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C2003-35

Dear Christopher Cat

I read your column about dogs with senile cognitive dysfunction. Does senility also occur in cats? Can it be treated with Anipryl too?

Christopher Responds

Yes – and yes.

Geriatric cats with cognitive dysfunction – senility – may show one or more of these signs:

· yowling, wandering and other signs of confusion, disorientation or fear, especially at night;
· inconsistent use of the litter box;
· decreased affection; and
· increased irritability.

Sometimes these signs may be caused by other old-age problems. For example, a cat with impaired vision may be disoriented and unable to recognize family members. An arthritic cat may be too stiff to climb into a litter box or navigate stairs to a box in the basement.

But one study showed that some geriatric cats with senile behavior changes had amyloid plaques in their brains, just like human Alzheimer patients.

Anipryl is often used to treat dogs with senile cognitive dysfunction. A researcher studied the medication in 13 geriatric cats with cognitive dysfunction and saw improvement in ten of them.

If you’re concerned about your cat, ask your veterinarian to do a physical and lab work to rule out other conditions, such as an overactive thyroid, which can affect vision and behavior.

If senile cognitive dysfunction is suspected, your veterinarian might recommend a trial of Anipryl.

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