Signs & symptoms of feline dementia

Updated April 17, 2017

Alzheimer's is a term everyone has heard, but that only applies to dementia in humans. However, there is another term that refers to felines who suffer from dementia, and that is feline cognitive dysfunction. This is dementia in older cats. It did not used to be a very common problem at all, but now that we take our cats to the veterinarian for regular vaccinations, check ups and treatment, cats are living longer, just as people are. For this reason, dementia is being diagnosed more frequently in cats. There are symptoms and signs of dementia you can recognise.

Unusual crying

One symptom or sign that your cat may have a degree of dementia is if it starts making very loud and unusual meowing or crying sounds. Since some cats naturally miaow and "chat," a change in vocalisation that is definitely not normal and may sound like the cat is in pain, could indicate dementia. A cat with dementia might also call out suddenly in the middle of the night or from a deep sleep, similar to night terrors that people suffer from. Of course, it is important to remember that unusual crying might also signal another health problem, so a trip to the vet should be made regardless.


Dementia is mostly known for the confusion and disorientation is causes in humans, but this also occurs in cats. If a cat shows signs of disorientation, it might have trouble remembering where the food or water bowl is or where the litter box is. In extreme cases, the cat might forget that you just fed it and keep hanging around begging for food. If you notice your cat has stopped grooming, it could be because it has forgotten to do so.

More sleeping

Even though cats seem to do nothing but sleep, a cat with dementia will sleep even more. It should be fairly easy to determine unusual sleeping patterns because you should already know the basic sleep cycle of your cat. If it normally sleeps all day long and springs to life at night, then begins to sleep at night as well, you know that is not normal. Some cats with dementia will have trouble waking to use the litter box or come for food.

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About the Author

Gemma Argent writes articles and essays for Associated Content, HART, Horizon Magazine, and Canada. She writes fiction for Aria Kalsan and sci-fi and essays for Writing Edge magazine. She has bachelor's degrees from the University of Nevada, Reno, in environmental resources and archaeology and has done graduate coursework from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, in water resources and writing.