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What is a seizure like for a cat? Rocky - 14 year old make…

Customer Question
What is a seizure...

What is a seizure like for a cat?

Veterinarian's Assistant: I'll do all I can to help. Seizures always look scary. Let's get you talking to the Veterinarian. What is the cat's name and age?

Rocky - 14 year old make orange tabby

Veterinarian's Assistant: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about Rocky?

He has not been eating over the last week to ten days. Then tonite, he appears that maybe he had a seizure of some kind. Arms went straight out and he started rolling uncontrollably on our bed. Rapid breathing. Appears to be ok now, thought

Submitted: 4 months ago.Category: Cat Veterinary
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Answered in 1 minute by:
12/17/2017
Cat Veterinarian: Dr. Kara, Veterinarian replied 4 months ago
Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 18,137
Experience: Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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Hello, I'm Dr. Kara. I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian and I'd like to help. Please give me a moment to review your concerns.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Thank you. Just want to know if my cat did, in fact, have a seizure. What are they like?
Cat Veterinarian: Dr. Kara, Veterinarian replied 4 months ago

I am sorry to hear that Rocky has not been eating for at least a weeks and had a possible seizure episode tonight.

Seizures are rhythmic, repeated muscle movements which the cat is unable to control and can lose consciousness during. Many cats will fall, have repeated motions/tremors, or be very stiff, may vocalize and cannot rise, and may lose urine and stool control. They can be a bit weak or uncoordinated afterwards, and may seem confused but should come back to normal in a relatively short period of time.

Given your description it seems very likely that his episode tonight was a seizure.

There can be several reasons for seizures.

The most common is idiopathic epilepsy. That means that we don't know why but a circuit of sensitive neurons in the brain gets stuck repeatedly firing. Epilepsy occurs most frequently for the first time in young animals, and Rocky is really older than the typical age group affected by epilepsy, so it is unlikely that his episode was because he is epileptic.

We do believe that there is a genetic basis for epilepsy as certain breeds are more commonly afflicted and siblings will often have them as well.

Other cause for seizures are viral, bacterial, parasitic or fungal infections, metabolic diseases leading to waste products building up and affecting brain chemistry, low blood sugar, or even granulomas or masses in the brain. Most of the other disease processes that cause seizures cause other symptoms, those cats are sick or abnormal other than during the seizure. That would fit with his refusal to eat.

Most cats do behave normally after they gather themselves after a seizure, though they will often be hungry and thirsty and may feel anxious because they do not remember what happened during the episode.

Some cats with lower than normal seizure thresholds will seizure in response to being exposed to artificial colors, preservatives or gluten. So you might wish to feed him a diet without artificial dyes or flavors and one that is wheat free. Blue Buffalo purports to produce these sorts of foods.

Decreasing stress is also a way to avoid seizures so if you know an event will be stressful for him avoid it if possible. You can also use calming sprays such as Feliway or pheromone impregnated collars to keep him calm. Was there any stressful event that you know of that led to this episode?

Exercise should be kept at normal levels. Exercise is a great way to naturally relieve stress and increase positive endorphin levels in the brain.

Ideally he should see his veterinarian for an examination and bloodwork to look for underlying organ disease, feline leukemia or feline immunodeficiency virus as well as toxoplasmosis or possible evidence of a tumor. We do want to make sure there are no underlying problems that need to be addressed.

If he has more seizures tonight, especially because he is not eating and drinking normally, or if he is behaving abnormally then an emergency visit today is best.

We tend to be more aggressive with diagnostic testing in cats to look for causes for seizures and with treatment. If a cat has more than one seizure in a month or more than one in a day, even if it has been months since the last one I recommend medical therapy to prevent seizures.

The reason for that is the likelihood of status epilepticus (one seizure after another) and possible brain damage is higher with those scenarios and we wish to avoid that.

Phenobarbital is very effective in most cats at preventing seizures and if used at appropriate levels it rarely causes any organ damage. If you aren't comfortable with that drug there are others such as Keppra (levetiracetam) or Zonegran (zonisamide) that your veterinarian can prescribe. These newer drugs are reported to be less stressful on the organs but even they are not totally without problems. About 1/2 of the cats on zonisamide do have side effects, including diarrhea, lack of appetite, vomiting and incoordination. I find most cats handle phenobarbital better long term after the first few weeks of adjusting to the drug.

As with any medical condition we must weigh the positives and negatives of using a particular medication.

I would try and decrease his stress levels as well as using a diet without glutens, dyes or lots of chemical preservatives.

If your fellow has more than one or two seizures I think preventing brain damage by using appropriate medications at appropriate doses is more beneficial.

If medication is prescribed make sure that his blood levels are checked periodically so that we aren't under or over dosing him.

In many cases we never completely stop the seizures, but they should be much fewer and much less severe.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

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Cat Veterinarian: Dr. Kara, Veterinarian replied 4 months ago

Hello, I wanted to make sure that you didn't have any further questions for me, and I'd like to know how things turned out for your kitty. If you could give me an update that would be great, thank you, ***** *****

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Turns out our Rocky was gravely ill. We had to put him to sleep on Monday. Our hearts are broken. Thank you for your time.
Cat Veterinarian: Dr. Kara, Veterinarian replied 3 months ago

My apologies on not getting back to you sooner, I was out of the country without internet access. I am very, very sorry to hear about your loss. Please accept my condolences on your loss, thank you for taking the time to let me know how things went for Rocky, although it was not what we had hoped for.

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