can a cat die from a seizure

Fortunately, most cats recover quite well after a seizure. In some rare and tragic cases, cats can die during a seizure. This is usually due to injuries that happen during the incident. Frequent, repeated seizures can put your cat at greater risk for getting hurt and possibly cause damage to the brain.

What Causes Seizures in Cats?

There are multiple causes of seizures in cats.

Grand mal seizures are the most common type; they usually only happen once and are brought on by ingesting toxins, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), loud noises, or bright lights.

Ethylene glycol (antifreeze), rodenticide (rat poison—particularly neurotoxic kinds), and medication overdoses (such as those containing antihistamines or specific behavior-modification drugs) are among the toxins that can cause seizures in cats.

Because methrin toxicity can cause severe muscle twitches, it is frequently mistaken for seizures. The most common cause of this toxicity is improper application of flea/tick preventative—either using too much of a dose or applying dog flea/tick medication on a cat. Because permethrins are not toxic to dogs at appropriate levels, they are frequently used in dog preventative products. However, even small amounts of permethrins can be fatal to cats. The majority of cats with this toxicity will react to muscle relaxants and sedatives but not to anti-convulsant medications.

Kittens that are malnourished, have a lot of internal parasites, are not eating well, are not fed enough calories, or exhibit poor eating habits are frequently observed to have hypoglycemia. When a cat of any age receives too much insulin therapy, hypoglycemia can also occur. If your cat has recently been diagnosed with diabetes mellitus, ask your veterinarian about insulin therapy and low blood sugar levels.

Treatments for Cats With Seizures

The course of treatment for feline seizures varies greatly based on the underlying cause. To stop further seizure activity, underlying medical conditions like kidney disease, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, liver disease, and cancers must be treated.

Often, no therapy is recommended after first-time seizures. In most cases, your veterinarian will advise careful observation to determine whether another seizure happens. If it does, they’ll want to know how soon after the initial seizure it happens.

Regardless of the underlying cause, anti-convulsant drugs like phenobarbital, potassium bromide, levetiracetam (Keppra), or zonisamide are used for frequent seizure activity. The mainstay treatments for epilepsy are these drugs, which can be used singly or in combination depending on how each cat reacts.

Anti-convulsant medication is frequently administered for life and requires close monitoring with blood tests to ensure optimal blood levels. At certain dosages, some of the drugs, especially phenobarbital, can be toxic.

When a cat has hypoglycemia, has consumed toxins, or has a serious systemic illness (like kidney failure), they frequently need to be hospitalized, receive intravenous fluid therapy, occasionally take supplements of sugar (dextrose), and receive targeted therapies for associated conditions. Fortunately, hospitalized kittens experiencing hypoglycemic seizure episodes frequently make a full recovery with sugar supplementation, proper parasitic control, and calorie intake.

Types of Cat Seizures

When most people think of seizures, they most likely imagine complete disorientation, foaming at the mouth, and unconsciousness. Cats frequently experience this, but seizures can also present with a variety of symptoms, not all of which are evident or severe. In order of prevalence, the following seizure types can occur in cats:

Focal Seizures/Partial Motor Seizures: These seizures are the most prevalent in cats and only impact a specific area of the brain, which can cause localized effects on the body depending on the affected area. Usually, the cat doesn’t lose consciousness, but it might appear confused. Pet parents may not notice the mild symptoms of these seizures, which typically include twitching of the mouth, eyes, and whiskers, as well as subtle ear flicking.

Grand mal seizures, also known as generalized seizures, result in convulsions or tonic-clonic movements and cause a complete loss of consciousness. Since a greater area of the brain is frequently affected, the entire body is impacted. Muscles in the body will move involuntarily and often drastically. Due to a loss of normal bodily function, cats frequently clench their mouth, drool, urinate, or defecate during seizures.

Psychomotor/Complex Partial Seizures: These kinds of seizures result in odd, involuntary actions such as growling, biting at the skin or tail violently, making loud noises, or sporadic bursts of racing. These resemble focal or partial motor seizures, and because they do not impair consciousness, they are occasionally even classified as a distinct kind of these seizures. A “fly-biting” seizure, as the name suggests, is a well-known type of psychomotor seizure in which a cat suddenly begins chomping on air as though attempting to catch flies.

Seizures’ frequency, kind, and starting age are all regarded as patterns. The kind of seizure pattern can be used to determine the best course of action for diagnosis and treatment.

Depending on the type and pattern of seizures, symptoms can differ significantly.

In grand mal seizures, there are often three distinct phases:

Pre-ictal: This stage begins up to several hours prior to the onset of a seizure. A shift in behavior, which can include abrupt sluggishness, dullness, or hyperactivity, is frequently noticed by pet parents. During this stage, some cats will hide, while others will look to their family for attention. There is a “aura” at this point that precedes unconsciousness and may include confusion, drowsiness, and brain fog.

Ictal (during the seizure): The cat loses consciousness and the brain loses control over bodily functions. Typically, the cat will experience bowel and bladder control loss, full-body convulsions, and sporadic gum-chewing fits accompanied by drooling or foaming at the mouth. This stage typically lasts between 30 and 60 seconds, though some cats may experience it for longer.

Post-ictal: The period of time following a seizure in which convulsions cease It may take the cat several hours to 48 hours to fully recover consciousness and bodily functions. Pet owners may observe drowsiness, dullness, hunger, thirst, vomiting, and frequently, attention-seeking behavior in their animals.

FAQ

Can seizures in cats cause death?

While it hasn’t been studied extensively, a single seizure doesn’t commonly kill cats. It’s usually related to an underlying cause or condition—for instance, toxic poisoning. In rare cases, prolonged or continuous seizure activity that lasts for more than five minutes may be associated with a poorer prognosis.

How long can a cat live with seizures?

In this study, 68% of cats with EUC survived for a mean follow-up time period of 3.2 years (range 1 to 11 years), and seizures were successfully controlled in 71% of the cats.

Are seizures painful for cats?

Cat seizures can look dramatic, but the animal is typically not in pain. Seizures can last anywhere from seconds to a few minutes, and it may take your cat time to regroup afterward. Treatment will be based on any underlying health conditions your cat has and if seizures happen frequently.

How many seizures is too many for a cat?

It is important that any cat having regular seizures (more than one every six to eight weeks) receives treatment, even if the cause is not understood. This is because each seizure can lead to further brain damage and increase the likelihood of more severe seizures and complications.