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Feline Dementia

Ugh. My cat was a stray when I got him. He was not a kitten. I've had him for a little over 14 years now, so he's probably at least 15, possibly older.

His behavior over the last couple of weeks has become more and more bizarre. Picture a cat in the terrible twos. He was acting out in such a way that he never had done before, and he's an elderly cat now. That didn't stop him from jumping on top of sinks and furniture like a kitten though. His back legs are a bit poor if he does anything drastic. He hasn't had a problem in that regard for quite a long time now.

Anyway, in the past two week he's started this howling routine. When I say howl, I mean HOWL! He starting to do it off and on beginning a few months ago, but it nothing too extreme. He would do it early in the morning, trying to wake everyone up in order to eat. Now, it's as loud as a newborn, and it goes on for hours, non-stop. He does in the daytime and nighttime. He gets everything he seems to want and need, but he's still acting bizarrely. He was attempting to climb up the walls, opening cabinets, trying to get to a high counter top, was attempting to climb up my side in the bathroom to get to the sink -- and he's one of those breeds that's really big. He's not eating now. He's drinking a lot. He seems to go to places where he wants something, like to get on top of the counter top, and then you put him up on it, and he then wants to get right down. It's like he doesn't remember what was doing. I wish I took a video of this, because I can't really paint an accurate picture. It is just so weird, so over-the-top, and so out of character. Remember, I've had him for over 14 years. I know him.

Back in October, I took him to the vet because he was drinking up a storm. I was prepared then to tell me he had diabetes. Everything came back fine. This is a really good vet too.

The one thing he hasn't done 'yet' is miss the litter box, but he was doing this thing, where he walked in and then out of his litter box, almost like it was in his way. He wasn't going to it to use it.

I know he has cataracts, but he's been checked for that a lot, and the vet doesn't seem to think it's that bad yet.

Either he has dementia, or he's going blind, or perhaps he's lost his hearing, and is howling to hear himself, I don't know.

He's not acting as though has some physical illness, like a fever, or anything like that, because he's not acting lethargic. It seems more neurological, IMO.

He's also eating very little. Almost like he may be forgetting to eat.

We were trying to get him to stop meowing on top of his lungs by using a water bottle. He stands there and let's you use it on him. He used to run from it. Then we tried to get a Dustbuster out, and vacuum the doorway where he was sitting. We showed it to him first, seeing if that would make him stop. Nothing. Nothing deters him. This doesn't seem to be a behavioral problem, like acting out of defiance. It just doesn't make sense. He's apparently at that age where 50% of cats develop dementia. He's being tested at the hospital now. I'm ready to hear that he has dementia, or maybe feline leukemia. It's heartbreaking.

So there's my tale of woe so far. Has anyone else been through this -- a cat with dementia? What behavior were they exhibiting? How did you treat it? I'm more so interested in what you did about the howling, if your cat was doing that.

I'm waiting for my neighbors to call CPS, thinking we're neglecting an infant.

by Cat Fancy reply 4309/04/2013

Sorry about your pussy, OP.

by Cat Fancy reply 103/05/2013

I don't think it's dementia. I think it's pain. That's how I act when I get a headache that won't go away.

by Cat Fancy reply 203/05/2013

He has/is developing kidney disease. Why didn't your vet tell you that?

by Cat Fancy reply 303/05/2013

I'm really sorry for both you and your cat. Has he been checked for hyperthyroidism? This is a common condition in older cats and it can cause them to meow a lot more.

Hasn't your vet counseled you about what your options are re dementia?

Anyway, good luck!

by Cat Fancy reply 403/05/2013

I guess I'll find out. He was checked for arthritis. Nothing there. He runs up and down stairs, so it can't be a broken bone. He's not sick in his litter box, or anywhere else, so I don't think it's a tummy ache. Every second that goes by, that's another dollar added to the hospital bill. lol

Ten years ago, he had a urinary issue. I took him to the hospital. It was Thanksgiving night. They kept him for testing. I called back the next morning and was informed that he was in "Oxygen". All I could say was, "Oookay, is that really bad?" "Oh no, he's fine." It started to sound as if he was at a spa. I imagined him getting his claws filed.

by Cat Fancy reply 503/05/2013

I wonder if the cat forgets your not around and frantically tries looking for you. It sounds like he's drinking a lot because you are there with the water bottle and he's placated. Is he able to use its box or is it having accidents (i.e. not finding it)? Is he not eating because he can't find his food or he just "meh" about it?

by Cat Fancy reply 603/05/2013

*forgets you're around

by Cat Fancy reply 703/05/2013

r3, the vet did tell me that he had the "beginnings" of that, but nothing that required extensive treatment yet. r4, yes, he was checked. I had a vet appointment for tomorrow, but I just was too worried to wait, so I rushed him to the hospital tonight. Whatever is going on, whatever issue he has, this is going to be the first I'm told, and the treatment he should have thereafter.

He is actually the first pet I had since childhood. I think I had goldfish and stuff, but that's about it. I wasn't allowed a dog. 14 years is a long time. He's been there through all different stages of my life.

by Cat Fancy reply 803/05/2013

r6, he's not missing the litter box. The food -- sometimes he'll go up to it, take a a few bites, and then walk away. I've tried all different kinds of foods too, thinking he just didn't like it anymore. I had him on a special diet due to a urinary problem he had ten years ago. It was the same food he was having everyday. I know cats like routine. I thought maybe it was a bad bag, so I bought another. The same thing happened. I tried giving him wet food. Again, he wasn't interested. Then I thought about giving him a piece of chicken I was having one night. He ate that. I tried it again the next night, he didn't want it. I was getting concerned about his not eating. He eats a little bit, but not the way he used to. In fact, a few years ago, the vet told me that he was overweight. I went to the vet last October, and she's concerned that he's underweight. We can't win.

by Cat Fancy reply 903/05/2013

I wuntz morfeen!

by Cat Fancy reply 1003/05/2013

OP, have you tried Googling these things? There are probably pet-oriented forums where pet health issues/experiences are discussed, that may help you more than asking about your cat here.

by Cat Fancy reply 1103/05/2013

OP the howling is almost certainly a sign that he's losing / has lost his hearing. That hapened to both my family cats at around that age. The good news is that this howling stage doesn't last too long, and they adjust pretty well to the hearing loss. Just try not to surprise him by sneaking up on him or petting him while he sleeps.

by Cat Fancy reply 1203/05/2013

Wow, my cat has been howling for the last couple of years. She uses the litter box and then comes out howling like a banshee. At first I thought it hurt her to go to the bathroom, but she doesn't do it while she's in the box. Also she seems kind of playful, jumping up the side of the door while yowling. She stops when I call to her. Sometimes I have to call a lot. I thought she was just missing her mate. It started when he died.

She's 15. She absolutely doesn't seem demented. But she might be going deaf.

A few years ago she was peeing up a storm and I took her expecting a diabetes diagnosis. None. She had a UTI then.

She goes through eating less and then eating well. So some of what you're going through. I worry about her all the time. Worry I'll come home and find she's passed. She stays in her bed a lot and gets up to eat, drink and use the bathroom. She's very affectionate.

Anyway, found this.

by Cat Fancy reply 1303/05/2013

And this.

by Cat Fancy reply 1403/05/2013

It has to be kidney disease. My neighbor's cat was meowing (though admittedly not howling) at all hours. It was soooo annoying, but I love the little guy and hated hearing him in pain. Turned out to be kidney disease.

by Cat Fancy reply 1503/05/2013

My vet says she doesn't have kidney disease. She's not overpeeing anymore either.

by Cat Fancy reply 1603/05/2013

I had a precious cat years ago that had a stroke shortly after she turned nine years old.

The stroke certainly changed her personality, but worse she was no longer able to swallow, and I had to tearfully make the decision two days later to put her down.

If I think about her for too long, I can still shed a tear now 15 years later.

Miss you Gracie!

by Cat Fancy reply 1703/05/2013

Just came back from the hospital. He had to be put down. He was in really bad shape. It was renal failure. Apparently, the blood test they did didn't even register. That's apparently really bad. They believe that he may have had some sort of pancreas issue on top of it. They were very professional and nice. I'll be getting his ashes.

Thanks to everyone who chimed in on here.

What a night.

Like I said, my vet had said that there were signs that he was at the earliest stage of renal disease. That was in October. I guess it can happen that quickly?

Again, thanks guys.

by Cat Fancy reply 1803/05/2013

Sorry OP.

by Cat Fancy reply 1903/05/2013

Sorry for your loss.

by Cat Fancy reply 2003/05/2013

Thanks. First time I witnessed an animal being put to sleep. I saw a video of it one time, but never experienced it with a pet of mine. It kind of freaked me it when they gave him the first injection to sedate him, he sort of flopped down and to the side.

by Cat Fancy reply 2103/05/2013

:( So sorry, OP. But he lived a good life for 14+ years because of you.

by Cat Fancy reply 2203/05/2013


by Cat Fancy reply 2303/05/2013

Hugs for you, R17.

It's hard to let matter how long it's been, nor how compassionate/humane the decision was.

by Cat Fancy reply 2403/05/2013

Shit, OP. I'm shocked and so sorry. I lost my cat two years ago around this time due to her old age. I'll never forget how much she enriched not just my life, but all those she managed to cuddle up to or entertain.

by Cat Fancy reply 2503/05/2013

This has helped me through the loss of all my friends/pets. So sorry for your loss.

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Author unknown...

by Cat Fancy reply 2603/05/2013

I've lost two cats to renal failure. Seems like if a cat gets old enough, they usually get it. I currently have an elderly cat who's going through the beginning stages. Subcutaneous fluids help with the dehydration. Howling is very common with renal, hyperthyroidism, and deafness.

One thing to watch out for with renal disease is that they can go blind suddenly from detached retinas when their blood pressure goes up. If you can get them to the vet quickly, the blindness can be reversed.

End stage renal failure is pretty miserable for them. My vet says it probably feels like really bad flu, but keeps getting worse. At that point, you have to do the merciful thing and put them down.

by Cat Fancy reply 2703/05/2013

I felt bad in the aftermath... they brought him back in after having had an IV put in him. He waited while the doctor was getting her stuff prepared. When she finally came in, she asked me if I wanted some time alone. I said no (I had been waiting with him then), but now I have that sinking feeling that I could have given him some more time and said yes to her. Stupid, I know, but us humans are like that sometimes. I felt more like I wanted to get it over with, which makes me feel a bit guilty.

He also had pancreatitis. The doctor said that she couldn't even touch his stomach. That was probably what was so painful for him. I just read that the pancreas begins to digest itself! WTF?!

She wasn't sure what came first, the renal failure or the pancreatitis. He was probably just breaking down physically, although you still would have never known it besides the yowling, and jumping up on tables, and all sorts of stuff he knew he wasn't suppose to do. He was extremely physical. This was obviously a cry for help. 10 years ago, when he had urinary crystals, he went down the basement, and hid in a corner. He looked like he was on his way out then. That's how I saw him sick. That was my reference point. It's obviously the reason why I didn't catch it this time, which is supposedly very common with pet owners. By the time signs start to show when it comes to renal failure, it can be too late.

I've heard that renal failure is actually not the worst pain in the world. It's said that it feels like you constantly have to go to the bathroom, but can't. Some cats even start missing the litter box. He wasn't doing any of that, and he was urinating.

I read that their blood pressure starts going out of whack, and it feels like a hangover. Oh, god, the thing about going blind because of this, sends chills down my spin. I hope that wasn't happening to him. It seems very likely that had I waited until today to take him from the vet, he could have had a heart attack or a seizure during the night.

He was most likely 15 years old, and that seems to be a usual age for cats to have issues like renal failure. I think cats have a 50% chance of getting it once they hit 15.

It's still so weird though. The worst part right now is the image of him keeling over with the first injection given to sedate him. I was ready to leap into paternal action to protect him. This little bugger had me trained.

I got rid of his litter box, water and food bowls, etc. That was also really strange, but I had to do it.

Right when one of the nurses brought him in before the doctor came in to put him to sleep, she hands me his ID collar, which also had his little picture on it. I know she meant no harm, but I kept thinking, Jesus, there are many people who would breakdown just over that. It's like, 'Here, you're pet's not planning to go home. Okay, now let's pet him down.'

I haven't cried. It's just going to feel weird today, and tomorrow, and the next day. I'm so used to getting up to feed him. It's been a routine for 14 years. He was my first pet. My mother asked me if I was going to get another cat right away -- this is as I had been dumping the bowls and stuff. I was silent, probably giving a bit of the stink eye. lol

Has anyone gotten their animals cremated? He's getting cremated. I've heard that a lot of times those ashes aren't only your pet's, or not your pet's at all. I guess I'll pretend that it's him. Oh, god, is it going to come in a little cat urn? That's as depressing as one of those coffins made for children.

Well, I'm not going to be my grandfather who had his dog put to sleep in his arms, in his home, and vowed never to get another animal again because of it. I know I'll get another pet eventually.

by Cat Fancy reply 2803/05/2013

My male cat always drank way too much water. When he was dying of kidney disease, he stopped eating and would sit up suddenly doing this heartbreaking, unearthly yowl. He finally just wasted and I had to put him down. Just FYI.

by Cat Fancy reply 2903/06/2013

OP, I am so sorry.

It sounds like had a good life with you, a good life he may not have otherwise had.

And what more could a cat ask for?

by Cat Fancy reply 3003/06/2013

OP - I requested an individual cremation over a "community" cremation and received my cat's ashes alone. Community means any number of animals could be included. It was about $100 more. I received the ashes in a rosewood box with a floral pattern carved in the lid.

by Cat Fancy reply 3103/06/2013

I was looking back at his files from years ago, and they said back then that they though he was about three at the time -- this was the year that I got him. So he was thought to have been born in 1995. For some reason that makes me feel a bit better. I had him a little over 14 years, and that's a good life, but adding a couple of years more, that's even better. I wish I didn't have to put him to sleep, but what else could I do?

I honestly don't know how people schedule their pets to be put to sleep in advance. I would be a nervous wreck, counting down to D-Day.

He didn't act like an elderly cat. It might have been a bit easier if I saw him actually getting older, displaying that he was wearing down. This might have prepared me a bit more. He was actually acting more like a kitten. He was a big Maine Coon cat. I picked him up two days ago, and he was so thin. I knew he had lost weight, but not that much. Maine Coons have so much hair, that they can hide their weight a bit.

As I didn't schedule for him to be put to sleep, having it done all in one day was the best for at least me. Dragging it out would have given me a nervous breakdown -- yes, I know, MARY! I actually thought I heard him yowling during the night. I guess it was from how many days it went on for. The doctors also said that they didn't know if he had had cancer. I did have a check up for him back in October, so I wasn't negligent.

The year he was most likely born, I wasn't even a teenager yet. That puts things in perspective for me. He lived a long full life.

by Cat Fancy reply 3203/06/2013

You did the right thing, and that cat at least didn't have an agonising death. Sounds like you adored him, and I'm sure he knew it. I have been in your situation and it's so very painful, but don't run through 'what if' over and over, it will do you no good. Run through the happy times and remember that it is a very special thing to have an animal in your life.

by Cat Fancy reply 3303/06/2013

Wow, so sorry Op. I teared up reading your story. Sounds like he had a pretty good life and at least he knew you were there with him in his last moments.

by Cat Fancy reply 3403/06/2013

So sorry for the loss of your sweet boy.

by Cat Fancy reply 3503/06/2013

The best way to honor his life is to go to a shelter or a petco and get a rescue cat and give that cat a good life.

by Cat Fancy reply 3603/06/2013

[quote]I felt more like I wanted to get it over with, which makes me feel a bit guilty.

There's always something we second-guess ourselves about. It seems to be part of the process.

Once I decided I needed to put my dog down, I wanted it done quickly. I said goodbye to him, but he was in so much pain he was barely aware I was there. I wanted to end that pain for him, because I felt it was what I owed him. Afterward, I questioned myself, whether I should have opted for surgery to keep him around longer. I finally went online and found a site where pet owners talked about the disease my dog had and their experience with it. Every single one of them said if they had known what they were doing to their dogs, they would have opted for euthanasia as soon as they got a diagnosis. You might have the same experience if you go searching later.

I'm so sorry, OP. It's never easy but rest assured you did the right thing for your cat.

by Cat Fancy reply 3703/06/2013

You were good for each other. It is hard to lose a four-legged friend. Sorry for your loss

by Cat Fancy reply 3803/06/2013

Dear OP, I just lost my female kitty to renal failure and she was 18 y/o.

She woke up blind on the day I put her down, and it broke my heart.

I took her unused food to a shelter a couple of days later, and a beautiful young female cat chose me in spite of my determination not to get another cat.

She's very different from the kitty I lost but she has captured my heart completely.

Give love another chance if it knocks on your heart's door.

by Cat Fancy reply 3903/06/2013

I looked at his form, he was down to 7 lbs! This is a big Maine Coon cat mind you! The vet, back in October, was worried then that he lost 4 lbs, and was sitting at a good 10. He was definitely on his way out. :(

Oh, and I did get the expensive cremation where it's *suppose* to be his individual ashes. I saw the other option which you can get your pet's and others. Um, who would want that? Cheaper, I know, but seriously.

Now I'm going to have to look for a kitty urn. They gave me a pamphlet. Some of these places allow you to go to the facility. The services they provide are the same as those when its a human's death. There's even support groups.

Again, they had down, thanks to estimation, that he was born in 1995. I wasn't even a teenager then. That really surprises me. He was around THAT long ago. I got him in 1998.

The doctor who administered the final injection couldn't have been sweeter. She was almost new-agey. When she gave him the final injection, she took out her stethoscope and then said, "He's passed." How theatrical.

He had been spending his, what would be his last days, sleeping on my baby blanket. He was brought to the hospital with it. When they brought him in, he was wrapped in it like a baby. They asked me if they wanted it back, but I told them to keep it. When they first brought him in, he was vicious. They had to take him away while we waited for the doctor. This was after his IV was placed in. You could hear him yowling when they initially took him. The experience could not have been worse. When you start hearing that stuff, you don't feel as bad putting them to sleep. He was obviously in a lot of pain. It's a pretty tragic, yet interesting experience.

For those of you with animals, how many have you put to sleep?

by Cat Fancy reply 4003/06/2013

I think I am here to tonight with my baby. She is 19 yrs old, all of them spent with me. She has been living with Crf for about four yrs now; she had a very bad weekend and spent Sun and Mon and most of Tue at the vet getting fluids, K, electrolytes, but I have not seen any real improvement. This is fucking agonzing to watch. She was fine on Sun morning and then just collapsed at 1pm.

I am terrified of saying goodbye to her, and the knowledge that I have to makes all of this 20 times more devastating.

Although she is now not interested in her food, she did ravenously dig into a can of tuna- her favorite- earlier. Now she is resting in her carrier, which she usually hates. I dread the call/trip to the vet in the morning. He has offered to put her on an IV to see how she responds to that but I dont think I can bear to be away from her anymore in what seem to be her last days. I missed her SO terribly while she was gone over the weekend. Fuck, I just had to take a xanax.

by Cat Fancy reply 4109/04/2013

Sorry for your loss, OP.

by Cat Fancy reply 4209/04/2013

I'm so sorry for your loss, OP, and for yours R17...I lost my beloved kitty in June and I literally have to not think about him or I will cry. I will say that when I got another cat (another rescue) it really helped. He's a fantastic cat, I lucked out with two in a row - just really special animals.

I know it takes some people years, others days, it all depends...but it helped so much not to have a silent house, with no other kitties around...he seems to know I need comforting, and I spoil him to death - we've bonded really fast.

It really is a terrible pain to lose a pet, especially one you've had for so long, through so many changes. That's what my little guy was to me, and I still miss him every day.

by Cat Fancy reply 4309/04/2013
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