Some people think all cats are crazy to begin, but cat owners need to realize that senior cats can, and do, become senile. Knowing what to look for will help you establish if your aging cat is going senile, or not.
Senility can set in at the age of 15 years, or more, but not all cats will become senile. There are several things to watch for to determine if a cat is going senile. As always, when any cat shows signs of unusual behaviors it is a good idea to get a veterinary opinion to rule out any medical problems or other urgent concerns.
Disorientation is a common symptom of senility in senior cats and can take many forms. Cats who normally go outside may suddenly not be able to find their way home. The cat may be perfectly able bodied, physically able to walk home, but it may become lost and confused even in an area it knows and is familiar with. The cat might try to enter a home where it does not live.
-Failure to Use the Litter Box-
The senile cat might urinate, or defecate, in random places of the home, possibly hidden, possibly near the litter box, or not even close. Failure to use the litter box correctly can also be a sign of a medical problem; so the cat should be checked by a veterinarian before the litter box accidents are linked to senility. A normally neat cat that covers its messes might forget to do so.
-Change of Social Habits-
A normally social cat might become withdrawn and anti-social. A senile cat might appear not to know its owners or other pets in the house. Fights may break out for no reason. On the other hand a cat who is going senile may become overly friendly and not want to be alone, seeking the comfort and company of its owner.
Along these lines a cat who normally gets out of the way when a person is walking may suddenly find themselves often getting in the way and being tripped over regularly.
A normally calm cat who seems to be spooked at everything may be showing signs of senility.
A cat who is going senile may wish to hide, showing a fear of things it should know and be comfortable with. It may not want to go outside as much as it normally would. He, or she, might spend a lot more time in a quieter part of the house. This is part of the cat's confusion. It is overwhelmed at feeling unfamiliar with things it should be familiar with.
Some older cats meow excessively when their hearing is fading, but excessive meowing can also be a sign of senility. The cat may not even be aware it is meowing for no apparent reason, other than to soothe itself. Often times the cat is meowing because it is upset and wants to be comforted.
-Walking into Things-
An owner might suspect a cat who is walking into things is loosing its vision, and this does occur in older pets. Bumping into things can also be a problem related to senility as the cat simply does not care where it is going, or forgets its way around household objects.
-Walking in Circles-
This relates somewhat to disorientation, as mentioned above, but is a more progressed problem, and often a sign of greater brain dysfunction.
-Help for the Senile Cat-
As mentioned if a cat is showing any of the above symptoms it should visit a veterinarian to first rule out other health concerns. If the cat is found to be going senile it should be kept indoors only and given special care and understanding in regards to their senility. An owner may even want to put the cat in a quiet room for the night where it has easy access to its food, water, and litter. With care, a senile cat can live a happy life in its old age.