feline seizure disorders is well presented this month in a new TLC veterinary scholarship paper on our web site. Our work with the older cats has given us a personal perspective as well.
For our pet cat Gracie, seizures began when she was 12 years old in July 2002. We heard a banging noise and saw her paddling away in a puddle of urine on the floor. The episode lasted only seconds but it seemed like minutes and we had no clue as to what to do to help her. When the seizure ended we rushed her to the vet. They did a brief exam with blood work and sent us home. We learned an isolated seizure was not serious but if two or more seizures happen in a short time frame it’s a veterinary emergency. We should avoid handling her while she seizures (for safety reasons) but we should remove any potential hazards from her immediate area.
Gracie didn’t seizure again until the fall of 2003 when we heard another telltale banging noise. What we saw was Gracie lying on the floor paddling her 4 legs and writhing uncontrollably. These events became an all too common happening. Unfortunately she was often in precarious places when they occurred – once on top of a tall cat tree and once at the top of a flight of stairs. There were no obvious warning signs to alert us. Because of the frequency of her seizures, she was put on Phenobarbital and in July 2004 we had a MRI done. It showed a contrast-enhancing mass on the dorsal aspect of the brain that extended on either side of the midline. In addition it showed an extensive area of cerebral edema (fluid). Unlike the more common meningioma, her tumor was inoperable and so we continued her on Phenobarbital and later Keppra to control the seizures as best we could. And – to dry up the edema – we added prednisolone to her meds as well.
In addition to Gracie, we’ve had three other cats from our TLC Older Cat Program who also had seizures. Two (Sweetie and Tasha) had seizures in the end stage of kidney failure and Amber had infrequent seizures during the last two years of her life. She had many other health issues and we didn’t pursue the cause of her seizures but treated them with Keppra.
Seizures are a difficult behavior to encounter in your pet. The only good thing to be said for them is – based on accounts of people who have seizures – they aren’t painful and afterward the cat has no memory of ever having them!