Seizures in Old Cats

by Elle Di Jensen, Demand Media
    Seizures in older cats are usually caused by an underlying condition.

    Seizures in older cats are usually caused by an underlying condition.

    Although dogs are the pets most likely to have seizures, older cats have an increased tendency to them. If your aging kitty suddenly has a seizure after a lifetime of good health, take him to the vet immediately. Most seizures are caused by an underlying condition that should be addressed.

    Seizure Behavior

    Seizure symptoms can vary depending on the cat and the severity of the seizure itself. With a mild seizure, your kitty might "space out," staring off with a blank look in her eyes, or she might simply fall over.
    With more severe seizures, the behavior can include mild to violent twitching, paddling the legs and running around blindly. A cat having a seizure will often foam at the mouth, tongue out, and will have uncontrolled, erratic eye movement. If your kitty starts seizing, be prepared for her to also lose control of her bladder and her bowels.

    Causes

    Although some cats are predisposed to having seizures, those typically show up much earlier in life, by age 2. If your senior cat doesn't have a history of seizures but begins having them all of a sudden, it's most likely a secondary condition brought on by an age-related primary condition.
    In her book on caring for aging cats, Janice Borzendowski lists low blood sugar, trauma or infection, hyperthyroidism, poisoning or possibly brain tumors as causes of seizures in older cats. Diabetes and liver problems are also known to cause feline seizures.

    Treatment

    Your vet will need to perform testing, such as blood tests and possible brain scans, on your kitty to determine the underlying cause of her seizures. Treating the primary condition is the proper way to deal with seizures in cats, says PetPlace.com.
    If a cause can't be determined, the condition is considered idiopathic, but it still can be treated with anti-seizure medications such as phenobarbital. Depending on the cause of your kitty's condition, she might have to be on medication permanently.

    Dealing With A Seizing Cat

    It's heartrending and difficult to watch your cat have a seizure. There are things you can do for her while she is experiencing a seizure and to help her afterward, VetInfo advises. During the episode, don't attempt to move your cat, but do move furniture and other objects away from her. Other pets in the home should be kept away from your kitty while she is seizing.
    Your cat's head and tongue might jerk about involuntarily, but you shouldn't try to "help" by placing an object in her mouth, such as a spoon, as you could be injured. As the seizure is subsiding and once it is over, speak to your kitty in a calm, relaxed tone. She will be disoriented and need reassurance.
    Keep your vet apprised of the frequency and severity of your older cat's seizures; he will ask you to bring her in for medical attention if he thinks it's necessary. This will also make the doctor aware of any changes in her health, and he can adjust her medication accordingly.

    About the Author

    Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.

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