Skip to main content

Life With A Demented Cat.

Ever since he was just a little kitten Otto has been one of the most social cats I've ever met. He always wanted to be near people, sitting on everyone's lap or throwing himself on his back in front of you demanding you to rub his belly. He used to come to sleep on my stomach as soon as I went to bed and in the morning he was sound asleep next to my feet at the end of the bed. He wanted to be so near that it sometimes got even a bit annoying, like trying to lie down on my laptop keyboard to get my undivided attention. 

He was also one of the kindest animals around, always in a good mood and never biting, scratching or acting up. He was gentle, jovial, calm and very affectionate and always so easy to handle.

During the past year or so he started to change. Not overnight but the changes in his behavior and temperament were slow to happen, so that it took me a long time to even notice he had changed at all. It's also hard to say when the symptoms started as they worsened little by little, gradually, during a long period of time.

The first thing we noticed was his inability to find our kitchen. We had moved to a new apartment, and the floor plan was almost identical to our previous home, except that the kitchen was on the other side of the apartment. Every time Otto was hungry and wanted food he ran to the wrong room - the "old kitchen" before hurrying to the right one. Sometimes I found him sitting in the "place his bowl used to be" and had to pick him up and carry to the right room. We just thought it was kind of funny and used to laugh at him, not thinking it could be a sign of anything more serious. We had also remarked his greying fur and started to affectionately call  him "grandpa cat".

He then started to get cranky and restless often pacing around the house without any real destination. He started to rip magazines and claw all the doors, probably mostly to get attention, but annoying nonetheless.

He also became more and more antisocial preferring to sleep alone in our bedroom through the day (only getting up to eat). He stopped sleeping with us preferring the sofa for his nighttime sleep. He seemed to loose grasp of the time becoming more nocturnal - I would often wake up in the middle of the night to hear his steps around the house and him meowing alone in the dark.

He demanded food all the time but when offered refused to eat anything. He acted like he was dying of hunger being really vocal and anxious about it even though his bowl might be full of food he had left untouched or he had just finished eating. On rare occasions he might even get aggressive although he has never attacked any of us.

Last November I felt like I had had enough. Otto was terrorizing the whole family and his nighttime antics left me sleep deprived. We started to discuss his future and as horrible of putting him down sounded we agreed that this couldn't continue anymore. I had always thought our cats would die of old age and Otto is not even 11 years old yet, so I felt like the worst person ever even discussing it. I didn't think it's OK to put down a perfectly healthy animal just because he is annoying

Then one day I was talking to my friend and telling her everything that was going on, when I said that Otto was like a cranky old man and compared him to a person suffering from Alzheimer's. As soon as I had said those words it felt like all the pieces had fallen into place. It seemed to explain everything about his recent behavior and change in temperament. I did a lot of research and talked to a vet, and yes, it is possible for a cat to get Alzheimer's (though for cats it's not called Alzheimer's, but Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome). It's also very common for cats of age ten and over to get different memory disorders and dementia. Recent research from the University of Edinburgh found that half of all cats over the age of 15 and a third of those aged 11 to 14 suffer from dementia. It had never before even occurred to me that animals could suffer from memory loss as well.

There is no cure for the disease. It runs it's own course but we can try making Otto's daily life easier for him. After diagnosing his condition I've become more patient with him - it's easier for me to think he is cranky about his food because he has already forgotten he just ate than him being malicious - and tried to keep him more active and social on a daily basis making sure he gets his share of playtime and cuddles and kisses. It is very important to keep everything as routine as possible and try to predict his needs before he gets ill-humored or fretful. I think our life has become a lot calmer lately and Otto seems much more content again even if he does still have bad days every now and then. 

Getting his diagnosis has been a great relief and we are now adjusting our lives and trying to find a way to live with a demented cat. It has also been relieving to know that our beloved pet hasn't just suddenly become this evil alter ego but there is a understandable explanation behind it all. At the moment we are not thinking about putting him down anymore but instead try to find ways to take care of his special needs and give him a happy retirement. It has been sad to realize that the day we have to say good-bye to him might come sooner than we thought (Otto's grandmother-cat lived to become 19 years old, and I've always naively assumed he would live to be at least as old.)

Sometimes when he is pacing from room to room and from door to door Otto might stop in front of me and I would notice he has a weird expression on his face, a questioning one, as if he is thinking "where am I?" or "what is happening?" Magnus said he had seen Otto watching him with the same look, but he had interpreted it as "who are you?" It is just heartbreaking.


  1. Oh no, how heartbreaking :( I'm glad you know why his temperament changed though, I can imagine it must be such a relief even if it doesn't help his situation much. I just read his little bio in your sidebar, such a lovely story about where he comes from. Best wishes to Otto.

    1. Yeah, I think it's better to know, so at least we now can help him. Let's just hope the disease doesn't progress too fast and he would still have plenty of good years ahead of him. I'm just concerned how the arrival of the baby will affect him, because it will break all his usual routines....

  2. Your story is so sad and heartbreaking! I hope that you will find more solutions to help poor Otto.
    Best wishes and love!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Salut Chéri! Beret Pattern.

Here is the pattern for the berets I've knitted. The name for the beret is from the t-shirt I was wearing when I took the project photos of the first beret for Ravelry. I thought the name suited the beret, since it's quite classical take on the hat that has become the icon of everything French. Happy knitting!

Cloud Mittens - the Pattern part 1.

This is so long overdue, but I have now finally managed to write down the pattern for the Cloud mittens. Here it is, my Christmas present to all you guys! Enjoy!
(Here is the link to the pattern on Ravelry)

You need: 125 m or 135 yards of DK weight yarn (blue sample knit with Novita Wool, 100% wool, 135 m/ 50g) 125 m or 135 yards of sport weight yarn for the lining (blue sample: Garnstudio Drops Baby Alpaca Silk, 70% alpaca, 30% silk, 167 m/ 50 g) 
Needles: a set of 2.5 mm (US 1 1/2) DPNs or circular needles if you prefer Magic Loop method like me
Gauge: 16 stitches and 22 rows = 5 cm (2 inches)

To fit an average woman hand
Intermediate knitting skills required

(By Far) The Easiest Way to K4Tog.

I have published earlier a post on an easy way to k4tog - knit 4 stitches together - which is an essential stitch in my Cloud mitten pattern. As you might already know it is a bit challenging especially with 2.5 mm bamboo needles that not only have sharp tips but are bendy and especially prone to snapping. Stubborn as I am, I wasn't going to give up and change the design just to make it easier to knit. So I came up with the idea of using a tiny crochet hook to pull the working stitch through other three. 
I was planning to use this same method when knitting the second pair of Cloud mittens, but alas, I couldn't find the hook anywhere. I seem to have misplaced it and I just can't remember where I put it... And as you know I don't crochet often so the second smallest hook I had was size 3.5 mm which didn't work for this purpose for obvious reasons. 
So I was back to square one trying to figure out how to do the k4tog in an easy way when I got the idea of reversing t…