What You Need to Know About Feline Seizures

Dazed feline laying on the floor

There are several types of feline seizures, and some can indicate a serious medical problem. Learn the signs so you can be aware if your cat experiences one, allowing you to get her medical treatment right away.

What Are the Sypmtoms of Cat Seizures?

A seizure in a cat can be identified in a variety of ways. Not every cat is the same and not every seizure will look the same. In fact, feline seizure activity may vary in the same animal from episode to episode. Veterinarians describe seizure intensity in three levels:

  • Petit mal
    • Mood swings
    • Blank stare
    • Shaking leg
    • Crying out
    • Lasts one minute or less
  • Grand mal
    • Falling to one side
    • Urinating uncontrollably
    • Defecating uncontrollably
    • Swimming motions
    • Frothing of the mouth
    • Crying
    • Unaware of anything
    • Lasts five minutes
  • Status epilepticus
    • Most severe type of seizure
    • Same symptoms as grand mal seizure
    • Lasts for hours
    • The cat may come out of it only to go back into seizure
  • Other symptoms that may occur in any of the above are:
    • Viciousness
    • Hallucinations
    • Head may draw back as muscles contract
    • Temporary blindness

    Prior to a seizure, your cat may act in unusual ways. It may seem restless or nervous. It may seek you out for more attention than usual or hide from you. Try to find the pattern to your pet's seizure activity so you can describe it to your veterinarian.

What Causes Feline Seizures?

Seizures may have any one cause or a combination of several causes. Although seizures are often associated with primary epilepsy, there are many more illnesses that can result in this activity. When feline seizure activity is related to an underlying medical problem, it is called secondary epilepsy.

Primary Epilepsy

The term primary epilepsy is often used to describe feline seizures for which no underlying cause can be found. If a cat is epileptic, it will normally have the first seizure somewhere between its second and third year of life. Seizures that happen prior to this time generally have some other medical reason.

Epilepsy cannot be cured, but it can be controlled with medication. Feline seizures are usually not life threatening, but it is important to report all suspicious activity to your vet. In the case of status epilepticus type seizures, the cat's internal temperature could rise to unhealthy levels for an extended period of time. This can lead to failure of vital organs like the liver and kidneys.

Other Causes for Seizures


Your vet will listen carefully to your description of the seizures that your pet has been experiencing. This is why it is very important to pay close attention to any symptoms that may be related to the seizures. Take notes so you can give your veterinarian as much detail as possible.

The vet will take blood for testing. He will do a thorough work-up to try to find any underlying cause for the seizures. Tests may include:

  • Neurological evaluation
  • Testing of spinal fluid
  • Imaging procedures

If your vet can't find the cause, he may refer you to a specialist. It is always a good idea to get a second opinion if you have any doubts or concerns.

What's Next?

If your cat has been diagnosed with feline seizures of any sort, you will need to decide what you want to do about it. Heeding your veterinarian's advice as well as controlling the seizures with diet and/or medication are important steps to keeping your pet healthy.

You may need to decide how far you want to go and what you can afford. If the reason for the feline seizures is not immediately apparent, further testing can cost quite a bit of money. You will have to decide if this is an expense that you can afford. You may need to give your cat medications regularly. In the case of feline diabetes, you may need to give your cat daily insulin injections.

You are the only one that can decide what is best for you and your pet. Discuss all of your options with your veterinarian, spend some time learning about the cause of the seizures and the make the decision that you can live with the best.

Many cats that have been diagnosed with feline seizures have gone on to live long, happy and healthy lives with the right treatment.

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What You Need to Know About Feline Seizures