Epilepsy in cats

Cats can also develop epilepsy. Although such seizures are generally not as serious as they look, the cause should be determined. Find out when you should contact a vet and how a cat with epilepsy can be treated.

What are the symptoms of epilepsy in cats? A phase of restlessness or clinging attachment to the owner precedes a typical seizure. All of a sudden seizures start, the cat falls over and starts to twitch or make a paddling motion with its legs. The cat will no longer be responsive, may urinate and excrete, and foam from the mouth. It is rare for an epileptic seizure to last more than a few minutes, after which consciousness returns and the cat will behave normally again.

What to do if your cat has a seizure

Although seizures often look incredibly alarming for owners, the cat does not generally suffer much as a result of an epileptic seizure as they are hardly aware of it. During a seizure the owner should therefore hold back from touching or moving the animal and solely focus on ensuring that it does not injure itself, for example as a result of falling objects.

Immediately after a seizure, especially if it lasts longer than five minutes, you should take your epileptic cat to a vet. The vet can give the cat a sedative, clarify organic causes of the disorder and treat these accordingly. Usually, however, the cause remains hidden in the brain. Treatment is then generally dependent on the severity of the disorder. Only seizures which occur occasionally and are short in duration can be left untreated.

What happens in a cat’s brain when it has epilepsy? Many simultaneous short circuits of the nerve cells occur. The functioning of the brain is impaired.

What triggers epilepsy in cats?

Epileptic seizures in cats can also be triggered by other conditions such as meningitis or a metabolic disorder

One possible cause can be poisoning. Before the vet can diagnose idiopathic epilepsy, other conditions that may have caused the epileptic seizure have to be ruled out first.

Keeping a diary of epileptic seizures in your cat

It can be helpful for the vet if the cat’s owner keeps a diary and writes down exactly what they have seen during an epileptic seizure. The following information is important for the vet:

  • On what day and at what time did the epileptic seizure occur? 
  • How long did the convulsions last? 
  • What symptoms did you observe during the seizure? 
  • How was the cat behaving before the seizure? 

The vet can gain valuable insights from these observations

When should the epileptic cat be taken to the vet immediately? 

If you notice any of the following, you should take your cat to the vet right away

  • if a seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes 
  • if the cat has more than one epileptic seizure in a single day 
  • if your cat has several seizures in quick succession

Treatment of epilepsy in cats

If the seizures start to occur at increasingly shorter intervals and/or are increasingly serious in nature, the vet will suggest lifelong treatment with epilepsy medication. During the adjustment period this can often cause a few unwanted side effects such as tiredness and lethargy. The owner should not lose their confidence too early in such cases as after a few months these effects wear off and the cat will return its former lively self.

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