Cat Seizure Symptoms
Symptoms of seizures can differ significantly based on the specific type and pattern.
During tonic-clonic seizures, it's common to see three separate stages:
Pre-onset (before the seizure):
This stage might commence several hours before the onset of a seizure. Typically, pet owners observe a shift in their pet's demeanor, manifesting as sudden fatigue, listlessness, or increased energy. Particular cats may choose to retreat, whereas others may gravitate toward their human companions. This period is a precursor to unconsciousness, often marked by feelings of mental haziness, drowsiness, and bewilderment.
Ictal (while the seizure is occurring):
During this stage, the cat's brain is unable to regulate bodily functions, leading to a lapse in consciousness. It's common for the cat to experience intense full-body spasms, engage in erratic chewing motions, and salivate excessively, potentially creating foam around the mouth. There might also be unintentional release from the bladder or bowels. Typically, this stage persists for 30-60 seconds, though for some felines, it can extend beyond that timeframe.
Post-ictal (following the seizure):
This period emerges once the convulsions have ceased. It can span anywhere from several hours to two days as the feline gradually returns to its normal state of consciousness and bodily functions. Pet owners might observe signs of fatigue, listlessness, an increased appetite, thirst, occasional vomiting, and a heightened desire for attention.
Localized and Psychomotor Seizures:
Regrettably, localized seizures and psychomotor seizures lack both pre- and post-ictal stages. They might manifest abruptly and seemingly without warning, with felines recovering almost instantaneously, appearing as if they were never affected. The ictal period of such seizures typically displays symptoms like facial spasms, nodding of the head, sporadic leg movements (often involving only one or two limbs), abrupt mouth movements, vocalizations like meowing or growling, continuous circling, or sudden bursts of running.
Seizure Treatments in Cats:
Seizure management in cats largely hinges on the root cause. Addressing conditions like kidney issues, high blood pressure, diabetes, liver ailments, and cancer is crucial to prevent further seizures.
After a cat's initial seizure, treatment might not be immediately necessary. Instead, vets typically suggest keen observation for any recurrence and its timing.
Medications like phenobarbital, potassium bromide, levetiracetam, or zonisamide are prescribed for regular seizure episodes. These drugs are primary treatments for epilepsy and can be given singly or mixed since cats might react differently.
Regular blood tests monitor these anti-convulsant therapies, especially since drugs like phenobarbital can be toxic at specific levels.
In cases like hypoglycemia, poisoning, or severe illnesses (e.g., kidney failure), hospitalization, IV fluids, possibly dextrose, and tailored treatments are essential. Thankfully, kittens with hypoglycemic-induced seizures often stabilize with sugar support in a hospital, combined with proper parasite management and nutritional intake.
Is It Possible to Prevent Cat Seizures?
Once seizures begin in cats, ultimately preventing them is typically challenging, even with top-notch vet and home attention. Continuous check-ups on treatments and the cat's health status become essential. The aim is to minimize the length and occurrence of seizures, ensuring your feline enjoys content and healthy life beside you.
Determining the Cause of Cat Seizures by Vets:
Identifying extracranial triggers of seizures is generally simpler than pinpointing intracranial ones. An MRI, though costly, is essential for comprehensive brain imaging. However, vets typically begin with tests for extracranial causes, including:
- Comprehensive blood tests for bone marrow, kidney, liver, or digestive disorders.
- Urine analysis to detect infections or kidney issues.
- Blood pressure measurement to ensure no hypertension.
- Tests for infectious diseases, including viruses (e.g., FIP, FIV, feline leukemia), bacteria, parasites (like Toxoplasmosis), or fungi such as Cryptococcus.
- Abdominal scans, either x-rays or ultrasounds, evaluate chronic ailments or cancers.
For deeper insight into intracranial concerns, an MRI is deployed. It images the brain and its protective layers. At times, spinal fluid sampling can help diagnose specific infections or inflammation.
Understanding the root cause of a cat's seizures is vital for appropriate management and care. While extracranial triggers are more straightforward to identify, intracranial sources require advanced imaging and evaluation. Regardless of the cause, early detection and intervention are pivotal in ensuring your feline companion's well-being. By collaborating with a veterinarian and staying informed, pet owners can provide the best possible outcomes for their beloved cats.