Recognize and treat epileptic seizures in your cat

Posted on December 14 2018

Recognize and treat epileptic seizures in your cat

Among the many diseases that catches your cat throughout his life, epilepsy can catch up with him. Several origins can explain crises that, repeated, must alert you. What are they ? Can we prevent them? How is the diagnosis made? What treatments to bring?

What is an epileptic seizure?

According to the Social Security website, epilepsy is characterized by epileptic seizures . This may reflect a sudden and transient disruption of the electrical activity of the brain . In fact, we have before us a pathology of neurological origin . Of electric shock through the body of the human, and here your cat.

The epileptic seizure in your cat, is close to that perceived in humans. Your feline will experience seizures with other symptoms that can be impressive.

How is it manifested?

The seizure traditional splits into 3 steps well distinct.

At first, we find the aura phase that precedes the crisis itself. Your cat will be more anxious , more agitated . This phase can last a few days before the crisis. You will probably never notice these signs that can mean anything else.

Then you will find the ictus which is the crisis in itself. It lasts only one minute maximum. This is when your cat will convulse , more or less intensely depending on the origin of his epilepsy.

Finally, you will have the post-ictal phase that corresponds to the post-crisis period. Your cat, tired by his convulsions, must recover . He may be a little lethargic , weak . It may be that his behavior is changing. This last phase can last one or more days.

Be careful, not all crises are equal . Epilepsy can take many forms and convulsions also, depending on the location of the affected brain cells . Moreover, there are 2 types of crisis s.
  • Primary epilepsy
This is the leading cause of epileptic seizures in your cat. These primary seizures are also called idiopathic seizures. Your cat has no brain damage or clinical disorder . Despite this normal brain , however, he will undergo some repeated convulsions . If, in the dog, the genetic origin has been proved, this is not the case in the cat.
  • Secondary epilepsy

Or epilepsy lesion . This time, part of the brain is affected. Seizures are the consequences of a tumor , malformation , sequel or other trauma.

What are the origins?

We are dealing with sometimes intracranial or extra-cranial origins.

  • Intracranial origins

In particular, we find tumors, malformations , encephalitis or vascular accidents . These are the most serious and life- threatening origins.

  • Extra cranial origins

Your cat may have seizures without really having an epileptic seizure . In this case, we will rather talk about an allergic reaction , intoxication with plants , certain foods, with chemical compounds . On the other hand, there are also crises related to the dysfunction of certain organs such as the liver , the pancreas , or even related to hypoglycemia.

In a subject under 5 years of age, most of the time, it can be considered that seizures are primary . On the other hand, the older your cat gets, the more the origin can be intracranial and therefore suggest a more serious tumor or brain disease.

The diagnosis

You may not notice the first epileptic seizures of your cat. Moreover, it does not suffer during these phases fast enough. Nevertheless, as soon as you start to notice convulsions , it becomes important to note the hours and their duration. But also knowing what might be causing it, such as a stale food or an intolerance to something specific.

You must bring your cat to the vet , who will be the only one to be able to diagnose with certainty the epilepsy of your feline. How? Firstly thanks to a blood test . This blood test will verify the proper functioning, or not, of organs such as the liver, kidneys and pancreas. Then, additional examinations are essential to specify the origin. Thus, a CT scan or an MRI may be prescribed with, why not, a cerebrospinal fluid puncture in search of a possible secondary epilepsy.

Diagnosis also helps to make sure your cat is having seizures . In fact, small convulsions can result from other problems, even a bad fall or other pathologies (see below).

The treatment to bring

Treatment is based on the origins of the seizures . Primary crises, spaced apart over time, only require more in-depth monitoring, but not necessarily treatment . The latter will be set up only in case of repeated crises. Depending on the origin of the disease, your cat can be cured . Of course, a seizure with a brain injury greatly reduces the chances of recovery.

The antiepileptic drug can reduce seizures by decreasing the excitation of neurons . It is important to administer the treatment at regular times, between one and three times daily as recommended by the veterinarian. After one month of treatment, it is necessary to return to your veterinarian to adjust the dose . It may be increased if considered insufficient in the past, or reduced if necessary.

Your cat will always be subject to some seizures . This is not necessarily a sign that the treatment is not working. Sometimes you have to be patient . Note that antiepileptic drugs can have some side effects on your cat's mood, but also on his appetite and thirst . These effects tend to fade over time.

Not to be confused with other diseases

Other diseases can cause seizures and do not necessarily mean that your cat is epileptic. This is the case of syncope , which often has a metabolic or cardiac origin. Your cat may also suffer from narcolepsy or catalepsy , which results in a sudden loss of muscle tone . Other pathologies, such as herniated discs , may also explain some convulsions in appearance.

In summary

The epileptic seizure, in your cat, can have several origins. It can be benign, that is to say without injury to the brain. It can be lesion or secondary and therefore be the consequence of a tumor, a more serious neurological disorder, or be a reaction to the dysfunction of a particular organ. It can also be linked to indigestion or even food poisoning. In this case, we will not talk about epilepsy.

The diagnosis is based on a blood test and medical imaging examinations done by your veterinarian . He will be the only one to be able to define the origin of the epilepsy of your feline, and thus to put in place an adequate treatment. Treatment to give in a rigorous way, even if it does not prevent new crises from happening.

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