Seizures in Cats
Are very real and can be frightening the first time you witness one

Seizures in cats can stop your heart as they are a truly frightening experience for both owners as well as your cat.

They can last for just a few seconds, or they can last for several agonizing minutes as you helplessly witness this horrific series of events.


The best thing you can do if your cat experiences a seizure is not to panic, but rather collect yourself, take a breath, and time the seizures.

The amount of time that they last will be critical for your veterinarian.

Seizures in cats are not always epilepsy; in fact, there are several different diseases or conditions that can cause your cat to have a seizure.

Seizures in cats are not a disease, but rather the symptoms of some type of a neurological disorder that is affecting your cat.

And to complicate it even further, the age of your cat usually determines what type of seizure that they are having.

Also referred to as convulsions, they are a very sudden excessive firing of nerves in the brain.

As a result of this rapid firing, they cause your cats voluntary muscles to have a series of involuntary contractions.

They may also have sensations that are anything but normal, as well as very strange behaviors while in the seizure.

Your cat may have all of these nerve reactions at one time, or they may experience just one of the forms as it depends on the underlying cause.

However, that is where the real difficulty comes in properly identifying the cause.

In most cases it is what is referred to as idiopathic, which means there is no known cause.


Proud catsSeizures in cats can be very frightening

There are three basic periods with seizures in cats.

The first is what is called the Aura period in which your cat will show you signs that something is about to happen.

They may mean nothing to you at first, but if your cat has repeated seizures you can pick up on these signs very quickly.

They may surface very suddenly, or they last for several days.

But watch closely; your cat is calling for help.

At first your cat may become restless and start to whine, shake, or salivate more than normal.

They may also seek affection to the point of almost being irritating, or they may do just the opposite, and try to hide. But listen to your cat as they are trying to tell you that something is wrong.

The next period is called the Ictus period, when the seizure actually occurs.

In this period your cat has lost touch with their surroundings and will have no clue of what is happening as their nerves are firing out of control in their brain.

They may fall suddenly and then look like they are running or even trying to paddle, and in some cases loss complete control of their bladders.

This is the involuntary reaction to voluntary muscles.

The final period is referred to as the Posticial period and this happens immediately after seizures in cats. Your cat will have a very dazed and confused look simply because they are.

They have no idea of what just happened to them.

They may not respond to you at all or they may do just the opposite and run to you for comfort and safety.

This period can very short, or it may take days for them to fully recover from what just happened.


The causes of these seizures in cats will be broken down by the age of your pet; less than one year old, one to five years old, and then greater than five years old.

Seizures in cats less than one year old can be caused by infectious diseases that are triggered by viral, bacterial, or fungi infections.

The most common forms are distemper and encephalitides.

Feline distemper is most often referred to as Panelukopenia which is extremely contagious and invades your cat’s cells. Its most common symptom is seizures.

Encephalitides is not very common in cats, but it is especially dangerous as it is an acute form of a brain infection that can cause altered states with or without seizures.

Seizures in young cats can also be caused by a toxic poisoning, an enzyme deficiency, or a nutritional deficiency caused by a parasite infection.

In cats that are between one year and five years of age, it is almost impossible to determine the actual cause, and therefore referred to as idiopathic.

In cats older than five years of age, the underlying causes of seizures shifts dramatically.

The three most common causes of seizures with older cats are metastatic cancer, kidney failure, or distemper.

Metastatic cancer generally affects the lungs and the lymph nodes it your cat, but it is especially dangerous as it can spread to other organs very rapidly.

This can occur though the bloodstream and affect the brain causing seizures.

Kidney failure in older cats is often fatal and is the most common cause of death in this age group.

kidney failure can be caused by an acute injury to the kidneys, but is most often caused by a decreased blood flow of both oxygen and blood to your pets kidneys.

Once this occurs, your cat will start to loss coordination as well as becoming disoriented very easily. Because of the loss of oxygen, it can also trigger seizures.

There is one of underlying condition that may affect all three age groups with seizures, known as Hydrocephalus.

Hydrocephalus is also referred to as water on the brain and is a condition where excess cerebrospinal fluid builds in the cavities of your cat’s brain.

The actual cause is not known, but it is believed to be hereditary in Siamese, Persian, and Manx cats.

In is also very uncommon in that it affects cats less than one year of age or it can lay silent and affect older cats as there seems to be no middle commonality.

Seizures in cats can be a horrific experience, but it is critical to remain calm and try to time the actual seizure.

Diagnosing the actual cause is extremely difficult for your veterinarian, but the time frame may give them at least a clue of the actual cause.


However, there are emergency symptoms that you will also need to watch for.

If your cat has seizures that last more than ten minutes or occur more than twice in 24 hours, something is not right.

However if they occur again before your cat has fully recovered from the first attack. there is something horribly wrong and your cat needs immediate medical attention.

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