What affects us also tends to affect our cats. So as humans in the West become more obese and less active so are our cats. Also from a personal standpoint my feeling is that we are not dealing with environmental pollution anywhere near efficiently enough. It has been found that car exhaust pollution might be a cause of dementia as it leaves minute particles of metal in the brain.
We are seeing an increase in cat and dog obesity. Pets are eating more and exercising less. This lifestyle can help bring on early dementia (feline cognitive dysfunction syndrome). There are other health problems associated with this sort of lifestyle.
It is estimated that 1.3 million cats and dogs in the UK have dementia. A University of Edinburgh study indicated that 50% of cats over 15 suffer from dementia.
Professor Holger Volk, a veterinary scientist said:
“I don’t think that people really realise how serious this problem is.”
Cat owners tend to miss the signs of their cat’s cognitive decline and sometimes mistake arthritis for dementia. Sara Johnson noticed that her cat was not well when she walked around in circles and got stuck in corners. Those symptoms do seem to be pretty stark however.
Sara suspected that her 16-year-old cat was suffering from dementia. However Sara works with dementia patients and was well versed in diagnosing dementia.
“It was very upsetting to see her like that and I suppose I was lucky in that I recognised the symptoms,” she said.
Her vet confirmed her thoughts and prescribed a supplement called Aktivait. This is designed to minimise the worst of her cat’s symptoms.
The Professor recommends that the best way to prevent or delay the onset of feline dementia is to ensure that cats get regular, vigorous exercise.
“Neurons in the brain go into decline with dementia and the more you exercise the more they remain active..”
In addition, he recommends high quality cat food containing fatty acids.
Some signs of feline dementia:
- Your cat becomes stuck behind furniture and needs assistance to get out (this has never happened to any of my cats).
- Standing on the hinge side of a door when waiting for the door to be opened rather than the side that does open (I am not sure that this is a particularly good example to be honest).
- Drifting away from activity.
- Walking in circles.
- Forgetting to eat.
- Forgetting that they have recently eaten.
- Finding it difficult to find their way around in general.