Epilepsy in Kittens

by Karen Dell April 17, 2019

There are many reasons why a kitten – or cat – can have a seizure. One of these is that they suffer from epilepsy; a congenital and lifelong illness that is treatable.
The 3 stages of seizures
It’s important to note that there are three stages involved in seizures and that you may have some kind of warning signs from your kitten before they happen. These stages are:
  • The aural stage: During the aural stage, your kitten’s behaviour will change and be out of the ordinary. They may hide, go looking for you, or be restless. They could even be shaking, vomiting or drooling. This phase can last anything from a few seconds to a few hours.
  • The seizure itself: The seizure itself can last anything from a few seconds to about five minutes. During the seizure, all the muscles may contract and the kitten may fall onto its side as well. During some seizures, kittens urinate, defecate, and drool as well. However, your kitten is not in pain during the seizure even though it looks frightening.
  • Following the seizure: Once the seizure is over, your kitten will most likely be confused and disoriented. There may also be temporary blindness. They may, in their confusion not recognise you and even run away from you. However, know that your presence and attention will be a comfort to your kitten as they regain their full consciousness. It may be a few days before your kitten seems completely “normal’ again.
Symptoms of seizures
A seizure could include your kitten having several of the following symptoms together. Not all symptoms are present for each seizure.
The main symptoms of a seizure include:
  • Muscle contractions
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Hallucinations
  • Involuntary urination and/or defecation
  • Drooling
  • Other symptoms include:
  • Loss of recognition of their owner
  • Pacing
  • Running in circles
What to do if your kitten has a seizure
Although your first instinct is to get your kitten in the car and to the vet when they have a seizure, keeping them safe must be your first priority. Most seizures are also very short; which doesn’t give you enough time to get them in the car and to the vet while the seizure is still happening.
While the seizure is happening, you can, however, do the following to help your kitten through it:
  • Try to remain as calm as possible – even after the seizure is finished.
  • While the seizure is happening, and your cat is making uncontrolled movements, they are unconscious, so be careful not to be scratched. And don’t get too close to their teeth with your fingers, either, as you could get bit.
  • If you can, move your kitten away from furniture, stairs, and any objects which could hurt them.
  • Remove any other pets from the room/area as they could get very upset or fearful or could even attack the seizing kitten. It’s best for everyone’s safety, then, to remove them.
  • If the seizure doesn’t stop, or more seizures happen in quick succession, get them to the vet immediately.
During the seizure and going to the vet
Although it can be very difficult, pay attention to as much details as you can when your kitten is having a seizure. The vet will need as much information as possible to make a proper pre-diagnosis. If you can, take a cellphone video of the ordeal to show the vet.
Take note of:
  • Breathing patterns
  • The motion of their limbs (or whether their limbs remain rigid)
  • Twisting of their body or muscle twitching
  • Their eyes’ dilation or motion
  • Whether they’re drooling
  • Whether they urinated or defecated
  • What were their reactions after the seizure ended?

Once the seizure is over, it’s time to head to the vet. Phone ahead and tell the vet what happened if you can as that will help them to prepare on their side.
Place your kitten in their carrier, putting a favourite blanket or toy in with them as a way to calm them and feel more at ease. Talking to them in a soothing tone can also help a lot.
Diagnosis
The diagnosis is primarily based on the information that you can provide, plus direct observation of a seizure. (This is where a video could come in handy.) Give the vet as much information as you can, including what your kitten had eaten, etc. to rule out any other reasons for a seizure, for instance, poisoning.
Diagnostics tests will then be done to determine the cause of the seizure your kitten had. The tests will include blood and urine and, possibly, X-rays. If required, the cerebrospinal fluid will be tested and MRI imaging may be done. EEGs (Electroencephalograms) are rarely performed.
Treatment
If a single epileptic seizure shorter than 5 minutes takes place, it’s usually not treated except for stopping the actual seizure. However, long-lasting seizures (longer than 5 minutes), cluster seizures (seizures that happen one after the other) or seizures that recur every two months or less, are treated over the long term or even life-long using anticonvulsants.
Your kitten will have to have regular check-ups and blood tests to ensure that the medication isn’t affecting them in a negative way.
Other causes of seizures include
Hypoglycemia, kidney disease, liver disease, meningitis, tumours, and various infections. Eating something toxic could also cause seizures.

Photo by Pexels.




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