Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.
Your Pet, Our Passion.
older cat in a bed

Cat Dementia: What You Need to Know

5 min read

As more cats are living longer, owners and vets get more frequently confronted with age-related problems such as cat dementia. We’ve rounded up the most common signs and ways to keep your senior cat comfortable.

Our cats are now living longer than ever before and there is no better news for owners looking to spend extra years with their lovely feline companions. But prolonged lives also come with increased prevalence of senior cat health problems and cat dementia can be one of them.

Do cats get dementia?

Yes, cats can have dementia. Similar to the human version, feline dementia is a cognitive dysfunction illness and can manifest in any senior cat. There are many changes at play as a cat’s brain is aging. So, make sure you discuss how dementia might affect your cat with the vet.

What is cat dementia?

Cat dementia, officially known as feline cognitive dysfunction, refers to a gradual decline in cognitive abilities caused by ageing-related changes in the brain.

Cat dementia will usually have a slow onset, with changes in memory or spatial abilities worsening over time.

Can cats get Alzheimer's?

Cats suffer from dementia rather than Alzheimer’s. Dementia in cats looks similar to that of human Alzheimer’s, however, as there is a similar effect of the brain.

How long do cats live with dementia?

Cats with dementia can still live long lives but each case will be different. Your vet will be able to tell you more about this. Of course, you can make their lives more comfortable by making adjustments to cope with their cat dementia.

What age do cats get dementia?

The feline brain starts to decline at around 10-15 years old so cat dementia is more likely to occur at this age than any other. For this reason, you might notice the cat dementia signs being more noticeable in more senior cats.

Cat dementia signs – 6 symptoms to look out for

The early signs of cat dementia can easily be mistaken for other illnesses, so make sure you discuss any behavioural changes with the vet. Old age is also associated with diseases such as arthritis, hyperthyroidism and kidney disease which can all lead to behavioural changes due to pain or other processes. Changes in behaviour such as those listed here, can be an indication of cat dementia, or another disease.

Can cat dementia be treated?

The brain changes associated with cognitive dysfunction in cats are not reversible, so there is no curative treatment. However, there are plenty of ways to help manage some of the symptoms associated with it.

In some cases, it is also possible to slow down the progression of the illness. As always, your vet will be able to recommend the best way forward, including behavioural therapies and medication suitable for cat dementia. Offering mental enrichment, keeping their environment familiar and making small adjustments to your senior cat’s diet are small steps you can take right away to benefit your pet.


9 things to do to help with cat dementia

Here are some of the things you can do to help a cat with dementia:

1. Avoid changes to their environment

Keep changes to their environment to a minimal to avoid further confusion or cat anxiety. This includes keeping their food bowls and litter trays in the same locations, but extends to other factors such as keeping furniture in the same place. 

2. Use nightlights for regulated sleep cycles

Nightlights will help your cat manage better the changes in their sleep-awake cycle. If they start roaming at night, having a dim light is useful in localising their position in the house, the litter tray or the food bowl.

3. Use ramps and stairs to help with disorientation

If your cat has other health problems, such as osteoarthritis, installing ramps or stairs can help the senior cat reach their favourite high places. These can also be easily improvised using boxes or books, taking care that they are stable and won’t fall over.

4. Ensure they keep an active mind

Keep their mind active with brain games, puzzles and cat toys. This should be done throughout their lives but it's also great mental exercise for cats suffering with dementia.

5. Understand that accidents will happen

Try not to get frustrated if they seem confused or have indoor accidents. You can attempt basic re-training methods, but be patient when it comes to results.

6. Try using dietary supplements that support healthy brains

Ask your vet about supplementing with Omega-3, vitamin B12 and antioxidants such as vitamin E to their diet as these can support a healthy brain.

7. Make litter trays easy access

Consider if litter trays can be made easier to access, by making them bigger or shallower.

8. Stick to a daily routine

Create a regular daily routine and stick to it. For example, keep a consistent cat feeding schedule to help avoid confusion.

9. More resting spots for them

Create additional resting places in warm spots for their comfort.


Can cat dementia be prevented?

The brain is known for its neuroplasticity, which means it can continue to change throughout life and be easily shaped by experiences. This is why mental enrichment can form an important part of delaying onset and slowing progression of cat dementia.

Introduce enrichment activities that are mentally and physically stimulating, but suitable for your cat’s personality and take into account health problems such as osteoarthritis. Cat play can be an important part of this, especially if your cat lives mostly indoors and there are a range of cat toys available designed to cater for your pet’s natural chasing instincts. Other cats may prefer food-motivated games such as puzzle feeders, but make sure to replace food regularly.

For more advice on keeping your cat happy in their older years, check out our guide on caring for your senior cat. If you’re not sure whether your cat is a senior yet, this guide helps you explore some of the less obvious signs of ageing.