Study: Cats may develop Alzheimer's

Oct. 5, 2012 at 6:21 PM
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NEW YORK, Oct. 5 (UPI) -- Japanese scientists studying endangered wildcats say they've found deposits in their brains of proteins similar to those found in human Alzheimer's patients.

Researchers examined carcasses of 14 Tsushima Leopard cats from the western Japanese island of Tsushima and found brain tissue from five of them contained neurofibrillary tangles or NFT, a protein commonly found in human Alzheimer's patients but rarely found in animals, ABC News reported.

"If we closely compare changes in the brain among many different animals, we may be able to contribute to a study into the mechanism of the disease," James Chambers, a professor of veterinary pathology at the University of Tokyo, told Kyodo News.

Whether the Tsushima cats displayed any dementia-like symptoms is unknown because their behavior was not monitored when they were alive, the researchers said.

A similar study is contemplated for housecats, which can become cranky, forget to eat, walk erratically and display other geriatric behavioral symptoms, they said.

Scientists have long suspected animals such as dogs and cats can suffer from a similar form of dementia as humans.

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