It’s Monday. I know that. I’m a Siamese cat. Check. My name is Merlin. Check. I’m going to be 18 this year. Check. It’s Mondays with Merlin. I get it. I’m not senile. I even know they have a catchy name for it. FCD or feline cognitive disorder. Common name: senility. Senile, aka kitty Alzheimers or aged, doddering, feeble-minded, old fogey, fuddy duddy, fossil. One word worse than the other.
My mom Layla is concerned that I may have some of the symptoms, like increased vocalization. What do you expect? I’m Siamese, but seriously, if you have a senior or geriatric cat, you should know that FCD affects more than 55% of cats aged 11 to 15 years and more than 80% of cats aged 16 to 20 years. Whoops, that’s a scary stat for me. This another reason older cats need twice yearly vet visits, or in my case, every three or four months. Layla thinks I’m the ideal poster child for aging well. Scroll down for her handy cognitive checklist.
My vet says I’m not too bad yet even though we’ve ticked every box except #1. There can be many physical causes which need to be ruled out before a vet diagnoses FCD. Many of my symptoms are attributed to vision loss from cataracts, but it’s complicated and the truth is: the cause of FCD is unknown.
All of the Cat Wisdom 101 team get vitamins and supplements like essential fatty acids which supports cognitive function. When I really belt it out Siamese style, I like treats like Calming for Cats from Pet Naturals, Feliway (a natural pheromone) sprayed in my favorite sleep spots and/or good cuddle.
An older cats doesn’t mean a boring cat. Enriched play during the day helps or what I prefer, a good sniff and walk with Layla in garden. It perks me up and makes me less noisy at night. It’s important with older kitties to keep human stress levels down and reduce big changes like moving and re-decorating. We like that smelly, old sofa just fine. Just because a cat is old doesn’t mean we don’t notice things. Stop yelling. Breathe. Do yoga. Cats don’t like change and older cats like it less. Getting older can be scary whether you have two legs or four. Be kind.
Layla will be sharing more about FCD in future posts since this is her area of expertise. Thanks to me, one of her teachers! We believe it’s never too late to learn something new. If you have any tips to share about your older kitties, please leave a comment.
This check list is not for diagnosis. Only your veterinarian can diagnose. It is useful to create an awareness or a baseline of what’s normal for your cat before their behavior changes. Cats are experts at hiding symptoms and sometimes changes are subtle.
Feline Cognitive Disorder Check List
- Litter box issues. Going outside the box, not covering feces, eliminating in human’s bed or other inappropriate places.
- Sometimes unable to recognize familiar people and family pets.
- Disoriented in familiar places.
- Stares into space or spaced out.
- Wanders about, sometimes in circles.
- unable to maneuver around obstacles or familiar pieces of furniture.
- Less interested in petting, more aloof with humans or pet companions.
- Needs constant attention, overly demanding or needy.
4)Physical activity changes
- Less interested in playing, exploring or in their environment.
- Less interest in grooming themselves or pet’s companions.
- Eats or drinks less or more than usual.
5) Emotional/vocal changes
- More anxious or irritated.
- Changes in vocalization. Less often, more often and/or more urgently.
- More nocturnal restlessness.
- Sleeps more during the day.
- More vocalization at night.