Felines can surely sense a change in energy before seizures occur. Your kitty adores you and surely wants you to get out of harm’s way before an episode occurs. Kitties are stubborn, though; not every furball will alert you -- or a loved one -- before an episode.
Each cat responds differently before an impending seizure activity, although one thing is for sure: You’ll notice her acting a bit peculiar. Aria may circle around in front of you a few minutes before the seizure happens. She could even climb right up on your chest, stick her nose in your face and purr or howl loudly, getting you to focus directly on her while you get through it.
Some cats go one step further, alerting a family member that a seizure is going to happen. Aria may paw at your significant other’s leg or wake him up if she feels something is awry with you. This way, other people in your home are alerted to get you in a safe place, away from any sharp edges of furniture or stairs. If you’re on medication, a cat who alerts can give your loved one notification early enough to get you your medication to your beforehand, possibly preventing the seizure altogether.
Aria may have a natural knack for recognizing impending seizures, but it doesn't mean she'll necessarily alert. It's possible a cat can be trained, but a cat is less likely to respond to training than a dog. If you want to encourage Aria’s reaction to seizures, making her a stronger service animal, you’ll want to hire a professional trainer to work with her. Feline seizure-alert specialists aren’t as common as their canine counterparts, reports the animal-care website Vetstreet.
Cats as Service Animals
In 2011, the Americans with Disabilities Act defined a service animal as “a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability.” Guidelines state that other types of critters do not qualify as service animals. Even though you might be able to work with Aria a bit and teach her how to alert a loved one when seizures are imminent, she isn’t protected under the Act. Places of business, including your workplace, might not be willing to let her sit by your side, no matter how well-behaved she is. Each state has its own regulations, so check with your local government to see if service cats are protected in your area.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.