Identifying, Treating, and Preventing Seizures in Cats

There are many different diseases (for example, diabetes and brain tumors) and toxins (antifreeze, rat poisons) that can cause seizures in cats. Sometimes, as in the case of idiopathic epilepsy, the cause of seizure activity is unknown. (If you have a canine pet experiencing similar issues, read Seizures in Dogs.)

Please note: these articles have been provided for informational purposes only. If your pet is showing any signs of illness, please consult a veterinarian as quickly as possible.

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    Veterinarian examining cat in surgery
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    Learn about types of seizures and what to do if your pet has a seizure in this Q & A.

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    Understanding Seizures and Epilepsy

    There may be a lesion inside of the brain that causes the seizure. There are numerous diseases that can cause damage to the brain itself. There are also other diseases that do not directly cause lesions to form in the brain, but instead change the metabolism of the brain or change the way that electricity flows through the cells of the brain.


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    Types of Seizures in Cats

    In cats, seizures are often focal in origin though generalized seizures can be seen as well. This is somewhat different in dogs where the majority of seizures are generalized.

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    Causes of Seizures in Cats

    Feline seizures can be caused by changes in the brain itself or from diseases that originate elsewhere in the cat’s body but affect the brain adversely by changing the way the brain’s metabolism works or changing the electrical functions within the brain.

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    Diagnosing Seizures and Epilepsy

    Seizures in cats can be caused by many different illnesses. As a result, if your cat has a seizure, your veterinarian will need to perform some diagnostic tests before a proper course of treatment can be determined.

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    What To Do if Your Cat Is Having a Seizure

    Watching your cat have a seizure can be a frightening experience. However, with a little bit of knowledge, you can make the situation safer for your pet and less frightening for you.

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    What is Status Epilepticus?

    Seizures in cats, in most instances, only last a short period of time. However, less commonly, the seizure does not stop. This is a condition called Status Epilepticus.

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    Comparing Feline Seizures to Other Diseases or Conditions

    Seizures are the most common neurological abnormality seen in dogs and they can occur with some frequency in cats also. However, there are a few other conditions that can look very much like a seizure. It can sometimes be difficult to differentiate between these conditions and a true seizure.

    Continue to 9 of 11 below.
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    Treating Cats with Epilepsy and/or Seizures

    Seizures can occur in cats and can have many different causes. If it is possible to locate the cause of your cat’s seizures and treat that cause, this is the best treatment option.

    However, in many cases, treating the underlying cause of feline seizures may not be possible.

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    Medications to Control Seizures in Cats

    Phenobarbital is the medication that is most commonly used to treat seizures and epilepsy in dogs and cats. There are other medications for canine and feline seizures too. Learn more about traditional and newer seizure control medications.

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    Phenobarbital for Treating Seizures and Epilepsy

    Phenobarbital is a barbiturate medication that acts as an anticonvulsant. As an anticonvulsant, it is used to prevent recurrent seizures and treat epilepsy in cats and dogs. Phenobarbital acts by decreasing the activity in the brain cells (neurons) that cause the seizures to occur.

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