As we know, the brain is essential for perception, coordination, and other essential functions. When structural or functional damage occurs, these activities can be altered, producing neuronal overstimulation and overload. This will cause epileptic seizures, with symptoms such as seizures and loss of consciousness. Let’s talk about epilepsy in cats.
What is epilepsy in cats?
Epilepsy is a physical pathology caused by a sporadic alteration of a group of neurons. In cats, it is not very frequent, but it can occur through epileptic seizures.
These crises are triggered when there is an excess of the electrical activity of a group of hyperexcitable neurons in the brain. As a consequence, the behavior, movement, and level of consciousness of the cat can be affected.
Causes of epilepsy in cats
Epilepsy in cats appears idiopathically, that is, without reason or due to stimuli or diseases.
Some cats have a genetic predisposition to epilepsy and others have it for other reasons, such as a lack of oxygen delivery to the brain or damage to nerve tissue. Some of the most common alterations that can cause epilepsy in cats are:
- Cancer (tumors).
- Congenital or acquired malformations of the descending or ascending vessels.
- Inflammations, such as encephalitis or meningitis.
- Injuries, such as trauma.
In addition, it must be taken into account that epilepsy does not always originate in the brain. It can be caused by alterations outside the same and then it will be extracerebral epilepsy.
In those cases, the reasons that can cause it are:
- Metabolic disorders
- Lack of vitamins or nutrients.
Symptoms of epilepsy in cats
There are four phases into which epileptic seizures are divided and the symptoms are quite different from each other.
- Prodromal phase. It appears from a few hours before to days before the attack arrives. It is characterized by a very evident agitation in the animal.
- Aura. The behavior of the cat in this phase may vary depending on the specimen. While some may be aggressive or suspicious of their family, others are very eager to be around people.
- Ictus. Describe the seizure as such.
- Postictal phase. It is the moment of recovery. At such times, cats are exhausted and sleep a lot.
In addition to the aforementioned, it is worth noting some signs that occur during the epileptic seizure itself and even during the other phases.
- The cat stretches all its limbs, making them very rigid.
- Hallucinations They can be reflected in self-biting, running, constant meowing.
- Sudden falls
- Muscle contractions
- Convulsions of the muscles.
- Involuntary evacuation of urine and feces.
- Increased salivation.
- Chewing movements.
Seizures usually only last a few seconds or minutes. Then the cat’s brain works normally again.
Diagnosis of feline epilepsy
When epilepsy occurs in cats, they must be taken to the veterinarian to be examined.
The professional will ask his tutor a series of questions to gather essential information and rule out possible causes.
Then a general check-up will be carried out and the tests that the veterinarian deems necessary will be carried out: blood or cerebrospinal fluid samples for viral or bacterial infections, inflammations, or metabolic diseases; X-rays, MRI, a CT scan, etc.
Treatment of epilepsy in cats
The treatment of feline epilepsy will depend a lot on what the original cause of it is. This is why veterinary intervention and your ability to determine it are so important.
The best therapy usually consists of eliminating or correcting the causative factor, if any. In addition, the degree of residual or pre-existing brain injury must be taken into account, as it can persist even if the cause that gave rise to it is eliminated.
Regarding the treatment of the main cause:
- In the event of trauma, surgical intervention can be performed.
- Antibiotics are often prescribed for bacterial infections.
- The tumors are treatable with radiation therapy or chemotherapy. It could also be removed in certain cases.
- When the causes of idiopathic epilepsy are unknown, the administration of barbiturates is usually recommended.
The prognosis of the cat that suffers from epilepsy will depend on the cause and the degree of affectation in which the feline is. Unfortunately, it is not something that can be cured as such, but with the appropriate treatment, good quality of life can be provided to the animal
What can I do if my cat has an epileptic seizure?
It is very important to act appropriately if you notice that your cat is having an epileptic seizure or to avoid worsening its effects, causing harm to the animal or causing it to you:
- Stay calm as much as possible. We know that it is a difficult time, but it is important to act calmly so as not to make mistakes.
- Avoid shocks. Make sure the cat hits or falls during the attack. It removes from its surroundings everything with which it could collide.
- Don’t try to get your tongue out of his mouth. It could end up biting you unintentionally.
- If the doctor has prescribed and explained the guidelines to follow with medication for these cases and it is not the first time, comply with their indications.
What you should not do about epilepsy in cats
When a cat suffers from epilepsy or seizures, here is what you should avoid:
- Cover the cat or give it heat: it could get worse, especially if it is already short of air.
- Give him water, food, or medicine during the attack, as he could choke.
- Hold him tightly. Be very careful, especially with your head. You could fracture your neck.
- Although the cat may be very thirsty or hungry after the attack, it is better to remove the dishes until you detect that it has fully recovered its reflexes. If you eat after epilepsy, you could have trouble swallowing.
Every cat should live in a quiet environment. Only in this way can problems such as stress or hyperesthesia be avoided in cats. But it is also essential in felines that suffer from epilepsy since the restlessness of the environment can act as a trigger for the epileptic seizure.