Seizures in Cats: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatments, Preventions

Cats with Idiopathic Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a brain condition that results in sudden, uncontrollable, recurrent physical attacks in the affected cat, along with or without loss of consciousness. Idiopathic epilepsy is the term used when this happens for an unidentified cause. Dogs get epilepsy more frequently than cats do.

Types and Symptoms

Cat seizures are typically preceded by a brief aura (or focal onset). When this happens, the cat may act frightened and confused, hide, or try to attract attention. The cat will turn over once the seizure starts. It might stiffen up, clench its jaw, salivate a lot, urinate, spit out its feces, vocalize, and/or paddle with all four limbs. Typically, these seizure-related behaviors last between 30 and 90 seconds.

Most seizures happen when the patient is at rest or asleep, frequently at night or in the early morning. By the time you take the cat to the vet for a checkup, most cats have also recovered from the consequences of the seizure.

Cats typically experience their first epileptic seizures between the ages of one and four. Postictal conduct, also known as behavior that occurs after a seizure, involves bewilderment, disorientation, compulsive activity, blindness, pacing, excessive thirst (polydipsia), and increased appetite (polyphagia). Following the seizure, recovery could happen right away or it might take up to 24 hours.


The cause is frequently unknown. Idiopathic epilepsy may have a hereditary component in some circumstances.


Age at beginning and seizure pattern are the two most crucial elements in the diagnosis of idiopathic epilepsy (type and frequency). Your veterinarian will likely explore a diagnosis other than idiopathic epilepsy if your cat experiences more than two seizures in the first week after the onset of the condition. If the cat experiences seizures before the age of one or after the age of four, the cause may be either metabolic or intracranial (inside the skull). While neurologic impairments or focal seizures are signs of structural intracranial illness.

A full blood count, blood chemistry profile, thyroid screening, and testing for viruses like feline leukemia and feline AIDS are frequently the first steps in the diagnosis process. Your veterinarian may also advise getting a urinalysis.

Specialized brain imaging tests, like a CT scan or MRI, may be part of additional testing. Additionally, it might be advised to analyze the spinal fluid obtained through a spinal tap.



The majority of the treatment is received outside of the hospital. Depending on the frequency and intensity of the seizures, anticonvulsant drugs may be required.

Managing and Living

Monitoring therapeutic medication levels in the blood is crucial. For instance, after starting medication, the blood and serum chemistry profile of cats receiving phenobarbital must be frequently checked. Depending on drug serum levels and a patient’s reaction to treatment, drug dosages may need to be changed.

Older cats receiving potassium bromide medication need to have their kidney function closely evaluated. Your vet could suggest a food adjustment for your older cat if it will be receiving therapy for epileptic seizures.

Cats with hereditary or idiopathic epilepsy should be spayed or neutered to stop the condition from spreading.

Never administer over-the-counter drugs to your cat if it has epilepsy without first consulting your veterinarian. These drugs may increase seizure activity or interfere with anticonvulsant drugs by lowering the seizure threshold.

Anticonvulsant medicine doses that are skipped can be harmful to your cat. To minimize missing doses, cats on medicine for epilepsy should be kept inside.


There is not much you can do to avoid this type of epilepsy when it is brought on by genetic defects. However, abruptly stopping any medication(s) your cat is taking to treat seizures could make them worse or even start them again.

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