Researchers at Edinburgh, St Andrew’s and Bristol Universities in the UK have found that a protein linked to Alzheimer’s in humans also builds up in the brain cells of aged cats who suffer from the same symptoms.

Post mortems on cats who had dementia when they died show feline brain cells are thickly coated with gritty plaques similar to those found in human brains known to have developed Alzheimer’s. The researchers are confident this is good evidence for the existence of a feline form of Alzheimer’s.

In humans, the presence of beta-amyloid proteins in the brain is thought to create dense tangles of protein strands in nerve cells, which block communication, and cause them to die from lack of use. Beta-amyloid proteins are toxic to brain cells and are normally broken down by enzymes into harmless compounds.

Because cats’s lives are shorter than people’s, it means researchers can more quickly find out the effects of new treatments. And, as Dr Danielle Gunn-Moore, at the University of Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies who led the research, said in a statement earlier today this not only helps human research but:

“we also need to understand more about our geriatric cats for their own benefit, so we can slow down the degeneration the disease brings and keep them as happy cats for as long as possible.”

Written by: Catharine Paddock
Writer: Medical News Today