Q: My 19-year-old domestic shorthair cat named Andi is my sweet companion who I’ve had her since she was 5 days old, and I adore her. My cat sometimes seems confused. She wanders around the house late at night, crying. I often find her facing a corner crying her little heart out. Why is she doing this and what can I do to help her?
A: Considering that Andi is 19 years old, her behavior is not unusual. Senior cats often develop cognitive challenges. Sometimes they become confused and lost in familiar areas — often they vocalize excessively. Some activities can help Andi adjust and possibly slow down the cognitive decline.
Get a Vet’s Help
Take your cat to her veterinarian for a geriatric exam. In addition to cognitive issues, some diseases cause cats to vocalize excessively.
Cultivate a Cat’s Space
Limit the areas your cat goes at night so that she won’t become confused. Close doors and keep her in one area of your home — preferably where you sleep and hang out. Put nightlights in the halls and bedrooms. These will help orient Andi, minimizing her confusion.
Stay the Same
Consistency can help cats feel less anxious. Feed your cat, play and do other activities Andi enjoys at the same times every day.
Keep up the Activity
Mental and physical stimulation may help slow down cognitive decline. Play with your cat everyday—always keep in mind her age and limitations. Treasure hunts are usually a hit. Place treats your cat adores around the room, on cat trees, shelves and in toys. Andi will have to locate and work for her treats. Clicker training is also mentally stimulating, fun and will focus your cat on learning new behaviors. Although your cat does not have to learn complicated tricks, you will find that with practice and repetition, Andi will learn more complex behaviors.
You have taken great care of Andi throughout her life and both of you have benefited from each others companionship. Thank you for that, I love hearing about cats who live long, happy lives.