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C2003-42

Dear Christopher Cat

I read your column about using Anipryl in cats with senile cognitive dysfunction – senility. My veterinarian is reluctant to prescribe Anipryl for Maude, my aged cat, because it has been studied in so few cats.

He did a physical and lab work but could find nothing to account for Maude’s behavior changes. The biggest problems are nighttime howling and inconsistent use of the litter box.

Do you have any other ideas?

Christopher Responds

First, try some environmental changes. If these aren’t effective, ask your veterinarian to refer Maude to a veterinary behaviorist.

Leave night lights on at night, because Maude might not see well and may be howling because she has lost her way to your room, her food or the litter box. Be sure the litter box is well lit.

Another possibility is that Maude might want to get into bed with you, or perhaps onto the windowsill to smell the night air. If she can no longer jump that high, place a ramp or some large pillows at strategic locations to help her.

If the only litter box is in the basement, add a box to each of the other floors of the house. Old bones don’t like to navigate basement steps, especially in the dark.

Sometimes the sides of litter boxes are just too high for older cats. Try using a cafeteria tray or the lid of a cardboard box as a litter box. Place newspapers around the box to help make cleanup easier.

Aside from these changes, try not to alter Maude’s lifestyle too much. Change, such as adding another cat to the family, is stressful and usually worsens senile cognitive dysfunction.

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