Is your elderly cat mad at you? A strange phenomenon you need to be prepared for

Szénási Szimonetta

2024. March 26 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

As your pet ages, you may experience changes in many areas that are not necessarily pleasant. Here's what you can do to make things easier!


If you’ve been a cat owner for a long time, you may notice that just like humans, time leaves its mark on them too. It’s not uncommon for your elderly cat to behave unusually. However, it’s important to distinguish between normal physiological changes and pathological problems. It’s also important to know how to make their late years as comfortable as possible.

An elderly cat can be very different, but some things are not physiological

Forgetfulness and aggression

As animals age, not only do their senses decline, but so does their memory. As a result, they may bump into furniture or forget where their litter box is located, as warned by the WebMD veterinary site.

Additionally, behavioral changes are not uncommon. Your once affectionate, cuddly cat may suddenly become distrustful and aggressive even towards its owner.

In most cases, behind these signs of aging lies cognitive dysfunction, known as Feline Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (FCD).

As experts detail, FCD affects more than half of cats aged between 11 and 15, and around 85% of cats over 16 years old.

The disease affects memory, making it difficult for them to learn new things. It also affects the quality of hearing and vision, and can lead to sleep problems, anxiety, and depression.

When the following symptoms occur, it is recommended to visit the veterinarian:

  • confusion or spatial disorientation;
  • difficulty navigating obstacles such as furniture;
  • aimless wandering;
  • the animal gets lost even in familiar surroundings;
  • empty gaze, staring;
  • wandering;
  • memory problems;
  • not recognizing family members or other pets;
  • not using the litter box;
  • restless, agitated, irritable;
  • changed vocalizations;
  • neglect of grooming;
  • loss of appetite;
  • changed sleeping habits;
  • lack of interest in beloved things;
  • excessive clinginess.

It’s important to emphasize that these symptoms could also indicate various other problems, such as reacting to chronic pain. Therefore, it’s essential for the vet to investigate and uncover the source of the problem. From arthritis to eye diseases to various hormonal imbalances, many things can cause similar symptoms.

How to make life easier for your pet

If it turns out that FCD is behind the unusual behavior, although it’s not curable, as a pet owner, there are many ways you can improve the overall condition of your elderly cat.

  1. Don’t obstruct your cat’s movements with too much furniture.
  2. Place several low-sided litter boxes around the house.
  3. Maintain a fixed daily routine.
  4. Provide a comfortable, warm resting place. A quiet environment can also help with peaceful sleep.
  5. Feed and give them water in the same place and at the same time every day.
  6. Avoid any major changes in the cat’s life. For example, a new pet could be very stressful for them.
  7. Pheromone-based products can also help with relaxation.
  8. Emotionally support them; if they crave solitude, respect that, but cuddle and pamper them when they’re in an affectionate mood.
  9. Help them with grooming by regularly brushing them and cleaning if necessary.
  10. Consult with your veterinarian about the optimal diet, and take your elderly friend for a check-up at least every six months!
cognitive dysfunction syndrome memory old cat strange behaviour

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