May 22, 2024

As your feline friend enters their golden years, you may notice some changes in their behavior. Understanding geriatric cat behavior is crucial to providing your aging pet with the best possible care. In this article, we’ll discuss the symptoms and issues often encountered by elderly cats, along with practical solutions and treatments to ensure their comfort and happiness.

Identifying Feline Cognitive Dysfunction (FCD) in Aging Cats

One common ailment affecting geriatric cats is Feline Cognitive Dysfunction (FCD). FCD is prevalent among cats between 11-15 years and affects up to 85% of cats aged 16 years and above. This neurological condition can cause many symptoms related to memory, awareness, learning, hearing, and sight, resulting in anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances.

Typical Symptoms of Cognitive Dysfunction in Cats

If your elderly cat shows any of the following behavioral signs, it might be suffering from FCD:

  • Confusion or spatial disorientation
  • Memory and learning difficulties
  • General anxiety
  • Changes in activity level
  • Altered relationships with humans and other pets
  • Sleep and routine disruptions

Other Common Senior Cat Health Issues That Can Cause Behavior Changes

Aging cats may also experience various health issues that can trigger behavioral changes. It’s essential to rule out these possibilities before concluding that your cat has FCD:


Arthritis can make geriatric cats less active and cause difficulty in accessing their litter box. This can lead to urination and defecation accidents around the home.


Cats with hyperthyroidism can exhibit increased nighttime vocalizations, restlessness, and agitation.


High blood pressure, or hypertension, can also cause nighttime vocalizations and restlessness, similar to hyperthyroidism.

Dental Issues

If your senior cat is eating less, they might be experiencing gum disease or other dental issues that cause discomfort while eating.

Hyperesthesia Syndrome

This condition can cause twitching, uncontrolled urination, frequent vocalizations, and self-scratching in geriatric cats, which may resemble FCD symptoms.

Acute Blindness and Ocular Diseases

Some eye diseases that cause sudden blindness can exhibit symptoms similar to FCD, such as disorientation and confusion.

Consulting with a Veterinarian for Accurate Diagnosis

Before assuming that your elderly cat has FCD, consult with your veterinarian to rule out or confirm other potential health issues. They can perform various diagnostic tests and assessments to ensure you provide the best care for your aging companion.

If you’re seeking professional assistance, consider obtaining the services of pet care professionals who specialize in baby and senior pet care. Reputable vets at Riverside Veterinary Hospital offer dedicated care for the unique needs of aging pets.

Managing and Treating Feline Cognitive Dysfunction

While there’s no cure for FCD, there are multiple ways to alleviate symptoms and improve your cat’s quality of life:

Pharmacological Interventions

Your veterinarian may prescribe medications to help manage anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances in your geriatric cat. Cold laser therapy in Mandeville is an alternative treatment option for aging cats experiencing pain and inflammation. This non-invasive therapy relieves pain and promotes healing by stimulating cell regeneration and blood flow.

Adjusting Your Cat’s Environment

Create a stable, predictable living space for your cat. Ensure that food, water, and litter boxes are easily accessible and that ramps or mobility aids are available if needed.

Maintaining a Consistent Routine

Establishing a feeding, playtime, and grooming routine can provide comfort and reduce anxiety for cats with FCD.

Incorporating Dietary Changes for Geriatric Cats

Ensuring your senior cat is fed a diet rich in vitamin E, and antioxidants can help slow the effects of aging. Speak to your veterinarian about recommending high-quality senior cat food that meets your pet’s nutritional needs.

Implementing Lifestyle Changes to Aid Senior Cat Wellbeing

Minimizing stressors in the home and maintaining a calm, stable environment can significantly support your aging cat’s wellbeing. Avoid introducing changes that may cause stress, such as moving furniture or adopting new pets.

Because elderly cats may have unique health concerns, it’s crucial to have them regularly examined by a geriatric veterinarian. To learn more about geriatric feline health care, read more about veterinary resources and articles dedicated to senior pet care.

The Takeaway

Understanding geriatric cat behavior is crucial to providing your aging pet with the best care. Decoding the changes in your senior cat’s behavior can be challenging. Still, with vigilance, patience, and professional advice from your veterinarian, you can ensure a comfortable, happy, and fulfilling life for your feline friend during their golden years.