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Unfortunately, symptoms of old age are inevitable in both humans and our feline friends. In fact, according to the American Association of Feline Practitioners, 50% of cats at 15 years of age (85 in humans) exhibit signs of brain aging. The impact of brain aging illnesses in senior cats can be significant not only on your cat, but on your entire family as well.
Signs of cognitive brain disorders in senior cats can include:
- Decreased interaction with humans and other pets
- Less desire to eat
- Urination or defecation outside the litter box
- Decreased problem-solving skills
- Less awareness of their surroundings
- Inconsistent sleep-wake cycles
- Loud crying – especially during nighttime hours
Just as humans can take steps to fight the signs of brain aging, so can your senior cat. In fact, this is when your cat needs you the most. With certain safety precautions, the right nutrition and mental stimulation, you can help your cat adjust to any behavior problems and keep them mentally fit as your cat grows older.
At mealtime, choose a food that’s rich in antioxidants and omega fatty acids to help improve your cat’s cognitive function. Incorporate a puzzle ball or maze into feeding time to encourage your cat to hunt and stimulate brain activity.
At night, make sure your cat’s sleeping area is both quiet and safe. Be sure to keep a light or night light turned on to help with declining vision, and to better accommodate your cat’s altered sleep-wake cycles and added propensity to wander.
At all times, be sure to apply nonskid surfaces throughout the house, and add ramps or steps to allow your senior cat to reach places without having to jump. Increase the number and size of litter boxes to help with your cat’s increased waste elimination – another common behavioral change in senior cats.