Just like people, as cats enter old age, their cognitive functions and general mental acuity will begin to decline. This brain aging is a natural effect of the body’s natural breakdown, but how fast or how slowly it takes place will vary from cat to cat. Obviously, the longer that your cat lives, the more pronounced this progression will be, and the more likely you are to be able to observe it. However, all senior cats- that is, cats over the age of around ten years, will fall somewhere along the spectrum.
For cats that are lucky enough to reach fifteen years old in good health, over 50% of cats will be displaying some obvious signs of brain aging that the owner can identify. Often, the brain’s natural decline will not have any significant effect upon your cat’s quality of life until your cat is very old, and they are in fact more likely to have succumbed to a physical condition by that stage than to show pronounced and problematic side effects or risks associated with brain decline. However, the advanced process of brain decline in old age in cats can be likened to the progression of dementia in humans, and just like dementia, it is a progressive process than can be fast or slow, and have either a small impact or very little impact upon the cat in question at all.
If you are worried about how you might be able to identify the signs of brain aging in your cat or if there is anything that you can do to prevent it or slow the process down, read on to learn more.
Once your cat reaches the age of ten, you should familiarise yourself with the signs and symptoms of brain aging, and be on the lookout for them in your own cat. As your cat gets older still, and particularly if they make it past fifteen years of age, the chances of your cat being visibly affected grow that much higher.
Be on the lookout for:
Even when your cat is young, fit and healthy, you can take steps to protect the healthy function of your cat’s brain and hopefully, delay the onset of brain aging and mental decline in later life. Precisely how effective this proves to be for any particular cat will vary, but it certainly won’t hurt!
It can be very distressing for both the cat and their owners to have to deal with the cat’s mental decline, but there are some steps that you can take to make the transition into old age as smooth for your cat as possible.
Just as with human aging, there is no way to stop your cat from getting old, or to stop their natural mental decline. However, if you follow some of the steps above in terms of delaying the onset of brain aging and keeping your cat’s mind active and alert, you will be able to slow the process down, and hopefully allow your cat to live with you happily and safely for many more years.