New evidence linking dementia and pollution so think about your full-time indoor cat companion

This is an article about feline dementia and the possible causes. I’m going to knit together several strands of information. Firstly, I want to refer to a new study which provides evidence that there is a link between dementia and pollution. Obviously, the study is about humans but it must also be about companion animals. We cannot cut them out of the discussion because what affects humans also affect animals in almost all cases.

New evidence linking dementia and air pollution. We should think of both ourselves as cat caregivers and our full-time indoor cats
New evidence linking dementia and air pollution. We should think of both ourselves as cat caregivers and our full-time indoor cats
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats


This study concerns America and has been published in the journal Neurology. They examine the brains of 224 people who had died as an average age of 76. The scientists looked for “plaques of the amyloid protein”. It’s believed that the presence of this protein causes the disease.

They then compared the presence of this protein in the brains of these individuals with their addresses. In this way they were able to discern whether they lived in a polluted or non-polluted area.

The participants all lived in Atlanta, Georgia. They found a clear correlation between traffic pollution and higher levels of amyloid.

This doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a connection between living in a polluted area and developing dementia but it strongly indicates it.

And there is a growing consensus by specialists that air pollution my accelerate the development of dementia.

It’s believed that it causes inflammation in the brain.

RELATED: Companion animals can help kids avoid dementia when they are old

Inside the home

Quick research tells me that several reports by the US Environmental Protection Agency confirm that indoor air pollution levels in homes are typically 2-5 times higher than outdoor pollution levels and they can rise to a hundred times worse than outdoor air pollution. The point here is that if you live in a home where there is high outdoor air pollution it is likely that air pollution inside your home is even worse.

Dementia in domestic cats

It is difficult to diagnose dementia in domestic cats and therefore statistics about the prevalence of domestic cat dementia are not particularly sound. The exact prevalence of feline cognitive dysfunction (FCD) as the scientists call it is not well established. However, studies suggest that a significant proportion of older cats may develop FCD. It estimated that about 20% of cats aged between 11-14 and 50% of cats aged 15 years or older shows some signs of dementia.

These are estimates from studies up to 2021. And the information comes from artificial intelligence sources.

A different source, The Washington Post, reports that although experts aren’t sure of the prevalence of domestic at dementia, they estimate that between 14-35% of the pet dog population aged eight and older may have dementia of some sort. And in another study, they report that nearly 33% of cats between the ages of 11-14 and 50% of cats 15 and older are affected by FCD.

Full-time indoor cats

On my research, I would suggest that full-time indoor cats of which there are many more nowadays than in earlier years (perhaps up to 40% of the cat population in the US), are more prone to developing FCD than indoor/outdoor cats if they are living in the urban environment which would encourage their owners to keep them inside all the time.

It would seem to me that there is a hidden risk here. The risk is that domestic cats living in the urban environment with higher levels of road traffic pollution are going to be more predisposed to developing FCD if they live indoors full-time which is likely.

I think it’s a bit of information which cat caregivers should know about. What can you do about it?

Air purifier

When you can’t allow your cat to go outside because it’s too dangerous because of the road traffic and other dangers. I would suggest that all you could do is to install some sort of air purifying system inside the home as a matter of course and as a default system.

RELATED: Here’s why you should wear surgical gloves when applying cat flea treatments


The weight of evidence suggests an adverse association between [particulate pollution] and cognitive decline.

Anke Huels from Emory University in Atlanta

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