name.
    Have been following both Itch and Petcon since March and read what you’ve been and are going through. Hang in there!

  7. MaineMom says:

    A MUST READ: Christie’s Petconnection post regarding new research on the connection between cat hyperthyroidism and flame retardant chemicals (PDBEs) found in everything from polyurethane foams and componeents of carpet padding and furniture to canned salmon and whitefish.

    Thanks again chemical companies. We thought dealing with GM crops and pesticides was bad enough! Not to mention the PFI.

  8. Jan says:

    Someone I know, whose 13-year-old cat is now deceased, assumed that his strange behaviors (memory problems, change in litter box habits) were the result of dementia. Blood work was negative for a variety of illnesses. As it turned out, he had a slow-growing meningioma (brain tumor). It was only when he began having seizures that the tumor was discovered. I share this story, because not many of us would suspect a brain tumor.

  9. Trudy Jackson says:

    Hi MaineMom, It’s good to meet you, and thanks.
    Plus you did a great thing to rescue the kitten and having the place shut down.

  10. Roberto P. says:

    I hate that statement: “Because pets are living longer, these types of diseases and illnesses associated with aging will become more and more common.”

    They use that excuse for thyroid disease, cancer, IBD, diabetes, etc., etc. for people and pets, without knowing why these diseases are on the increase.

  11. Judy says:

    Jan my cat has just been dx with a brain tumor, she had gone in for a CT scan and surgery to remove a tumor near her ear and the brain tumor popped up. It is hugh the size of a golf ball and this is a small cat. I saw a neurologist yesterday and he thinks he can remove most of it which would give her another 2-3 years. He says older cats do better than younger ones with this type of tumor which BTW has grown thru her scull.

  12. Janie Knetzer says:

    For over a year, we thought that our little collie mix was suffering with Cognitive Dysfunction (senility). It turned out that she actually had a brain tumor. We have since lost her but learned alot about the symptoms of senility as well as brain tumors in older dogs. From what I understand, the symptoms are pretty much the same for older cats. You can learn more here: http://www.old-dog-treats-and-.....lness.html

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