Advice on cat seizures.
June 14, 2004 12:41 PM   Subscribe

Our cat just had a seizure about an hour ago scaring the almighty shit out of us. Spasms, frothing at the mouth, paddling paws and dilated pupils - not fun. While this appeared to be the first time it's happened, I remember being woken by similar noises a year ago but just dismissed it as chasing an insect / nightmares / high jinks. Anyway, I wonder if the feline friends on 'filter would care to share their experiences in this area
posted by dodgygeezer to Pets & Animals (12 answers total)
You need to bring your cat to a vet, sadly. Seisures can be symptomatic of a variety of problems. If it happens again before you can get to the vet, pay close attention during the seizure to what exactly the cat is doing, and in what order. This will help the vet determine what kind of tests are needed for your kitty.
posted by Jairus at 12:59 PM on June 14, 2004

Is your cat an indoor or outdoor cat?

My sister had a cat who had chronic seizures. They started when he was around 4 or 5 years old. He was an outdoor cat, though to the best of our knowledge he had never been in any major scrapes (never showed outward signs of any, at least). Three different vets could not determine the reason for the seizures or give the cat any comfort from them, other than a small regular dosage of phenobarbitol, which seemed to lessen the frequency/severity of the seizures. He became mostly an indoor kitty after this.

He would also bite at the fur at the base of his tail until it was a bald patch. This behavior would happen within a day or a few hours of a seizure coming on.

We had him on a quarter to half tablet of phenobarbitol per day (which strength I forget -- but it was a teeny tiny tablet when it was whole, about saccharine sized) for about 6 to 7 years. That was probably too much; according to one vet it tends to build up in the system to toxic levels, and not only that he was becoming immune to it anyway.

He did live to the ripe old age of 15, but his health was never 100%.

Please take your kitty to the vet. You never know, it could be something simple to diagnose and cure. Think of my story as only a 'worst case' scenario.
posted by contessa at 1:09 PM on June 14, 2004

Sounds scary, and definitely worthy of a visit to the vet. Like it was mentioned, it could be a bevy of different things causing it. Sometimes, time can be a factor, so try to get to the clinic as soon as possible.

Hope things work out favorably for you and kitty.
posted by jerseygirl at 1:11 PM on June 14, 2004

When you get back from the vet (hopefully you're there right now), how old is the cat?
posted by jpoulos at 1:19 PM on June 14, 2004

Seizures can be triggered by any number of external forces - head injuries and poisoning come to mind - but can also be ideopathic, meaning there is no known cause. Phenobarbitol is the standard preventive treatment, but it can have unfortunate side effects, such as dopiness and eventual renal failure. Take thy kitty to a good veterinarian, one experienced in epileptic animals. But keep in mind that there are alternatives to phenobarb, and some are more "holistic" than others (implanting gold beads has been known to work on some dogs; don't know about cats). There are some yahoo groups for owners of epileptic dogs so surely there are some for cats too. Their archives might give you ideas about what your options are.

The tragic thing about epilepsy is that each seizures opens up and fortifies (hard-wires, if you will) the neural pathways to make the next seizure more likely and more severe.

I wish you and your kitty the very best. Epilepsy (if that's what this turns out to be) is a heartbreaking condition.
posted by Alylex at 1:33 PM on June 14, 2004

My recently departed dog occasionally had small, short-lived seizures in response to bee stings. I thought she was just allergic, but it turns out she had kidney/liver problems, and now I am assuming her kidney/liver may have been unable to process the small amount of bee sting toxin, resulting in seizure.

The weekend before she passed on, I took her to be groomed, and I suspect the groomer may have used a sedative, the toxin hastening her kidney failure.

Anyway, it's just something to think about. Minor seizures can be related to major (though otherwise invisible) problems
posted by Shane at 1:59 PM on June 14, 2004

P.S. Blood tests from my vet would have revealed my dog's liver/kidney problems, had I taken her in when she had those tiny seizures. I could have then sought treatment. *sigh* Live and learn.
posted by Shane at 2:01 PM on June 14, 2004

Response by poster: I thought I'd posted a first comment but I guess it got lost in the upgrade. Basically it said that Poppy is OK now, climbing all over the furniture. Do not fear - she will very shortly be seeing the vet.
posted by dodgygeezer at 3:03 PM on June 14, 2004

My cat experiences vertigo when she is nauseated. Other cats throw up with great aplomb and casually walk off--she makes a strangled unearthly howl, vomits and promptly keels over sideways and stays down for a couple of minutes. It's most unnerving.

She's been to the vet for it and checked out fine. Nonetheless, it scared the shit out of me the first time she did it and bothers me still when it happens. So I can sympathize with your experience--you feel so helpless when something like this happens.
posted by y2karl at 3:44 PM on June 14, 2004

I wish you and your kitty the very best. Epilepsy (if that's what this turns out to be) is a heartbreaking condition.

as someone with epilepsy I feel compelled to note that it is not always a heartbreaking condition. If the seizures are frequent and uncontrollable, it is indeed a terrible situation. If the seizures are by nature only occasional, or if a medication gets them under better control, it's not really that big a deal.

But of course, the seizure could be a symptom of something else; let us know what the vet says.
posted by mdn at 7:58 PM on June 14, 2004

One of my step-cats (we're a mixed family) used to have seizures. Did lots of vet tests and even went to a feline neurologist. There was never a conclusive diagnosis, other than possible epilepsy. She was put on pheno (1/4 tab), which stopped the seizures. (Helpful hint: put the pheno in a spoonful of sour cream - it's much easier than trying to wrestle the cat and drop a pill down her throat; She thinks it's a treat.) She's off pheno now and hasn't had a seizure in two years. Hope you have the same luck.
posted by sardonista at 6:50 AM on June 15, 2004

Response by poster: Firstly, thanks guys for all your best wishes. I'm sure if she could read, my cat would be delighted with all this attention.

Well Poppy is back from the vet. She was given a quick examination and there are no irregularities. She has been perfectly healthy before and after her seizures and so it doesn't look like it's anything nasty.

The vet said that there are many things that could cause seizures and most are difficult to diagnose. What he recommended was a blood test so we could eliminate the nasty problems such as lukemia, liver failure, etc

He was surprised that during her seizures she did not urinate or defecate but his best guess is that it's primary epilepsy. He added that unless she has attacks frequently (eg. every month) he would not recommend drugs as their side effects can be severe. For an indoor cat such as Poppy, treatment is less neccessary as "she's unlikely to have a seizure and fall out of a tree."

Anyway, Poppy probably got more blood out of the vet than he got out of her (that's my girl!) and I needed a strong restorative when I saw the bill (£110! Ack!) but otherwise all went well.

Results come in Monday, but I'm not expecting any nasties
posted by dodgygeezer at 11:21 AM on June 16, 2004

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