Feline Alzheimer's disease

News of a studly on Alzheimer's disease for readers with ageing feline and human friends:

Ageing cats can develop a feline form of Alzheimer's disease, a new study reveals. Scientists at the Universities of Edinburgh, St Andrews, Bristol and California have identified a key protein which can build up in the nerve cells of a cat's brain and cause mental deterioration.

In humans with Alzheimer's disease, this protein creates 'tangles' inside the nerve cells which inhibit messages being processed by the brain. The team says that the presence of this protein in cats is proof that they too can develop this type of disease…

…”As with humans, the life expectancy of cats is increasing and with this longer life runs the greater chance of developing dementia. Recent studies suggest that 28% of pet cats aged 11-14 years develop at least one old-age related behaviour problem and this increases to more than 50% for cats over the age of 15.”

Perhaps one of the things that makes cats and other companion animals so endearing is that they go through many of the same life stages as humans, from kittenhood/childhood to old age. Having recently observed a 96-year-old relative and a neighbor's 20-year old cat who recently passed away, one can see similarities in both the strong and the sad qualities. The old cat liked to simply rest in her favorite spots in the neighbors garden, staring out into the world. Her physical state deteriorated very quickly towards the end, but I believe she crossed the rainbow bridge quietly and peacefully. My relative is still with us (saw her on my recent New York trip), though her health and mental state has deteriorated quite a bit as well. Again, I find myself thinking of the similarities between humans and cats in this stage of life – though just as with human infants in comparison to kittens, older cats seem to on the whole do a better job of staying independent than their elderly human counterparts.

I wonder if any of the stem cell research on Alzheimer's in applicable to cats…