Cognitive dysfunction in cats: update on neuropathological and behavioural changes plus clinical management

Lorena Sordo Sordo, Danielle Gunn-Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) is an established condition in cats that shares many similarities with human Alzheimer’s disease (AD), where cognitive decline ultimately results in dementia. Cats with CDS display behavioural abnormalities, including excessive Vocalisation, altered Interaction with owners (increased affection/attention), altered Sleep-wake cycles, House-soiling, Disorientation (spatial and/or temporal), alterations in Activity, Anxiety, and/or Learning/memory deficits (i.e. VISHDAAL). These cats develop neuropathologies, such as accumulation of β-amyloid and hyperphosphorylated tau deposits. Because of its similarities to those in the brains of people with cognitive impairment and AD, the domestic cat could be a natural model for human dementia studies. It is important to diagnose CDS promptly in cats, ruling out other causes for these behavioural changes, to provide effective management. Interventions include environmental enrichment (e.g., easy access to key resources, calming pheromones), dietary supplementations (e.g., Senilife™, Aktivait for cats™, SAMe), specific diets (e.g., containing antioxidants, medium-chain triglycerides) and, potentially, medication (e.g., selegiline or propentofylline). This article reviews the literature about CDS in cats, its causes, neuropathology, clinical signs, diagnosis and potential management options. By doing so, it furthers our understanding of this condition and allows improved health, welfare and quality of life of affected cats.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere3
JournalVeterinary Record
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jan 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • behaviour
  • amyloid‐β
  • cognitive dysfunction syndrome
  • diagnosis
  • management
  • tau deposits


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