Senile dementia in cats is quite common, although it’s not quite as common knowledge. I came across a question in one of the forums from an owner asking what happens when a cat goes senile. She went on to describe symptoms that she said seemed to be dementia, but she said she’d never heard of cat dementia before. Well, it does exist, but not many people know this. That’s why I thought it would be a great subject to discuss today.


How to Spot Senile Dementia in Cats

First, let’s talk about senile dementia in cats. As cats age, they become more prone to both physical and mental issues. Although it’s easy to spot physical symptoms like weight loss, stiff joints, and possible urinary tract issues, it’s much more difficult to spot senile dementia. That’s because cats are extremely stoic animals, and even the most friendly cat sleeps a lot. Senile dementia is often mistaken for other physical issues because of the symptoms.

Senile Dementia Symptoms

That being said, let’s take a look at the symptoms of senile dementia in spots. Be aware that these symptoms may also be indicative of other physical issues, so if your cat has any of these, it’s important to get him to the vet and have a thorough checkup.


One of the hallmarks of senile dementia in cats, dogs, or even humans is confusion. While it’s easy to spot confusion in humans, and to a lesser degree, dogs, it can be more difficult to recognize it in cats. Look for signs of confusion such as not using the litter box, excessive roaming, lack of appetite, or not using their favorite napping spot.

Aversion to Affection

Love bug cats generally keep that desire to be petted, held, and generally cuddled throughout their lives. If your cat has classically been a cuddler, but you find that he is starting to avoid contact or become easily irritated, this could be a sign of senile dementia.


While vocalization in dogs is usually attributable to pain, cats are more likely to vocalize due to senile dementia. Cats are stoic creatures, and they don’t normally vocalize due to pain. As cats move into senile dementia, they will become more and more vocal as they become more and more confused and unsure. This will generally increase at night, as the cat will be more restless and even more confused due to the darkness.


This sign of senile dementia can be a bit harder to spot. Cats are notorious sleepers to begin with, so you’ll really need to watch out for this symptom. Even though all cats sleep their days away, if you notice that your cat is sleeping even more than usual and is becoming less and less active, it could be a sign of senile dementia. It’s important to remember that this sign should be considered in conjunction with other symptoms, as older cats become less mobile whether they’re senile or not.


Like sleeping, cats are synonymous with self-cleaning. If you spot your cat at any time of day, chances are he’s cleaning himself. One of the big signs of senile dementia is your cat starting to take on a “ratty” appearance. If you notice that your older cat is not grooming himself like he used to, it could be a sign of senile dementia.

Senile Dementia Symptoms Could be Something Else

If you notice one or more of these symptoms, it’s important to take your at in to see the vet right away. Although these signs could be indicative of senile dementia, they could also signal other physical ailments. A thorough checkup at the vet will help you determine if your cat has senile dementia or something else and how to best go about treating whatever may be giving your cat a problem.

Have you already learned what happens when a cat goes senile? Share your experiences and advice below.


Ben is an animal lover, blogger, and all around geek. He divides his love equally between his family, his animals, and his video games. In his spare time he is attempting to get a blog off the ground. Boy, are they heavy!