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What are the Signs of Seizures in Cats?

By Debra Durkee
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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Seizures in cats are not uncommon, and may or may not be a manifestation of a more serious problem. Recognizing the signs is a crucial step in being able to correct something wrong in the cat's diet, environment, or health. The first thing is to be familiar with the cat's typical, everyday behavior, and be on the lookout for anything abnormal.

Many cats will display a change in their behavior before the seizures set in. They may meow with a distinct, unfamiliar call, or seem abnormally distant or aloof. Some cats may appear to forget where they are and what is going on around them, and may not respond to their names or any other stimulus. Cats that are typically standoffish may become strangely friendly, while friendly cats may want nothing to do with their human companions or other animals. This typically lasts only a few minutes before the seizure starts, allowing for little time to get the cats to a place where they will not injure themselves when they lose control of their body and muscle movements.

There are different grades of seizures in cats. Small ones can be difficult to detect, and may only involve brief facial twitching or small, localized muscle spasms. Other seizures can result in the cat's loss of control of muscles and voluntary and involuntary movements. This can manifest itself in an inability to stand, drooling, or a loss of bladder control. This type of seizure often begins with a shivering that seizes the cat's entire body.

Whatever the reason, seizures in cats can last anywhere from a few moments to hours. Pre-seizure behavior is often a sign that the cat knows there is something wrong, and is looking for reassurance. Cats will lose awareness of themselves and of their surroundings during a seizure, so they will generally not know anyone is there for them while they are in the midst of a seizure. This is called the ictus phase.

Seizures in cats can be frightening, and after the seizure has passed, they will likely be disoriented and confused. They may lose their sight, and while this can last several days after the seizure, it is typically only a temporary condition. A seizure can be a sign of a serious, underlying problem, so recognizing the symptoms of seizures in cats is vital; a careful record of symptoms, duration, and aftermath of a seizure can help veterinarians come to the correct diagnosis, as it is unlikely that they will see the seizure themselves.

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