Seizures in cats

Julia Dicconson
Content Manager
September 24, 2021

If your cat has been diagnosed with a seizure disorder, knowing more about the disease can help you provide them with a better quality of life.

Seizures in cats can be caused by trauma, toxins, metabolic disease, infections, or a brain tumor. Only 20% of seizures in cats are of unknown origin.

What are seizures?

A seizure is a sudden electrical disturbance in the brain. A focal seizure, which is more common in cats, affects only part of the brain and the cat remains conscious. 

A generalised seizure, on the other hand, means the entire brain is affected and includes loss of consciousness. Cats usually give behaviour signs before and after that differentiate a seizure from fainting or a dizzy spell.  

Signs of an impending seizure include:

  • Tail chasing or limb chewing
  • Repetitive motions in one part of the body

Focal seizure signs include:

  • Change in gait (walking and stability)
  • Stiffness on rising
  • Reluctance to use stairs, or jump
  • Irritability
  • Decreased appetite
  • Thickened joints
  • Difficulty using the litter box

Generalised seizure signs include: 

  • Falling over, with loss of consciousness
  • Stiffness of legs, or paddling 
  • Urination and defecation
  • Vomiting and salivation
  • Disorientation after the seizure

Falling over and instability are possible signs of a seizure in cats.

How are seizures managed in cats? 

Ideally, you should pursue diagnostics and specific treatments for underlying conditions that may be causing your cat to seizure. 

Anti-epileptic medications can be prescribed to reduce the severity and frequency, but may not eliminate the seizures entirely. Medication is lifelong, and regular diagnostic testing is needed to monitor your cat’s status and prognosis.  

What is the prognosis for cats experiencing seizures?

The prognosis varies based on the cause and your cat’s treatment response. Most cats will respond to anti-epileptic medication, but some may experience refractory seizures or adverse side effects and have a poorer prognosis. 

Management tips for a cat experiencing seizures

At-home needs include:

  • Consistency with medications, which can be compounded into tasty treats
  • Easy access to food, water, litter box and a safe location
  • Prescription diets and supplements that promote brain function
  • Caution with handling, and avoiding sudden movements or other stimuli
  • Keeping track of seizure length, time and day, and taking a video for your vet

For end-of-life care:

In a crisis:

Immediately contact your vet if your cat has a seizure lasting longer than two minutes, multiple seizures in one day, collapses and does not recover, or vocalises in pain.

It is vital to begin end-of-life care discussions before your cat’s condition becomes unmanageable, or they begin losing their quality of life. 

Don’t wait until the very end. It’s important to consider your pet’s end-of-life journey early, so that you, your family and your pet are all supported through the process.

When the time comes, we’re here for you. Goodbye Good Boy provides a range of end-of-life services to make the difficult process of saying goodbye a little easier. 

We offer quality of life assessments from qualified vets, specialist grief counselling, at home euthanasia from dedicated end of life veterinarians, as well as cremation services and memorial options to help remember your pet for their unique character.

We are with you at every step of the journey.

To find out more, you can call our team of passionate pet lovers on 1800 953 619.

This article was reproduced with permission from Goodbye Good Boy advisor Dr Dani McVety, of Lap Of Love.