There’s nothing more depressing than witnessing your beloved cat having a seizure. But here’s a way to understand the condition so you can be properly prepared.
When my cat Austin had her very first seizure I was in complete shock. One reason being that I had never seen her act like this before. Another being that I didn’t know if she was going to survive. It was quite frightening being ignorant of her situation until I received information about it from her vet. Because my cat suffers from seizures, it makes me feel like I should pass on the information to other cat owners who may still be new to the condition and unfamiliar with how to give their cats the proper care during seizures.
Why Seizures Happen Within Cats and What to Expect
A seizure is a neurological condition characterized by abnormal electrical activities in the brain. Recurring seizures are usually associated with epilepsy. The condition causes muscle convulsions, twitching, and violent, uncontrollable shaking. Seizures can occur because of several things, including:
- Brain Tumors
- Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)
- Liver Disease
- Heartworm Disease
- Kidney Disease
- Certain toxins at home
Seizures usually fall into two categories; focal and generalized. Focal seizures or partial seizures are when activity occurs in the cerebral cortex. Generalized seizures occur when activity affects the left or right hemispheres of the brain, causing effects on the whole body.
During focal seizures, a cat may act in aggressive behaviors with a constant loud cry, accompanied by excessive drooling, as he or she may be in pain. One of their legs may lose function, further inhibiting them to be able to stand up on their own. They may also open and close their mouths while staring blankly.
With generalized seizures, cats lose consciousness and the ability to control muscle activity. The position of their body during the seizure is normally on their side, as they kick their legs in paddling or swimming like fashion. They can often urinate and defecate on themselves and be completely unaware or confused about what just happened after they come out of the seizure.
How to Make Your Cat Feel Comfortable During and After Their Seizure
It’s never easy to watch your cat experience something so troubling. Though every cat owner has their own individual experiences, you must know what to do if your cat has a seizure. And If they have recurring seizures, you’ll need to know what measures to take.
As they’re having an episode, you need to make sure that their surrounding is free of dangerous objects, such as hard and sharp edges of furniture. While not being in control of their muscle activity, they can further hurt themselves by bumping into things. For Austin, I prefer to be quick on my feet and grab either a towel or a blanket to place around her area so she doesn’t get injured.
After the seizure, your cat will likely be distraught. As he or she regains their composure, sit with them so they do not further feel scared or alone; but not too close because they may need space. In my experience, my cat usually sits in the area where she just had her seizure. So to make her feel comfortable, I clean the area if she urinated in it, and bring her cat bed and water bowl to her.
Taking the Necessary Steps to Prevent Future Seizures
While there is no cure for seizures, there are steps you can take to prevent them. Your vet may want to discuss with you the duration and frequency of seizures. They’ll usually end up prescribing medication to treat it such as phenobarbital, commonly used to treat seizures in dogs and people.
Since seizure medication has to be taken every day, your cat must not miss a dose. Doing so can cause serious harm, such as an increased risk of status epilepticus—seizures lasting longer than 5 minutes. They also risk cluster seizures; back-to-back seizures within 24 hours.
All cats are different when taking medication. While some may be okay with you putting a pill down their throat, others are a bit reluctant. If this is the case for your cat, try putting the medication inside their food or certain treats to mask the smell so they can easily swallow it down. But if your cat is anything like my Austin, they’re probably too smart and you’ll have to take the classic route of dropping the pill in their mouth manually.
Regardless of the type of seizures your cat has, you never want to witness them in pain. Always listen to your veterinarian regarding the best measures to take to insure your cat’s greatest care. Continuing to stay up to date and educated on your cat’s health is a vital step in making sure they maintain long and happy lives.