Feline Cognitive Dysfunction, what is it and how to deal with it?

Cats are arguably the most long-lived domestic animals, with an average life span of 15 years. But, just like human beings and other animals, with age comes certain diseases and dysfunctions. 

Feline Cognitive Dysfunction (FCD) is the equivalent of Alzheimer’s in cats. This dysfunction is responsible for cognitive deterioration and abrupt behavioral changes in elderly cats. It may appear after 11 years of age, and in spite of having no cure, there are various things that can be done to improve and delay its symptoms.  

How do I know my cat has FCD?

FCD is common in cats of more advanced age, but it is not the same as normal cognitive deterioration that most cats experience. This is why it is very important that if you notice some symptoms, you visit your veterinarian to make sure that your cat in fact has or hasn’t FCD.  

One of the most important factors to effectively control the disease is early diagnosis. It is important that we make sure to always pay attention to any slight behavior alterations to avoid the advancement of the dysfunction. 

One of the most noticeable symptoms is the alteration of the sleep pattern, meaning that your cat wanders through the night and sleeps for abnormally extensive periods of time during the day. Disorientation could also be related to FCD. 

Lack of appetite and irritability are also FCD symptoms. Notice if your cat has recently become more aggressive or louder. Another thing related to the dysfunction is that your cat stops using its litter box and starts urinating or defecating in other areas of your home. 

FCD treatment

As previously mentioned, FCD doesn’t have a cure. It is part of the aging process of some cats and as owners we have to act with patience and kindness. Nonetheless, there are various actions we can take to improve our cats’ quality of life.  

Remember that, like any other disease,  FCD always has to be treated with the help of a veterinarian, always making sure he or she is behind every decision. They can guide you and even in more severe cases can prescribe drugs that can improve the situation.

Here you have a list of suggestions you can take if your cat is diagnosed with Feline Cognitive Dysfunction,

  1. Improve their diet to make it suitable for their age 
  2. Activate their mind with interactive toys
  3. Play with them constantly, always calmly and patiently
  4. Put ramps in your house to make movility easier
  5. Avoid changing your furniture’s place
  6. Clean them with a wet cloth daily
  7. Avoid visiting new places and introducing them to strangers
  8. Facilitate the access to essential resources such as their litter box
  9. Do not leave them alone for long periods of time
  10. If necessary, help them with daily tasks such as feeding 

Love and attention are the best recommendations we can give to elderly cat owners. At the end of the day, we are the most important thing in the life of our pets and the best thing we can do is stick with them through the uncomfortable times. We know this stage represents a challenge, but we are sure that with this advice you will succeed. 

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