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Most of us want to live to a ripe old age. And with age comes wisdom, but at some point, we all slow down. Some of us will have or care for a loved one with dementia, which becomes more likely after age 65.

But what about cats? It may be surprising to learn that felines can have dementia, too. Here’s a story about a lovable older cat named Ichi, who is living her best life with the condition. Cats over age 15 have a higher risk of developing the condition, but a quarter of cats between 11-14 may as well.

Ichi, the 20-year-old Kitty with Dementia

An EM Doctor from the UK, Dr. Harriet, shared a viral TikTok of her Mum’s cat, Ichi. At age 20, the kitty is frail with dementia and arthritis. Nevertheless, she stays happy overall, especially when her favorite human is around!

Just look at the love shared between these two!

Ichi love her Mom more than anything

Ichi loves her Mom more than anything. Screenshots via TikTok/drharriet

In the video, you can see the kitty is begging for cuddles from Harriet’s mother. After the video, the two shared a big cuddle (see below).

“Our 20-year-old cat has dementia and doesn’t know where she is but loves my Mum more than anything in the world.”

Video via TikTok/drharriet

Signs of Dementia in Cats

Over 6.6 million people saw the video, and many didn’t realize that cats could develop dementia just like us. Harriet says signs include ‘sunrise meowing,’ which means the kitty might be more confused in the mornings. In people, it’s a lot like ‘sundowning,‘ a period of increased confusion around dusk, possibly due to ‘a mixed up internal clock.’ And, the need for sleep is also less.

Nightlights can help older cats, including those with dementia, find their way around and regulate their sleep cycles. Soft music can help too. In the morning, open the shades for light to help them maintain their biorhythms.

Ichi tends to follow around her human all the time, and seems to forget what she was doing. Otherwise, she’s happy and has ‘good moments of lucidity,’ says Harriet.

20 year old cat Ichi with dementia, Dr. Harriet

One way that Harriet helps Ichi is by being very gentle and allowing her set the tone for interactions. Her arthritis means touch is sensitive, and she may not remember who is around her. So touching her could be startling or painful. It’s similar to how one should approach any unfamiliar cat to be sure they are comfortable being touched.

“She’s 20, has dementia, arthritis and overall is very frail (but happy!). Because she lives with my Mum, I’m not sure if she remembers me that well, and I don’t want to stress her out. It’s okay to be gentle with older pets and wait for their body language cues ❤️,” Harriet explained.

Video via TikTok/drharriet

Another way to help is making it easier for the cat to access their litter box, food, and water. Thus, they may do better in a smaller area, especially at night. Keeping their environment stable without big changes helps them avoid anxiety. At the same time, they also benefit from stimulation, such as a treat puzzle or ball to fidget with.

Talk to your vet about other ways to help, such as vitamin supplements and medications, if necessary. Although there’s no cure, you can help them stay comfortable and feel less stressed.

As always, lots of love is always the best medicine!

Dr. Harriet with Ichi

Dr. Harriet with Ichi

Ichi Can Do Whatever She Wants

At Ichi’s age, “she can do whatever she wants,” Harriet says. For example, the kitty had two bowls of fresh water but decided to get all wet in the sink instead. It was harmless fun, and she evidently enjoys the sensation of being in the water. 

“She went straight back under when I gently moved her head. That was obviously more fun,” said Harriet.

The latest update from February shows Ichi is doing well. Although she’s lost some weight, she is bright-eyed and happy. Everyone online loves her, and Harriet says Ichi sends us love back!

“The little old lady loves you all back,” shared Dr. Harriet.

 

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