Do cats have seizures?

Health problems would always be a big issue for pet owners. People treat the pet as a member of the family thus it would not be uncommon for pet owners to be concerned if signs of illness are noticed in the pet. Seizures are not very common in cats but this neurological concern does happen. A cat owner would be terrified if the pet is seen seizing because seizure in animals, just as in humans, is not a pretty sight. A cat owner has to understand feline seizure so that the right care can be given to the pet.

Feline seizure is also known as convulsions. The condition is characterized by loss of body control, unusual mood swings and unrestrained spate of activity. A changed level of consciousness is a common symptom of seizure. The unconsciousness though would generally last for only a short while. Some types of seizures are not typified by convulsions. Some cats would have psychomotor seizure where an unusual or strange behavior is exhibited like aggression or hysteria. Cats with this kind of seizure would excessively lick and bite themselves and would have the tendency to bite other animals and the owners as well.

Epilepsy is one of the most common causes of seizures. Epilepsy is a word commonly used to describe feline seizures even though the condition of the cat has a different cause. Feline seizure can be due to the ingestion of toxic chemicals. Common poisonous chemicals that can trigger a seizure include household chemical like antifreeze, insecticides and rat poison. Exposure to the toxic fumes would cause the cat to drool excessively and to have uncontrollable muscle twitching. Seizure can be due to an underlying medical condition like cancerous tumors, parasite infection, diseases like leukemia, kidney and liver concerns, and metabolic disorders like diabetes and thyroid abnormalities. The seizing episode of the cat can be attributed to an accident where the head has suffered trauma.

There are three types of feline seizures – petit mal, grand mal and status epilepticus. Petit mal is a minor seizure and owners may not even be aware that the pet is seizing. Grand mal which is characterized by convulsions where the cat can pass out is the most common. Status epilepticus is the most serious as the cat would lose consciousness and the seizure can last for hours. This type of seizure is life threatening and a vet’s immediate attention is necessary. A cat owner has to fully observe every detail of the pet’s seizure. Remember, the vet may not be able to observe the cat while it is seizing and a detailed description would be important in making a diagnosis. A seizure has three distinct phases. In the pre-ictal phase, the cat will manifest a restless and nervous behavior. This will be followed by ictal phase where the muscles can contract so that the cat can either fall down or be paralyzed. Ictal phase is the actual stage where the cat would seize. Post ictal phase is the last stage where the cat will regain consciousness but show disorientation. Some cats can suffer from temporary blindness.

A seizing cat would need complete veterinary workup. The cat has to have neurological examinations like MRI and CT scans. The vet would require blood tests and blood chemistries as well. These tests can be very expensive but very necessary to determine the specific reason for the cat’s seizures. Treatment will be effective if the underlying medical condition is identified. Idiopathic seizure can be controlled with medication. The same medications that treat seizures in humans can be given to the cat. However, administration of these medications must be closely supervised by a vet.