Do cats get dementia?

  • Date: November 2, 2022
  • Time to read: 4 min.

Cats are beloved family members, and just like us, they can suffer from age-related health issues. One of the most concerning is dementia, a neurological disorder that can cause memory loss, confusion, and other cognitive changes. While dementia is more commonly associated with humans, cats can also suffer from it. If you’re wondering, “Do cats get dementia?”, the answer is yes. It’s not as common as it is in humans, but it is possible for cats to develop dementia. In this article, we’ll look at the symptoms, causes, and treatments for dementia in cats.

Do Cats Get Dementia?

Cats are an important part of many people’s lives. They provide companionship, unconditional love, and endless entertainment. But as cats age, they can start to display signs of cognitive decline, just like humans do. So, can cats get dementia?

The answer is yes, cats can get dementia, also known as cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS). CDS is a progressive neurodegenerative condition that affects a cat’s mental abilities, including memory, learning, and behavior. While it’s not a normal part of aging, it can be a serious condition that can greatly diminish a cat’s quality of life.

What Causes Dementia in Cats?

The exact cause of CDS in cats is not fully understood. However, there are a few potential causes that may play a role. These include:

• Age-related changes: As cats age, their brains and cognitive abilities can start to decline. This can lead to memory loss, confusion, and other signs of dementia.

• Genetics: Genetics can play a role in how a cat’s brain ages and how susceptible it is to developing CDS.

• Toxins: Exposure to environmental toxins, such as pesticides, can cause cognitive decline in cats.

• Infections: Certain infections, such as feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and feline leukemia virus (FeLV), can lead to cognitive decline.

• Nutrition: Poor nutrition or nutritional deficiencies can lead to cognitive decline in cats.

Signs of Dementia in Cats

The symptoms of dementia in cats can be subtle and difficult to detect. However, some common signs that may indicate cognitive decline include:

• Disorientation: Cats with dementia may appear confused or disoriented, especially in familiar places.

• Changes in Sleep and Activity: Cats with dementia may sleep more, be less active, or become less interested in playing or interacting with people.

• Changes in Grooming Habits: Cats with dementia may groom themselves less often or not as thoroughly as they once did.

• Changes in Interaction: Cats with dementia may become less affectionate or less responsive to people and other cats.

• Changes in Behavior: Cats with dementia may display changes in behavior, such as pacing, vocalizing, or restlessness.

• Loss of House-Training: Cats with dementia may forget their litter box habits and start to urinate or defecate outside of the box.

It’s important to note that these symptoms can be caused by other conditions, such as kidney disease or thyroid disease. If your cat is displaying any of these signs, it’s important to take them to the veterinarian for a full assessment.

Diagnosing Dementia in Cats

If your veterinarian suspects that your cat may have dementia, they will perform a physical exam and a neurological exam. They may also recommend additional tests, such as blood work, urine tests, or imaging tests.

The veterinarian may also recommend cognitive tests that can help assess the severity of the condition. These tests can involve observing the cat’s behavior and response to certain stimuli.

Treating Dementia in Cats

Unfortunately, there is no cure for CDS in cats. However, there are treatments that can help improve a cat’s quality of life and manage the symptoms of dementia.

These treatments can include medications, dietary changes, environmental enrichment, and behavior modification. It’s important to work closely with your veterinarian to develop a treatment plan that’s tailored to your cat’s needs.

Caring for a cat with dementia can be challenging, but with patience and understanding, it can be a rewarding experience. With the right care and support, cats with dementia can continue to live happy and healthy lives.

**Common Myths About Cat Dementia**

1. Myth: Cats can’t get dementia.
Fact: Cats can get dementia, just like humans. It is thought that around one in 10 cats over the age of 11 suffer from dementia.

2. Myth: There is no treatment for cat dementia.
Fact: There are treatments available to help manage the symptoms of cat dementia. These include medications, environmental modifications, and cognitive behavioral therapies.

3. Myth: Cat dementia is caused by old age.
Fact: While age is a factor in the development of dementia in cats, it is not the only cause. Other causes include brain tumors, strokes, or head trauma.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do cats get dementia?

Yes, cats can get dementia, also known as Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS). This is a condition that affects the brain and can cause cats to show changes in their behavior, including disorientation, difficulty navigating familiar spaces, and changes in sleeping and eating habits.



Yes, cats can get dementia, also known as Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS). It is a progressive neurodegenerative condition that can cause changes in memory, learning, behavior, and other mental abilities. Causes of CDS can include age-related changes, genetics, toxins, infections, and nutrition. Common signs to look out for include disorientation, changes in sleep and activity, changes in grooming habits, changes in interaction, changes in behavior, and loss of house-training. Diagnosing CDS requires a physical and neurological exam, as well as additional tests. Treatment includes medications, dietary changes, environmental enrichment, and behavior modification. With the right care and support, cats with dementia can still have happy and healthy lives.

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