Although less common as they might be in some dog breeds, seizures in cats can happen, and they can be partial or generalized.
n today’s article, we’re looking at the causes of seizures in our feline friends, how you can tell if your pet has had one, what you should do in such a situation, if there are any treatments available, and how long cats can live if they suffer from epilepsy. Read on to find out more!
What Can Trigger a Seizure in a Cat?
Seizures can be grouped into two main categories – intracranial and extracranial seizures. The first are always caused by something that pertains to the cat’s head (skull), whereas the second can be caused by anything outside of it, including general diseases.
The most common causes of intracranial seizures are brain infections, tumors, trauma, and inflammation of the brain, as well as parasites.
As for extracranial seizures, their most common causes range from heatstroke, infectious diseases, and exposure to pest products that aren’t designed for our feline friends to human drug ingestion or certain hepatic or renal conditions.
n general, seizures are caused by a change in the electrical activity of the brain, no matter whether this was the result of something happening in it or outside of it.
Older cats have a higher risk of suffering seizures as they are more predisposed to developing diseases of the central nervous system.
How Do I Know If My Cat Had a Seizure?
n cats, all seizures tend to last for a short period of time, and they almost never last more than ten minutes at a time, no matter their type.
Generalized seizures involve several different parts of the cat’s body, where you might notice that the cat either goes rigid or begins to experience convulsions. It’s not uncommon for some cats to lose consciousness altogether or, by contrast, become very energetic, vocal, and aggressive, even toward their own body.
The biggest issue in this species is that since the seizures can be extremely short, the owners might not even be aware that their pets have had one.
Following a seizure, a cat can be either completely exhausted or, on the other hand, might be overly excited and could pace around the house as if looking for something to do.
f you come home from work after 9 or 10 hours of being out of the house, you virtually have no way of knowing whether your cat had a seizure during the day.
What Should I Do If My Cat Has a Seizure?
Both cat and dog parents tend to want to help their pets as they are having a seizure by maneuvering them, talking to them, or trying to soothe them in any other way.
You cannot predict the behavior of an animal (or person, for that matter) during a seizure, so you might be severely hurt if you try to touch your feline friend in that situation.
Even if it might be the last thing on your mind, the best thing you can do, also keeping in mind that the event doesn’t last for a long time, is to record it using your smartphone or whatever else you have available.
Chances are that your cat is not going to experience a seizure when you take her to the animal hospital, which will make clinical diagnosis quite difficult for the veterinarian. If, on the other hand, there is footage of the symptoms and the way your cat reacted to the seizure, the vet might be able to tell what type it is and decide on a type of treatment accordingly.
t is a good idea to take your cat to the veterinary clinic right after a seizure has taken place. However, we would like to note that while it does happen very rarely, cats can experience seizures that take more than 10 minutes, also known as status epilepticus. If you see your cat convulsing for minutes on end, try to cover her with a large towel, get some help, get her in the carrier and go to the pet hospital right away.
Diagnosis and Treatment
There is no specific test for seizures or epilepsy, and all that the vet can do is to perform as many diagnostic tests as possible so as to see just what’s going on in your cat’s brain.
First, they will rule out other medical issues that can lead to the occurrence of seizures, such as kidney or liver disease. Blood pressure evaluation, a blood test, an MRI, or a CT scan can all be useful, and the two last imaging methods can reveal the presence of brain tumors, for example.
As for the treatment, it largely depends on what your cat was diagnosed with. If she suffers from primary epilepsy, you’ll have to give her anti-epilepsy medication for the rest of her life.
The therapy might sometimes not work, in which case the cat needs to be taken for another check-up so as to be reevaluated. Some cats can also become somewhat ‘resistant’ to the drugs.
Never stop giving your cat medication if your vet hasn’t advised you to do so. Otherwise, your cat might experience so-called ‘withdrawal’ seizures.
How Long Can Cats Live with Seizures?
A clear answer to this question doesn’t really exist as all cats are different. For example, if your cat is young and the seizure was caused by shock or trauma, eliminating the stressful factors in her environment might just as well prevent future seizures.
But epilepsy is more common in geriatric patients, which means that due to chronic disease and other complications, their life expectancy might already be low. If they are diagnosed with a brain tumor and depending on its stage, the vet doesn’t recommend a specific kind of therapy, the prognosis is not going to be good.
A fairly and otherwise healthy adult cat can sometimes live for more than five years once the treatment was initiated. Constant monitoring is necessary, however, so you have to take your feline friend to the vet at least once in three to four months.