Seizures in Cats — Some of the Causes Might Surprise You

Seizure Look-alikes

It’s also important to keep in mind that not all conditions that look like a seizure in your cat are in fact seizures. Heart problems in cats can cause inadequate delivery of oxygen-rich blood to the brain, either because the heart muscle does not pump well or because of an abnormal heart rhythm. Lack of oxygen to the brain can cause your cat to faint. Sudden, yes; seizure no. Disorders of the muscles can result in weakness and collapse and veterinarians will also consider this diagnosis when evaluating a cat for possible seizures. Deficiency of the B vitamin thiamine can mimic a seizure because a lack of thiamine can cause dilated pupils, altered consciousness and a strange neck posture called ventroflexion, in which the head bows downward. Finally, if you have never experienced a female cat in heat, some owners might mistake her sudden yowling and flirtatious rolling as a seizure!

What Do You Do?

Here’s what I tell my clients. Your response to a seizure in your cat depends on exactly what happens when the seizure occurs:

1. If you observe what you think is a seizure but it stops after a minute and then your cat is relatively normal, you should see your veterinarian as soon as possible.

2. If you observe what you think is a seizure and it does not stop after a few minutes, or if multiple seizures occur in a cluster, you need to take your cat to the ER immediately.

3. Give your cat a wide berth during a seizure and don’t handle her any more than necessary or you could be seriously bitten or scratched.

4. If your cat needs to be transported to the ER, scoop her up in a thick towel to protect both of you during transport.

If you need to go to the ER, a series of quick tests can help determine if low blood sugar or high blood pressure (for example) is causing the seizure. If necessary, intravenous medications will be administered to stop the seizure. Then, a more in-depth evaluation can be conducted to determine the cause of the seizure. Depending on the situation, a referral to a veterinary neurologist and possibly an MRI will be recommended. When an underlying cause of a seizure is identified, such as high blood pressure, then the cause can sometimes be treated. If no cause is identified, anticonvulsant medications may be prescribed to try to control the episodes.

Even though seizures are frightening to watch in your most favorite feline fur person, controlling even chronic seizures while maintaining a very good quality of life is frequently possible.

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