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What To Do If Your Cat Has A Seizure

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Causes Of Cat Seizure

When Your Pet Has a Seizure: What to Do

The most common cause of cat seizure is the exposure to toxins, such as flea and tick medications, sprays, and shampoos that contain chemicals like pyrethrin.

Pyrethrin can cause cat seizures. It mostly used in over the counter flea treatments for dogs specifically.

In addition, a cat may have a seizure caused by a head trauma, due to car accidents, falling from high places, or any serious injuries to their head.

Other causes include brain tumors, low blood sugar, viruses, and brain parasites, such as toxoplasmosis.

Additionally, health problems elsewhere in the body such as liver or kidney disease, can cause cat seizures, heat strokes, and high blood pressure.

Cat seizures often happen when brain activity is changed, such as during excitement, feeding, falling asleep or waking up.

Finally, if your cat has epilepsy, the cause is usually unknown. Its scientifically called idiopathic epilepsy, which is a genetic disorder in dogs, but rarely diagnosed in cats.

Seizures and epilepsy in cats are much less common than in dogs.

What Factors Can Trigger A Seizure In A Cat

There are several factors that can trigger a seizure in a cat. According to Dr. Jay Rowan, chief veterinarian and practice owner of Paoli Vetcare in Pennsylvania, causes of cat seizures can include:

  • Head trauma, like an injury due to a fall or being hit by a car

  • Exposure to toxins or poisons, including human medications

  • Brain tumors

In the ictal phase, which is the seizure itself, cats may:

  • Fall over onto their side

  • Lose consciousness

  • Shake uncontrollably with legs flailing in a paddling motion

  • Have the head drawn backward

  • Make loud yowls as their throat muscles contract

  • Involuntarily empty bladder and bowels

This phase can last anywhere from a few seconds to minutes. Despite how scary it may seem, keep in mind that cats arent likely distressed during a seizure. They are typically unconscious.

The post-ictal or post-seizure phase usually occurs for several minutes to a few hours. After a seizure, your cat may experience:

  • Confusion

Some Questions You May Have:

  • Are seizures painful for my pet?Your pet is unconscious during the seizure, and there is no pain.
  • How long do seizures last in pets?The actual seizure usually lasts less than a minute, but it may take many more minutes for your pet to return to normal awareness. If the intense spasms do not stop within a minute or two, or if several seizures occur within a few minutes of each other, the situation is an emergency that should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
  • How are seizures treated in pets?Treatment involves addressing the underlying cause and using anticonvulsant drugs to control the seizures.
  • My pet just had a seizure, what should I do?a. Seizures are frightening to witness. Stay calm. b. Try to time how long the seizure lasts. c. First thing to do is to stay clear of your pet so he doesn’t injure you. Seizing animals may bite without even realizing it trying to hold them down may cause injury to themselves or you. d. Animals will not ‘swallow their tongue’ as you may have heard, so make sure you keep fingers away from your pet’s mouth. e. Quickly and carefully remove any objects in the area that can injure the animal. f. Call your vet. With the first seizure, the patient receives a full physical exam, blood work, and is monitored or a continual seizure called Status Epilepticus, this is a medical emergency. If anything is found on physical or blood work that may cause seizures, the underlying conditions will be addressed and treated.
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    Cat Seizures And Epilepsy 101

    The term “seizure” is often used interchangeably with “convulsion” or fit, but what do all of these terms really mean is happening? A seizure starts as a result of abnormal, excessive electrical activity in the brain. According to Chelsea Sonius, of the Zimmer Feline Foundation, whether in humans or animals, all seizures:

    • Start as a result of these electrical misfires in a part of the brain called the cerebrum.
    • The abnormal electrical impulse spreads from cell to cell.
    • This unregulated activity in one region of the cerebrum causes increased activity in other regions, a phenomenon termed “hypersynchronous activity.”
    • The brain becomes uncontrollably “hyper excitable,” which leads to seizures. Convulsions can then cause a cats body to shake rapidly and uncontrollably.
    • Tumors
    • Trauma
    • Infections

    There is little evidence that seizures in cats have a hereditary component. Most cats with seizures will have some structural change in the brain contributing to the seizure disorder. Unfortunately, recent studies show that from 22% to 41% of cats had epilepsy of unknown cause the neurologic work found no structural or blood-borne cause1,2,3.What are the signs of a cat seizure?Seizure activity in cats is often very violent, but can be quite variable. Common signs of seizures in cats can include:

    • Sudden bursts of activity
    • Facial twitching
    • Loss of consciousness and uncontrolled muscle activity


  • Wahle AM, et al. J Vet Intern Med. 2014 28:182.
  • What Should I Do If My Cat Has A Seizure

    What To Do When A Cat Has A Seizure

    If your cat starts having a fit, stay calm and clear the area around her to make sure she cant fall off a high surface or otherwise injure herself. Try not to move your cat while shes experiencing the seizure, but make a note of the time it starts. Most seizures last less than three minutes, but it can take a couple of hours for your cat to completely return to normal from the episode. If the seizure lasts longer than a few minutes, get in touch with your vet immediately for advice. Be careful that your cat does not unintentionally injure you with her teeth or claws she is not aware of her movements at this time so do not try to hold her mouth open or closed or hold her paws still.

    Epilepsy isnt the only cause of seizures fits and convulsions can be instigated by a head injury, heart condition, brain tumour, stroke, or even poisoning.

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    What To Do If Your Cat Is Having A Seizure

    There isnt a lot you can do while your cat is having a seizure other than make sure they dont get hurt. Move things out of the way on the floor so your cat doesnt bump into anything, Mears advises. And avoid putting your fingers anywhere near your cats mouthyour cat isnt aware of whats going on and could accidentally bite you.

    Just be with your cat. Once your kitty comes out of the seizure, talk soothingly to them, Mears says. But still avoid touching your cats head. Your kitty may still be out of it and react unexpectedly.

    If you know your cat is diabetic, you can also rub a little bit of corn syrup on her lips to boost blood sugar. Do this once shes calm and shell lick it off, Mears says.

    What You Should Do If Your Cat Is Having A Seizure

    Naturally, if you do happen to observe your cat having a seizure, you will want to do anything you can to make it stop. Unfortunately, there is little you can do in that regard, but you can help to keep your cat safe. But first, remember to remain calm! Freaking out will only make things worse.

    Generally, youll want to stand aside during a seizure. But what you can do is pay attention to what is around your cat. Keep in mind that they are unconscious while a seizure occurs, and are not aware of their surroundings. Your cat will not respond to or even recognize you.

    To keep your cat as safe as possible during a seizure, make sure there are no objects or furniture nearby that could potentially hurt the animal. If your cat is near the stairs while he is having a seizure, carefully move him out of danger or block the path to the stairs. If your cat is on top of something off of the ground when the seizure occurs, carefully place him on the ground.

    And whatever you do, dont put your hands or face near your cats mouth, or force your fingers into his mouth because youre concerned about it choking on his tongue. This simply is not possible, and the involuntary nature of a seizure could cause the cat to bite you.

    If you have any other pets, make sure to keep them away from your cat while he has a seizure. Other animals in the house will sometimes attack a seizing animal, or at the very least be curious or concerned. It is best to keep them away.

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    Symptoms Accompanying Seizures In Cats

    A seizure can cause changes in your cats behavior, movement, and even consciousness. A cat experiencing a seizure may exhibit some or all of the following symptoms, which typically last for a minute or two:

    • Collapsing
    • Loss of consciousness
    • Uncontrolled urinating or defecating

    PetMD also reports that some cats will exhibit behavior changes shortly before a seizure, such as pacing, circling, yowling, or vomiting. After the seizure, cats may be disoriented, show temporary paralysis in one or more legs, seem blind, vomit, or show other behavior changes.

    Are Seizures Common In Cats

    What To Do If Your Pet Has A Seizure: PDSA Petwise Pet Health Hub

    Not really. Seizures in cats do happen, but they are not as common as seizures in dogs. Most dogs who have seizures suffer from Idiopathic Epilepsy, which is genetically passed down through generations.

    Idiopathic Epilepsy is not nearly as common in cats. In fact, only one in four seizures in cats are caused by the condition. When cats have seizures, they are generally caused by other issues, including minor brain damage that the cat has recovered from and shows no other symptoms.

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    What Are Cat Seizures In Older Cats

    Cat seizures in older cats are increased synchronous abnormal electrical activity in the brains cerebral cortex, which leads to physical signs such as shaking, twitching, convulsions, and spasms. Older cats can be affected differently by seizures than younger cats which we expand on in this article.

    Seeing a seizure in your pet can be a traumatic experience for any cat owner, but having some information to help you understand what is happening can keep you informed and calm, which not only helps you as the owner but also your cat.

    Epilepsy is a condition where an animal has repeated episodes of seizures.

    Seizures can have many different signs, causes, and treatments, and in this article, we will explain these so that you feel better equipped to deal with seizures should they occur in your cat.

    When To See A Veterinarian

    If you notice your cat is having repeated seizures for more than 5 minutes, you should take it to the emergency vet immediately.

    Even if the cat had minor seizures that lasted 1-2 minutes, its better to take it to the vet for diagnosis and to treat the underlying cause, especially if it has frequent seizures every 6-8 weeks.

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    Caring For A Cat That Has Suffered A Stroke

  • 1Take the cat to the veterinarian immediately. The sooner the cat sees a veterinarian, the better care the animal will receive, meaning a better chance for recovery. Strokes in cats are not always as devastating to the animal as strokes tend to be in humans however, the event is still serious and requires immediate attention.
  • You may want to call ahead as you place the cat in its carrier to tell the veterinarian the symptoms youve seen as well.
  • If it is at night, you may need to take him to the emergency veterinary hospital.
  • 2Cooperate with the veterinarian. Your vet will ask you some questions to help determine a course of action. They will ask questions about many things involving your cat’s behavior, so make sure you pay close attention to your cat. They will ask if your cat could have ingested anything like a plant, a medication, or a poison to cause the symptoms. They might also ask if there was any known trauma like a fall prior to the symptoms. They will ask about any changes in his water or food intake. They will also likely ask if there has been any vomiting, diarrhea, or general lethargy.
  • You will need to know if your cat has had his rabies vaccination recently as well.
  • These test are done for animals in a similar way to how they are done for humans.
  • If your cat has motion sickness as a symptom, a medication such as Cerenia is available to manage that.
  • If your cats appetite is down, there may be options that increase the appetite such as Mirtazapine.
  • What Is Causing The Epileptic Seizure

    Understanding Epilepsy and Seizures in Cats

    Causes of epileptic seizures can be found inside the brain or outside the brain .

    Poisons and metabolic diseases represent extracranial causes. In these cases, the brain is perfectly healthy but reacts by seizuring to a toxin ingested by or applied to the animal, a change in the blood composition caused by a metabolic problem , high blood pressure or abnormal heart rhythm. Hence the term reactive epileptic seizures is often used to describe this category of causes. With toxic causes, recurrent seizures are not expected unless the cat is exposed again to the toxin.

    Intracranial causes are divided into primary and secondary epilepsy. In the case of secondary epilepsy, the epileptic seizures are a sign of a structural disease in the brain. This disease might be a brain tumour, an inflammation or infection of the brain , a brain malformation, a recent or previous stroke or head trauma. Epileptic seizures may occur alone or be associated with other symptoms .

    In the case of primary epilepsy , there is no disease in the brain but the epileptic seizures are caused by a functional problem . Cats with primary epilepsy tend to experience their first seizure at a young adult age. While the true incidence of primary epilepsy in cats is unknown, it has been suggested that between 21 and 59% of cats with seizures are primary epileptics. Primary epilepsy in dogs is usually genetic in origin however, there is little evidence of this in the cat.

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    What To Do While A Cat Is Having A Seizure

    Although a seizure is a frightening experience for any cat owner, it is important to try to remain calm and not to interfere. Ensure that the cat is not at risk of injuring itself, for example by falling down stairs or off furniture. When the cat starts a seizure, make a note of the time. Most seizures will stop on their own within one to three minutes, although it may take a few minutes to a few hours for the cat to completely recover. If a seizure lasts for a very long period of time , or is followed by other seizures close together , veterinary assistance should be immediately considered.

    Cats Are Different From Dogs

    This is true in so many ways, but never more so than with regard to seizures.

    The majority of dogs that have fits are eventually diagnosed as epileptic . But the opposite is true for cats often, there is a health problem driving the seizures, with the latter being a symptom rather than a diagnosis in itself.

    This may sound pedantic, but it isnt because it affects how seizures in cats are treated. While most dogs with seizures take anti-convulsant medication to control the fits, a cat has the underlying condition treated, which, once controlled, stops the seizures.

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    What Can Trigger A Seizure In A Cat

    causeseizure in a catcancatseizurecats canepilepsycauseseizures

    Is it common for older cats to have seizures? DF: Your cat might be suffering from what has been termed feline audiogenic reflex seizures , according to a survey by veterinarian M. Lowrie and associates published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. This condition, identified primarily in older cats, is triggered by sudden noises.

    What Information Can I Provide To My Veterinarian To Help Determine The Cause Of Seizures In My Cat

    What to do if my Pet has a Seizure.wmv

    Information about your cat’s lifestyle and history may also be important, including:

    • What age did the seizures begin and are they getting worse?
    • Are the seizures intermittent or do they occur at regular intervals?
    • What is the frequency and duration of seizures?
    • Have you noticed any association between the seizures and sleep, excitement, feeding, etc.?
    • Are there any other signs of illness such poor appetite, excessive drinking, reduced exercise, etc.?
    • Has the cat received any medications or supplements recently, including any flea control products or over-the-counter deworming medicine?
    • What diet and nutritional supplements are given?
    • Has there been any access or exposure to poisons or toxins?

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    When Your Pet Has A Seizure: What To Do

    Seizures in pets can come on suddenly. If your dog or cat undergoes a seizure, its a frightening event. Follow Dr. Byers steps to be prepared in the event your pet experiences a seizure.

    Pets know when they are about to go into a seizure. Typically, they will exhibit some of the following abnormal behavior:

    • Pacing
    • Getting to ground level

    What Should I Do After My Cat Has A Seizure

    Regardless of how long a cat seizure lasts or how severe it is, call your veterinarian and schedule an appointment. Additionally, Dr. Krull recommends monitoring your cat after a seizure. They may have a post-seizure recovery time or experience more seizures in a row.

    To better understand your cats condition, Dr. Rowan suggests taking notes about the seizure. Continue to add to the log as your cat recovers and if your cat has additional seizures. Log information such as:

    • When the seizure happened

    • What happened

    • Any behaviors the feline had before and after

    Cats usually have a good prognosis and recover after a seizure. However, youll still want to identify any underlying causes of the seizure and determine if your cat needs treatment.

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