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Dr. Gary
Dr. Gary, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 19798
Experience:  DVM, Emergency Veterinarian; BS (Physiology) Michigan State Univ
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Im needing help with my 3 year old kitty, who, is normally

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I'm needing help with my 3 year old kitty, who, is normally very active and healthy.

Basically, last Monday night, he was perfectly fine. Came in, ate, played around, then, the next morning, I saw him in my mom's backyard by the fence and he didn't offer to get up. He felt really cold and was lethargic, so, my brother helped me bring him in. My mom checked on him throughout the day, and he pretty much just laid around. By the time I got home, he seemed pretty sick. He had urinated all over himself, cried out quite a lot and could barely hold his head up. Got him to the vet, they did all kinds of blood tests and found nothing wrong. They gave him fluids, steroids, antibiotics, B12 shots...took xrays and the only thing they could come up with were some possible areas on his back they thought might be causing him pain. I brought him home on Thursday, and he seemed much better. His eyes were brighter, but, he still just wanted to lay around. Friday, he got up...ate all of his food, drank lots of water, walked around...seemed like he was wayyyy better. Then, Friday night, he started acting strange...drooling, chewing, and almost seeming as though he lost his vision. He went to his food bowl, would eat, then spin in a circle and eat again. He did that about 30 times. About 3 hours later, he had a full on seizure. I was so scared! I didn't know what to do! It lasted a minute or two, then he was just really drowsy. He had another one Saturday morning, so, we took him back to the vet. She said that he's back to eating and drinking just fine and that he had only one other seizure while he's been there. They just can't figure out what's wrong. I was just going to see what your first thought, expert opinion might be? Or, if you've ever seen anything like this before? Thank you!

With seizures in a fairly young cat, this may be one of a couple things:
1. Epilepsy- this is more common in dogs, but we can see it in cats. It may have been that he was in a "post-ictal" period where he was just off for the better part of a day last week. The post-ictal period is the period after a seizure that can last minutes to hours based on the patient. With epilepsy, we'll usually start treatment with anti-seizure meds once they are having more than 1 seizure per month. It sounds like he would benefit from going on something. Usually we'll start with Phenobarbital.

2. Encephalitis- this is an infection or inflammatory condition in the brain. It can be caused by a parasite (Toxoplasmosis), virus or something we call "steroid responsive encephalitis/ meningitis." An MRI and CSF tap with a neurologist is the only way to diagnose it. Typically the routine bloodwork is normal. Treatment is with antibiotics (often Clindamycin), steroids (Pred) and anti-seizure meds as needed.

Here is a good link on seizures in animals:

I hope this helps, let me know if you have any other questions.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for the information Dr. Gary.


Is Epilepsy likely to come on suddenly without warning? He has shown no signs of neurological problems up until this point. He went from perfectly fine, to completely lethargic in a matter of hours.


Would Encephalitis be accompanied by a fever?


I think this is what has everyone so puzzled. He has had no fever, no vomiting or diarrhea...

Yes, Epilepsy will typically come on suddenly, as does encephalitis. They are typically normal cats until they start having seizures.

Encephalitis cats can have a fever, but not always. Sometimes they are normal and others that are sick and shocky will have a low body temperature. When there is an infection in the brain, there is a blood brain barrier that blocks off that circulation from the rest of the body making fever and bloodwork unreliable to making a diagnosis.

The best thing you could do would be consult with a neurologist. Sometimes just the consult is very helpful. They don't always have to do the expensive MRI or CSF tap. Sometimes just that neuro exam from a specialist is needed to narrow things down.
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