There might not be a more frightening experience for a cat owner than the first time you see a cat – especially if it is your cat – have a seizure. While seizures in cats are not common you should still know what causes them and how to treat them.
Causes of Cat Seizures
The number one cause of seizures in cats is poison. Antifreeze, insecticide, herbicide, lead and rat poisons are the most common causes of seizures in cats. Head injuries can also cause a seizure. A seizure caused by a head injury may not occur until weeks after the injury, usually due to scar tissue that forms from the injury.
Other causes include liver or kidney failure, and these seizures could lead to comas and death. Stroke, epilepsy and metabolic disorders can also cause seizures. Epilepsy is the only one of these causes that is a disease and not something caused by an accident of some sort. Epilepsy can be caused by a neurological disorder or by a trauma. A severe head injury can also be a cause of long-term epilepsy. Epilepsy can be controlled with medications, but it cannot be cured. It is actually found more often in dogs, but it does occur in cats and causes seizures.
Narcolepsy-cataplexy can look like a seizure but it actually is not. It is a condition where the cat can fall asleep with no notice and if standing or sitting, the cat will fall to the ground. There is no jerking, foaming at the mouth, or other symptoms of seizures. The cat will be fine once you wake it back up.
There are a couple more conditions that look like seizures but are not. Bee stings and fainting spells are among these.
Symptoms of Cat Seizures
Some of the most typical signs or symptoms that would tell you that your cat is having a seizure are sudden, uncontrollable jerking, foaming at the mouth, incontinence and loss of bowel control, chewing and chomping, as well as a possible loss of touch with reality. An atypical seizure could be characterized by inappropriate and unprovoked behavior such as rage, panic or hysteria.
Cat Seizure Treatments
You usually have to treat the underlying cause of the seizure instead of looking at the seizure itself. It is also not likely that you will know immediately what the cause of your cat’s seizure is. Given this you should attempt to get them to the veterinarian as soon as you possibly can. In the meantime get a blanket and cover your cat so that he will calm down and quiet down.
If the seizure lasts for five minutes or more your cat could be in serious trouble. Brain damage can occur if the seizure goes on after five minutes. Get to an emergency vet immediately so they can stop the seizure.
If your cat has seizures often then you will want to control them with medications. There is no cure for epilepsy, but there are treatments that will minimize the number of seizures and how severe they are. Some of the drugs used to treat cats with seizures are the same ones that are used in treating people. They include diazepam (Valium), phenobarbital and potassium bromide. When these medications are used they have to be supervised because they can become toxic with cats.
If your cat is comatose you need to monitor her closely. Do not attempt to rouse them. Whatever the cause or the specific symptoms you ascribe for your cat’s seizure, it is always a serious and dangerous situation. It requires immediate consideration and treatment.