Sunday, July 06, 2008

It's Mealtime (All over again)

I mentioned our cat Scrunchy recently, he of the lost and found adventure, who eventually turned up in our neighbor's garage after a 5 day journey away from home.

Scrunchy is a very particular (read that: picky) cat. He has his favorite food and doesn't appreciate variety. He likes the Fancy Feast (sliced) assortment of canned cat food, so he's not too happy if you try to substitute something else. He'll nibble at some dry food if you insist (and once in a while he's try a taste of the dog's food), but that doesn't take the place of his Fancy Feast. He also has his internal clock set to eat at 6 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. (assuming anyone's home at that time). From about 3:30 on, he'll wait in the gazebo for someone to come home & as soon as he sees us, he'll start meowing until he's fed.

Scrunchy is now over 10 years old and one of his more recent tendencies is to eat, take off for a little while (inside or outside, depending on the weather) and then turn back up, looking for his meal again. On occasion, if we ignore him, he'll start howling for food, even though he's just been fed. This is a new phenomenon. Before, he ate his cat food, then was fine until his next meal. It's been a running joke at out house that he's losing it and that he forgot that he already ate his meal. In fact, when he went missing this last time, my husband was concerned that he left, wandered off somewhere and forgot where his home was.

Although we often have joked about Scrunchy having Alzheimer's, I didn't really think that dogs or cats suffered from the disease. However, an article in the Inky suggests that animals, like humans, can suffer from dementia. Pets too can have these aged related diseases like cognitive dysfunction syndrome, more commonly known as dementia, Dogs in decline:

First recognized in dogs in the early 1990s, the disease causes progressive cognitive and behavioral decline. Changes in the canine brain mirror those seen in people suffering from dementias such as Alzheimer's disease.

Cats get dementia as well, though they are diagnosed less frequently, perhaps because felines are less social. Similar deterioration has been seen in the brains of aging rodents, sheep, goats, bears and primates.

Dementia in pets is apparently fairly common and the main symptoms are:
Animals with dementia appear generally confused. The main abnormalities, known by the acronym DISH (Disorientation, Interaction declines, Sleep-wake disturbances, Housetraining lapses), can take varied forms: the rottweiler that stops responding to its name. The poodle that paces all night and sleeps all day. The domestic short-haired cat that stares into space, howling for no apparent reason. The boxer that waits at the hinge side of the door to go outside.
See also: Does Your Pet Have Dementia?. The list doesn't mention forgetting that he's just been fed, but I assume that qualifies. He's always been a bit of a recluse otherwise, so it's hard to tell if any of the other signs are there.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi. As a fellow cat lover (Buttercup Elizabeth), I know you did not mean any harm when you joked that Scrunchy had Alzheimer's.

My mother, however, had Alzheimer's for at least 12 years, and there's nothing funny about it. In fact, it's a nightmare.

People don't joke about people having breast cancer or leukemia. I don't know why it's done with Alzheimer's. It shouldn't be.