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What Can Trigger A Seizure In A Cat

What You Can Do If Your Cat Has A Seizure

Causes and Symptoms of Cat Seizures
  • Check your watch, to record how long the seizure lasts.
  • Keep your cat from hitting his/her head on anything hard like furniture or walls. Carefully move your cat away from those things, and/or provide a barrier with pillows or bedding.
  • Keep your cat away from stairs and from high areas that he/she could fall from.
  • Record additional information about the seizures . A video of the seizure may also be useful.
  • Check your household for any evidence that your cat ingested something toxic. Have any plants been chewed on? Did the cat get into any chemicals or medications?
  • If you have just applied a topical flea product that contains pyrethrins or permethrins, and your cat is no longer actively having a seizure, immediately bathe your cat to remove as much of the product as possible to prevent further absorption.
  • If your cat is a kitten, rub his/her gums with a cotton swab soaked with Karo syrup or maple syrup.

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.

About Dr Pete Wedderburn Dvm

Dr Pete Wedderburn qualified as a vet from Edinburgh in 1985 and has run his own 4-veterinarian companion animal practice in County Wicklow, Ireland, since 1991. Pete is well known as a media veterinarian with regular national tv, radio and newspaper slots, including a weekly column in the Daily Telegraph since 2007. Pete is known as “Pete the Vet” on his busy Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages, regularly posting information on topical subjects and real-life cases from his clinic. He also write a regular blog at His latest book: Pet Subjects, was published by Aurum Press in 2017.

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What Can Trigger A Seizure In A Cat

What Can Trigger A Seizure In A Cat? The most common cause of a seizure in a cat is toxin exposure. Flea and tick medication, sprays, dips, and shampoos can contain a chemical called pyrethrin that can cause a cat to have a seizure.

Although there is little evidence that a balanced diet has a direct effect on seizures, it provides essential nutrients and keeps our energy levels steady. A balanced diet may also help you to keep a regular sleep pattern and keep active, both of which are good for overall health. Eating foods which release energy levels slowly and steadily help you feel full for longer, and often provide more fibre than foods which release energy quickly. Steady energy levels can help you to feel more active, and the positive effects of exercise may also help to reduce seizures in some people with epilepsy. Traffic light labelling on supermarket food is one way to help you see what is in food. Seeing at a glance the foods with more green labels than red can help you make your own choices about keeping a balanced diet. Some people with epilepsy avoid certain foods if they seem to trigger seizures.

Can food trigger seizures? Can any foods trigger seizures? There is currently no evidence that any type of food consistently triggers seizures in people with epilepsy .

Treatment Of Seizures And Epilepsy In Cats

What Causes Seizures in Older Cats?

Treatment of seizures in cats depends on a variety of factors. In a non-emergency setting, your vet may do blood and urine tests, X-rays, testing of cerebrospinal fluid, MRI imaging, and, rarely, electroencephalograms . If you go to the emergency vet and your cat is still seizing, the vet will inject diazepam or phenobarbital to stop the seizure.

According to PetMD, a single seizure of less than 5 minutes duration that is determined to be epilepsy is usually not treated beyond stopping the initial seizure. Longer-lasting, cluster, or frequently recurrent seizures in cats likely need to be treated with anticonvulsants, including phenobarbital and possibly diazepam or gabapentin. A newer anticonvulsant called levetiracetam may be used with cats that dont respond well to phenobarbital or diazepam. A cat that is put on any anticonvulsant medication will need to have regular checkups and blood tests.

Seizures in cats is a scary but treatable condition. Keep your cat away from common toxins at home, and keep your vet informed.

Cover photo by Antonio Gabriel on Unsplash

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What Tests Can Be Done To Investigate The Cause Of Seizures In A Cat

The diagnosis of primary epilepsy is unfortunately a diagnosis of exclusion after elimination of extracranial metabolic and intracranial structural causes. There is no definitive diagnostic test for this condition and all investigations will come back as normal.

Diagnosis of an extracranial cause of epileptic seizures is based on a known exposure to a toxin by the owner and on blood test. The latter is important to eliminate the possibility of kidney, liver and other organ malfunction. Blood pressure evaluation should also be considered in older cats where high blood pressure is a common cause of late-onset seizures.

MRI scan of the brain of a normal cat and cat with suspected seizure-induced brain damage . Cat presented with acute generalised seizures and behavioural changes including aggression, salivation and disorientation.

Brain tumours are a potential cause of epileptic seizures, especially in older cats. Scan A shows a large meningioma in an 11-year-old cat presented with recent onset of epileptic seizures and circling to the left side. This type of tumour is often amenable to surgical resection with very good outcome in most cats. Repeat MRI scan two months after surgical resection shows complete removal of the tumour.

Causes Of Seizures In Cats

Seizures, or convulsions, are characterized by uncontrolled muscle movements. Cats can have seizures and they are an extremely alarming incident. Seizures in cats can vary in cause and severity. Affected animals will often seem out of sorts both immediately prior to and after the seizure event. They will usually seem unaware of their surroundings during the actual seizure, but the convulsions do not last very long . But to the cat owner, it is a very long minute because seizures are more painful to watch than they are for the cat to experience.

1. Poisoning and toxic ingestion can lead to staggering and seizures. Toxicity can come from external sources, like toxic plants or chemicals, but even advanced metabolic disease can seem like a toxicity to the body because of the imbalance of chemicals. The most notorious causes of toxic events that can lead to seizures include antifreeze poisoning and topical insecticides meant for dogs.

2. Encephalitis can also occur in cats. Like any inflammation, it can be infectious, parasitic or auto-immune. Sometimes if no one is able to figure out the exact etiology, it is called idiopathic. Cats suffering from encephalitis are very ill, often progressing from uncoordinated movements to seizures and unresponsiveness. Common feline infections, Feline Leukemia can be an underlying factor for seizure disorder as can certain parasites.

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What Is Causing The Epileptic Seizure

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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Seizures in Cats (What You Need to Know)

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Generalized Or Grand Mal Seizures

A generalized or grand mal seizure happens when there is abnormal electrical activity throughout the brain. Symptoms can include:

  • Shaking
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Loss of consciousness

A generalized seizure can last from around one to five minutes. They can also occur in clusters where one happens immediately after another or with a short period of recovery in between them. After these seizures, cats may appear wobbly, blind, confused, and exhausted.

Cat Seizure: A Final Thought

At the end of the day, we know that you want nothing but the very best for your cat. You stay up to date on the latest health advancements. You feed your fur baby only the best food. When push comes to shove, youd do just about anything to ensure their happiness and well-being.

Therefore, we understand that it can not only be heart-wrenching but also frustrating when health problems inevitably arise.

Seizures are, unfortunately, a condition that many cat owners have to manage. While it can be extremely difficult watching your feline suffer any amount, there are effective ways to lessen both the frequency and severity of your cats seizures. such as through food therapy and removing environmental toxins from your cats space.

The most important thing to remember is this: cat seizures can be managed, and cats who experience seizures can still live long, happy lives when properly treated.

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Types Of Seizures In Cats

Feline seizures are divided into two types:

  • Partial or focal seizures, where just a part of the brain is affected, leading to localized muscle twitching e.g face, eyelids, one limb, etc.
  • Generalized seizures where the abnormal electrical activity affects most of the brain, causing generalized muscle twitching and contractions that usually symmetrically affect the whole body.

Generalized seizures usually happen as isolated events, but so-called cluster seizures can happen when a series of seizures happen over a few hours or days. Cats usually have seizures at random times of the day, walking around normally beforehand, but some cats seizure while sleeping.

Cats Are Different From Dogs

What Causes Seizures in Older Cats?

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 Causes Cat Seizures

If your cat is having a seizure, its an emergency. Get the info you need on helping her fast.

Seeing your cat having a seizure is scary. The first thing you need to know is that your cat isnt in pain. Seizures are the result of abnormal brain activitycommunication between the brain and the rest of the body goes temporarily haywire. When you learn the symptoms, causes, and actions to take after a seizure, youll feel more prepared to deal with this scary event if it occurs.

Pet Insurance And Epilepsy In Cats

If your cat has a seizure or is diagnosed with epilepsy, pet insurance can help you manage the costs of veterinary care. It can cover diagnostic tests, like X-rays, MRI, urinalysis, and bloodwork, and anti-seizure medications. It also includes coverage for injuries, which would come into play if your cat got hurt during a seizure.

Find out if pet insurance is worth it for you and your feline family member.

The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.


*Pre-existing conditions are not covered. Waiting periods, annual deductible, co-insurance, benefit limits and exclusions may apply. For all terms and conditions visit Preventive and Wellness Care reimbursements are based on a schedule. Complete CoverageĆ¢ reimbursements are based on the invoice. Levels 1-4 reimbursements are based on usual and customary eligible costs. Products, schedules, and rates may vary and are subject to change. Discounts may vary and are subject to change. More information available at checkout.

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Home Remedies For Cat Seizures

There are no home remedies: if a cat is suffering from regular seizures, you need to work with your veterinarian to give them appropriate treatment. The best that you can do is to keep a seizure diary, writing down the details of your cats seizure whenever they happen, so that you can fully inform your vet about what has been happening.

Dont Move Or Touch The Cat

Seizures in Dogs and Cats: 5 Natural Remedies

It is tempting for a loving cat owner to want to help their pet in those moments, but you should avoid touching your cat during the seizure, unless absolutely necessary. However, if theyre in danger of hurting themselves by falling or hitting a hard surface, you should move your pet to a safer place. Make sure you use a blanket to avoid being bitten or scratched, as these behaviours can be very common during a seizure even in a pet that is normally very docile.

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Types Of Epilepsy In Cats

Feline epilepsy is divided into two types based on the cause of seizures.

  • Primary epilepsy, or epilepsy of uknown origin. In this type of epilepsy, there is no known physical cause of the seizures. When advanced brain imaging is carried out, no abnormalities can be identified, and even on autopsy after a cat has died, no structural changes can be found in the brain. The cause may be genetic, inherited from the cats parents, although there are many cases where this does not seem to be the case. Often, primary epilepsy develops for reasons that cannot be understood. Epilepsy of unknown origin occurs in 30-60% of cats with seizures and around 26% of the cats diagnosed with seizures at less than one year of age
  • Secondary epilepsy. In this type, an underlying physical abnormality can be identified by the history, blood tests or diagnostic imaging. Examples include seizures caused by extracranial metabolic abnormalities that can be identified by blood tests or those caused by brain diseases that can be pinpointed with imaging . Secondary epilepsy accounts for around 50% of cases of cats with epilepsy. Some of these causes are age-related e.g. meningiomas and hyperthyroidism are more common in older cats.
  • What Information Can I Provide To My Veterinarian To Help Determine The Cause Of Seizures In My Cat

    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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    What Is Meant By A Seizure Or Epilepsy

    A seizure, also known as a convulsion or fit, is a sudden surge in the electrical activity of the brain causing signs such as twitching, shaking, tremors, convulsions, and/or spasms. Epilepsy is used to describe repeated episodes of seizures. With epilepsy, the seizures can be single or may occur in clusters, and they can be infrequent and unpredictable or may occur at regular intervals. Some seizure disorders are caused by disease within the brain, such as a tumor or an area of damage that was caused by trauma or injury.

    “Idiopathic epilepsy is an inherited disorder in dogs, but is rarely diagnosed in cats.”

    Other forms of epilepsy may have no detectable cause, and are termed idiopathic epilepsy. Idiopathic epilepsy is an inherited disorder in dogs, but is rarely diagnosed in cats. In comparison to dogs, seizures and epilepsy are much less common in cats and are usually symptoms of disease within the brain itself.


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