Seizures in cats are pretty uncommon, but they do happen. Seeing your cat have a seizure, or convulsion, is scary. It may look bad, but remember that your cat is not in pain during the seizure.
What would cause your cat to have a seizure? Are there warning signs? Can natural treatments help?
What Causes A Cat To Have A Seizure
There are many things that can cause your kitty to have a seizure. One of the first things you should do is evaluate your cat’s diet. Regular cat food that you buy at the grocery or local big box store contains chemicals, coloring agents, stabilizers and fillers that aren’t good for cats. Sodium nitrate, which commonly used in dry cat food, has been shown in clinical trials to cause seizures in cats that are similar to epileptic attacks.
Your local pet supply store probably carries natural cat food. Online, Only Natural Pet Store is a great source of additive-free cat food.
Many household cleaners and floor polishes contain chemicals which can damage your kitty’s nervous system, as well as causing cancer, heart disease, and liver problems. Keep your kitty in another well-ventilated room or outside when you’re using these products. You may want to consider using “green” products to protect your health too.
Other causes of seizures include:
- A condition similar to a stroke in which the blood supply to your cat’s brain is restricted. This is the cause of about 20% of seizures in cats.
- A severe parasite infestation, especially if her immune system is stressed
- Liver or kidney problems
- Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar
- Thyroid problems
- Feline diabetes
- Cancer, including brain tumors and lymphoma
- A head injury
- Lead poisoning
- Certain infections, including feline infectious peritonitis, feline leukemia virus, and feline immune-deficiency virus can cause frequent seizures. Cryptococcosis, a fungal infection that appears first in the lungs and spreads to the nervous system, and rabies can also cause seizures.
Seizures are a symptom of many diseases, so it’s important to have your vet check your cat throroughly to rule out any of these conditions. If your vet can’t find out why your cat is having seizures, the diagnosis may be idiopathic epilepsy, which means there is no known cause for the seizures.
What Is Feline Epilepsy?
Feline epilepsy causes involuntary body movements and loss of consciousness. How often your cat has a seizure, and the length of the seizure determines how serious it is.
It’s unusual for kittens to have epilepsy. Usually the first seizure will happen in a cat who’s two or three years old. There are three kinds of seizures:
- Petit mal – your cat may act a little strange, but you may not even notice if your cat has one of these.
- Grand mal – these are the most common in cats. You cat may pass out and have a convulsion. Grand mal seizures usually last about five minutes. Neither grand mal nor petit mal seizures are life-threatening.
- Status epilepticus – a severe seizure that continues for hours without intervals of consciousness. This type of seizure can cause brain damage and death. This is an emergency, so if this happens, get your cat to the vet as quickly as you can.
Cats are more prone to having what is called a Complex Partial Seizure (CPS) instead of convulsions. A cat having a CPS may attack invisible objects, run around frantically, and run into things. She may drool and show facial tics. Your cat’s consciousness is altered before, during, and after the seizure.
What Happens When A Cat Has A Seizure?
Just before your kitty has a seizure, she may be nervous. Or she may hide someplace. Sometimes she’ll look for you. This phase usually lasts only a few seconds.
During the seizure itself, all her muscles will contact. She’ll probably fall on her side with her head drawn back. She may urinate and defecate during the seizure. This phase lasts from a few seconds to up to five minutes. If it lasts longer than five minutes, get your cat to the vet as soon as you can, as this type of seizure can cause brain damage and death.
Once the seizure passes, she may be confused and disoriented. She may drool, and have a temporary vision loss.
If you think you cat is having a seizure, it’s important to note every detail of what happens.
- what parts of her body changed during the seizure?
- how did her breathing change?
- did her legs move? How?
- was her body rigid?
- did her body twist?
- how long did the seizure last?
- how severe was it?
- how long did it take her to recover?
All this information can help your vet determine what caused the seizure.
What Should I Do If My Cat Has A Seizure?
Not much. If she’s on the floor, move furniture out of the way so she doesn’t hit it. Your cat won’t swallow her tongue, so keep your fingers out of her mouth, or you may get bitten pretty badly. And remember, that as bad as it looks, she’s not in pain.
If your cat is up on top of something high, try to get her down so she doesn’t fall and get hurt. Sometimes you can tell when a seizure is coming, so you can get her in a safe place.
Your kitty will probably want you around to comfort her as she comes to. Try to keep her quiet as she recovers. Contact your vet, as he or she will probably want to see your cat.
How Are Seizures Treated?
Most vets use anticonvulsants like phonobarbital or diazepam. These are considered safe for cats. But there are side effects:
- dopiness from being over-sedated
- loss of coordination
- an increase in thirst and in urination
- allergic reactions, including low platelet and white blood cell counts
- temporary facial swelling
- blood clotting disorders
Are There Any Natural Treatments?
Many cats improve when they are switched to a better diet, as mentioned above. Reducing any environmental toxins can also help. Give vaccinations only when really necessary, as some kitties have seizures after getting a shot.
Things to keep in mind when using herbal remedies:
- Herbs take time to build in the system, so don’t expect immediate results. It can take from several days up to a week or more to know if the herbal remedy is effective.
- It’s best to give a smaller dose three times a day instead of one large dose every day. The herbs need to remain and build in your kitty’s system.
- The recommended dosages may need to be adjusted depending on your cat’s response. If vomiting, diarrhea or other signs of intolerance occur, stop giving the remedy for two days, and then start again with half the original dose to see if the lower dose can be tolerated.
- Use only one remedy or medication of any kind at a time. Don’t add anything else until you’ve seen a response or signs of intolerance.
- Herbs and natural remedies work best with cats who are eating the healthiest and freshest diet possible.
- Do NOT discontinue your cat’s meds before consulting your cat’s vet! Most of these remedies can be taken right alongside conventional treatments, but alway check with your vet to prevent possible interactions.
What Natural Remedies Are Available?
EaseSure, from PetAlive, is a 100% natural blend of herbal and homeopathic ingredients specially selected to support your kitty’s brain and nervous system.
EaseSure contains the following:
- Passionflower is used to promote calm and support the routine equilibrium of the nervous system.
- Skullcap has been traditionally used to promote the natural equilibrium normally present in the mind. It also helps to maintain a healthy attitude and ‘even keel’.
- Hyoscyamus 30C is a homeopathic remedy used for mental and emotional problems.
- Belladonna 30C has a calming influence on nervous and jumpy individuals.
- Cuprum mettalicum 30C supports the nervous system, while at the same time it encourages routine digestive function.
Doc Ackerman’s Epilepsy & Seizure Formula is another herbal remedy for seizures. It contains blue vervain, chamomile, ginseng, nutmeg, passionflower, St. John’s wort, and valerian root.
Flower essences can also help with seizures. If you see a seizure coming on, you can rub Emergency Rescue Flower Essences on your cat’s skin, lips, ears, or paws. This remedy can be used before and during a seizure.
After the seizure has passed, Seizures Flower Essences can be used to help your cat recover more quickly.
Both of these flower essences can be used every day for controlling seizures. You can give them four times a day, and mix them with your cat’s food or water, or put them in a misting bottle, and spray your kitty gently with them.