Epilepsy In Cats

Understand Your Cat

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Epilepsy In Cats

Epilepsy is commonly known as a seizure disorder. Complex partial seizures are more a common form of epilepsy in cats as compared to general convulsions, which are more frequent in dogs.

The symptoms and duration of a feline seizure depends on the intensity of the episode. Although mild to moderate seizures do not pose a hazard to the cat, status epilepictus, or prolonged seizures, is a condition which lasts for hours and can be life-threatening.

Epilepsy is normally classified as primary or idiopathic (meaning without a known cause) or secondary (caused due to a physiological disease or head trauma). Infrequent and mild forms of seizures are known as Partial Motor Seizures or petit mal seizures. These effect specific groups of muscles and epileptic seizures normally last for a minute or so.

Total unconscious state and loss of body movement that lasts for up to five minutes is known as Major Motor Seizures or grand mal seizures.

Complex Partial Seizures are characterized by conspicuous unusual behaviors, or a complete lack of movement  – accompanied by excessive salivation and facial tics. These types of feline epileptic attacks involve a greater degree of alteration in consciousness.

Treatment of Epilepsy In Cats

If an underlying disease can be identified as the cause of the seizures, the best mode of treatment is to remove the problem. However, feline epilepsy can be idiopathic and this compels the veterinarian to opt for a generalized treatment regimen. In many cases neurological disorders may only be known after autopsy.

Anti-convulsants are the preferred mode of treatment for feline epilepsy. Generally anti-convulsants are prescribed for an initial period of a week or two. It is important to avoid abrupt discontinuation and medication should be tapered off gradually – if no epileptic seizures are observed during the period.

In such cases, the next episode may not occur for a long period of time. However, when and if it does, the next treatment needs to be re-determined. The veterinarian may advise continuous treatment with anti-convulsants – if the cat suffers from frequent and periodic attacks or if kitty’s seizures last for more than one minute at a time.

Phenobarbital is a long-acting barbiturate that is used as a sedative for epileptic cats. It remains the first preference of anti-convulsant treatment of feline seizures. Minor changes in dosage of Phenobarbital can bring about major changes in blood levels causing sedation or rendering the drug ineffective.

Cannabinoids For Cat Health

Cats that do not respond well to Phenobarbital are treated with Diazepam. Diazepam is a tranquilizer used to relieve the cat’s anxiety and to relax muscles.

Phenobarbital and Diazepam are generally considered to be safe drugs for treating cats with epilepsy. However, as with all conventional medication, there are side effects associated with anti-convulsants too. Common side effects include sedation, lack of coordination of movements and an increase in thirst and urination. Some other side effects that may appear in some cats include:

  • Allergic reactions like low platelet and white blood cell count
  • Temporary facial swelling
  • Disorders associated with blood clotting

Feline epilepsy can also be caused by meningo-encephalitis, inflammation of the brain and spinal cord and their meninges. It is extremely difficult to confirm the prevalence of such neurological disorders.

Cats suffering from seizure due to these reasons respond well to cortico-steroids if Phenobarbital proves ineffective. Article by Tess Thompson.

Consider using an awesome natural treatment for epilepsy – More Info Here

Below is a video of a cat having an feline epileptic seizure.

Please note some people might find this too upsetting to watch.


Changing A Cat’s Diet May Help

With many health issues in cats as well as in people, an improvement in the diet can sometimes work wonders. If your epileptic cat is NOT already eating a raw diet, please consider changing to one. You can read more about this here: Best Food For Cats


  1. mary-lou August 19, 2009
  2. Tonia r Morgan February 11, 2018

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