Cat seizures are rare. According to Dove Press, seizures affect 2% of cats. However, there is no reason why we shouldn’t be wary of cat seizures since you could end up being the owner of a cat that gets seizures. Cat seizures occur due to abnormal electrical discharges in the brain. Depending on the abnormality of the electrical discharges, the seizures could either be harmless or severe. Also, some seizures last for a few minutes or several hours. Usually, cat seizures have no adverse outcome, but it is still important to take your cat to a veterinarian. The specialist will determine whether or not the cat has some underlying conditions that may require treatment. Now that we have understood the nature of cat seizures, we can now identify the different types of seizures. Here are five types of cat seizures to look out for below.
5. Focal Seizure
This kind of seizure is common in cats. It usually originates in a small, concentrated area within the cerebral cortex. Some of the symptoms of focal seizures include excessive drooling, loud cries, inability to get up, loss of leg function, and staring into space. It usually tends to be less severe, so there is no need to rush the cat to the hospital.
4. Petit Mal Seizure
This seizure is less dramatic and is usually very subtle. It does not cause convulsions in cats but causes them to collapse abruptly. The seizure does not last that long. According to I Cat Care, it can last for only 20 seconds. Besides collapsing, the cat will exhibit bizarre behavior such as staring into space, swatting at invisible flies, or chewing imaginary food.
3. Grand Mal Seizure
This seizure is easy to recognize since it is characterized by violent shaking of all four limbs, sudden collapse, twitching of the face, urination, defecation, salivation, and loss of awareness. It usually lasts about 1-3 minutes. After the episode, your cat will appear blind and disoriented. Before the seizure occurs, the cat will exhibit changes in behavior like pacing and growling.
2. Status Epilepticus (SE)
SE is a life-threatening seizure that requires immediate and aggressive treatment. It usually lasts for more than 5 minutes, and the cat does not regain consciousness between the seizures.
1. Cluster Seizure
This is another seizure that is also life-threatening. The cat experiences multiple seizures within a short period, with recovery in between.
Stages of Cat Seizures
There are three stages that take place when your cat gets seizures. The first stage is the pre-seizure phase. In this phase, the cat appears uneasy or restless. During this stage, the cat will be affectionate towards you, which is confusing since you will assume it is being friendly. However, its affection is a cry for help. However, some cats may instead hide from their owner, while others may seem normal. The next stage is the ictus stage. In this stage, the episode occurs, which may last for a few seconds or several minutes. Finally, the postical stage occurs. In this stage, the cat is expected to recover from the seizure. Most cats recover within a few hours, though some may recover after several days.
Causes of Seizures in Cats
After identifying the different types of cat seizures, it is time we identified what causes them to occur. To do so, we need to identify the two main classes of seizures: intracranial and extracranial seizures. Intracranial seizures are caused by something in the skull, while extracranial seizures are caused by something outside the skull.
One common cause of this seizure is a brain tumor. As long as the cat has the tumor, it is going to experience convulsions from time to time. Scientists are yet to understand how brain tumors trigger episodes, but some theories have been put forward. One theory suggests that the abnormally developed brain cells near the tumor fire off electrical signals which interrupt electrical signals in the rest of the brain. The other theory suggests that the tumor alters the chemical processes in the brain.
Another cause of this seizure type is brain parasites caused by toxoplasmosis or tapeworms. These parasites migrate into the cat’s central nervous system. They gain entry via nasal cavities or the middle ear. The more tapeworms present in the cat’s brain, the more the seizures occur. Lastly, cat seizures can occur as a result of brain infection. According to Pet MD, brain infections can be accompanied by spinal cord inflammation and inflammation of the meninges. When an infection occurs, toxins are produced by the brain’s inflammatory mediators. As a result, a breakdown of the blood-brain barrier occurs, and seizures begin to occur.
One of the external conditions that can trigger seizures in cats is heat strokes. When the temperature rises, the cat can only cool itself by panting, drinking water, or resting under shaded areas. If the cat is unable to cool itself, it quickly becomes distressed. In case the heating persists, the cat suffers from heat exhaustion which leads to heat strokes. The heat strokes lead to sweating, which means loss of sodium occurs.
Sodium is responsible for electrical activity, which means without the mineral, the cat gets seizures. The other reason for seizures in cats is the use of tick products. Tick products contain pyrethroids, substances that are sensitive to cats. Pyrethroids are responsible for cat seizures. If you need to remove ticks from cats, use a pair of tweezers instead. Another factor responsible for seizures in cats is liver disease. Liver diseases occur due to the accumulation of excess fat in the liver. Excess fat triggers the production of excess fluid in the brain. The excess fluid consequently leads to cat seizures.
How Seizures are Diagnosed in Cats
You can only know the seriousness of seizures in cats when you take them to veterinarians. To determine their level of seriousness, the specialists conduct tests by performing CT scans, blood tests, spinal fluid testing, MRIs, and urinalysis. Before the specialists perform these tests, you will be required to answer specific questions they may ask. For instance, you will need to provide further information about your cat on things like frequency and length of seizures, history of head trauma, and events that occur before seizures occur.
Things to do When Your Cat Gets Seizures
When your cat develops seizures, you may naturally help it by repositioning it. However, when your cat develops seizures, you should not touch it. It would be best if you only repositioned it when it is about to hurt itself by falling on a hard surface, for instance. While the cat is convulsing, its organs are out of control, which means you are likely to be scratched or bitten.
To avoid such accidents, you have to carry it with a towel or blanket to remove it from a dangerous position. Normally, seizures occur for a short time. However, not all owners know how short seizures should be. If your cat develops seizures for longer than five minutes, you should not hesitate to call for emergency care. Additionally, you should also call emergency care when seizures occur frequently. Lastly, you should call for help whenever your cat struggles to breathe during its episodes.
Keep in Mind
There are certain things that can make your seizures worse in cats. One of such things is light. In case your cat gets seizures, turn off the lights. Remember, you still need to be able to monitor your cat’s condition. It would be best to use a lamp with minimal light or leave the door slightly ajar. Additionally, you should lessen the noise in the cat’s environment. You can achieve this by asking people to remain silent or switching off the television. We have established that seizures are more serious when they exceed more than five minutes.
When your cat experiences seizures, you should record the episode with your smartphone or stopwatch. The time you record the seizures is helpful to veterinarians since they will know how to adequately treat your cat. Before you record the time, ensure that you are relaxed. If you record while you are stressed, you may not accurately record the time of the seizures, which means that your veterinarian could recommend the wrong treatments for your cat.
How to Prevent Seizures in Cats
Some causes of cat seizures are preventable, e.g., ensuring they do not ingest toxins. The toxins are present in essential oils and cleaning products. To ensure the cats do not ingest such substances, it would be best to keep them out of their reach by locking them up or keeping them on high shelves. Another instance when cats can ingest toxins is when owners give them medicines meant for humans. Some owners do this when they realize they share the same symptoms.
However, you need to remember that the digestive tracts of cats and humans are different. If your cat needs medication, seek help from a veterinarian instead. Cats need medication to prevent seizures from taking place. As the owner, you need to ensure they do not run out of medication. In case you realize that you may run out of medication, you should see a veterinarian as soon as possible to acquire more drugs. If your cat does not get their medication at the appropriate time, they may experience uncontrollable seizures.
Seizures may not be the only thing affecting your cats. That means your cat may have other conditions, which means you will have to give it some medication. However, some owners do not investigate whether the medication is suitable for their cats. This usually happens when they buy over-the-counter drugs. Before you buy drugs for your cat, consult your veterinarian on the best drug to use for your cat. It is important to consult veterinarians since you would not want to unknowingly administer drugs to cats that may trigger seizures.
As a cat owner, you may express your love for it by overfeeding it with treats. Overfeeding the cat means it is likely to become obese, and obesity is a condition likely to trigger seizures in cats since it leads to diabetes. If you are unsure about your cat’s ideal weight, ensure you consult your veterinarian. The veterinarian will recommend strategies you can use to ensure your cat maintains an ideal weight. If your cat’s seizures are due to a brain tumor, surgery may be necessary to remove it. It is important to remove it as soon as possible since it spreads rapidly into tissues. That means your cat will experience other problems besides seizures. For instance, the cat could develop cancer.
Side Effects of Medication in Cats
We have established that medications are necessary to prevent seizures in cats. Some of the side effects they will experience include lethargy and sedation. However, there is no reason to panic since these side effects are usually temporary. As the cat ingests the medicine, it gradually develops a tolerance for it, which means it will no longer experience the side effects. However, if you notice that your cat develops a lack of appetite, you should immediately consult a veterinarian.
Another challenge you may experience is your cat still getting seizures after taking its medication. There are many possible reasons for this phenomenon. First, it is possible that your veterinarian prescribed a small dose. Veterinarians usually do this because excess dosage may harm the cat. After the cat still gets seizures from a certain dosage, the veterinarian will know how much more dosage to include to treat the cat. Sometimes, the seizure may worsen, which means the dosage is not effective against it. That is an indicator that the cat’s health is deteriorating, which means it needs urgent medical care.
Cat seizures can be scary; however, it is important to remain calm. Once you are calm, you will be able to think rationally and help your cat overcome its seizures. Most of the time, cat seizures are harmless, but novice cat owners may not be able to determine whether or not they are harmless. If you are in doubt, it would be better to visit a veterinarian to be on the safe side.