Alzheimers Disease in Cats

Researchers find the same protein in cats that causes this form of dementia in humans

A study from the University of Journal of Feline Medicine, showed that a key protein can build in nerve cells of a cat’s brain and cause mental deterioration. It’s actually a form of Alzheimer’s disease, say the researchers, and it’s the same protein that causes tangles in nerve cells in human Alzheimer’s patients.

Dr. Danielle Gunn-Moore, at the University of Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, says: “This newly discovered protein is crucial to our understanding of the aging process in cats. We’ve known for a long time that cats develop dementia, but this study tells us that the cat’s neural system is being compromised in a similar fashion to that we see in human Alzheimer’s sufferers.”

With better veterinary care, the lifespan of cats is increasing, and with that comes a higher chance of dementia. “Recent studies suggest that 28% of pet cats aged 11 to 14 years develop at least one old-age related behaviour problem and this increases to more than 50% for cats over the age of 15,” says Dr.Gunn-Moore.

As with humans, a good diet, mental stimulation, and companionship can help reduce the risk of dementia in cats. Dr.Moore explains: “If humans and their cats live in a poor environment with little company and stimulation, they are both at higher risk of dementia. However, if the owner plays with the cat, it is good for both human and cat. A good diet enriched with antioxidants is also helpful in warding off dementia, so a cat owner sharing healthy meals like chicken and fish with their pet will benefit themboth.”