The first time that you see a cat suffer a seizure it can be a truly horrifying experience. You feel completely helpless and it looks for all the world as if the cat concerned is about to expire. I will certainly never forget the moment that my cat Yasmin first collapsed in front of me.
Her seizure was preceded by a hideous scream that sounded like a toddler having a panic attack. She then keeled over and began shaking violently whilst salivating. After a few seconds she stopped fitting, lay still for a moment and then stood up and walked away as if nothing had happened! I didn’t have the foggiest idea what I had just witnessed.
A visit to my vet and extensive tests revealed that Yasmin was suffering from epilepsy. I was devastated. My vet warned me that the seizures could become more frequent and threaten her health. He also advised me that she could be seriously injured if she was to have a seizure when sitting on a wall or roof as she would fall off. This was very bad news as her favourite place to hang out was the roof of my garden shed. As she also had other health problems I feared that my one year old cat would not be around for long.
Yasmin continued to have seizures throughout her life. These could be weeks
apart or hours apart. On one occasion I found her covered in blood in the garden with terrible wounds to her head and legs. There seemed to no explanation for her injuries other than that she had experienced a seizure and fallen from a lofty position. My vet informed me that she would probably not survive this episode. By this time she was 11 years old and so I did feel that she had done well to live that long.
But she did survive, albeit it with a rather unfortunate gait in the wake of the surgery which saved her legs. She eventually died of stomach cancer at the age of 17 years and 4 months. The seizures were distressing but did not shorten her life. So if your cat suffers from seizures don’t despair!
Other Causes of Seizures
Seizures are not always caused by epilepsy. They can be the result of other brain disorders including tumours, lesions and fungal infections. Seizures may also be caused by hypertension or exposure to toxins including antifreeze and, very rarely, flea treatments. Recent research suggests that feline seizures can also be triggered by particular sounds. These are called audiogenic reflex seizures and could be a response to something as simple as the sound of scrunching aluminium foil or cutlery striking a plate.
What Should You Do?
If you do observe a seizure then see your vet as soon as possible to establish the underlying cause. During a seizure don’t touch your cat unless they are in a dangerous position as you are likely to get seriously scratched. If they are in a danger then you may need to intervene and it can be best to wrap them in a towel in order to move them. Don’t panic because many of the conditions which cause seizures can be controlled with medication or may not require any treatment. Yasmin never received any treatment for her epilepsy and yet survived for 17 years.