Seizures in cats are caused by an area within a part of the brain, the cerebral cortex, that functions abnormally. The abnormal function may be the result of disease within the brain itself or it may be caused by the effects of a disease that originates outside of the brain.
Types of Feline Seizures
Seizures in cats may be generalized or focal.
- In generalized seizures, the entire cerebral cortex is involved in causing the seizure. Generalized seizures can occur from metabolic diseases or from poisonings. They also occur in idiopathic epilepsy (recurrent seizures for which the cause is unknown).
- In focal seizures, a smaller localized area within the cerebral cortex causes the seizure to occur. Focal seizures may occur because of congenital abnormalities within the brain. They can also occur due to brain tumors and infections as well as other diseases that can disrupt the structure of the brain. Focal seizures are also sometimes referred to as partial seizures.
What Do Seizures Look Like in a Cat
In cats, seizures are often focal in origin though generalized seizures can be seen as well. This is somewhat different in dogs where the majority of seizures are generalized.
Focal seizures in the cat produce symptoms that are different from generalized feline seizures.
During a focal seizure, your cat may:
- Cry loudly as though he is in pain.
- Behave in an aggressive fashion, even if he is not normally an aggressive cat.
- Salivate or drool excessively.
- Other atypical behaviors may occur as well.
A generalized seizure will cause your cat to lose consciousness.
- He will probably fall on his side and may have muscles that twitch repeatedly. Some cats will jerk violently while they are having a seizure.
- The legs may move in a paddling fashion, as though your cat is trying to swim, or they may become rigid instead.
- The mouth may open and close involuntarily.
- Your cat may urinate or defecate on himself.
It is possible for focal seizures to develop into generalized seizures also.
Cats often have seizures that occur more frequently than those in dogs. However, treatment is often successful even for seizures that do occur frequently.
The success of the treatment is usually somewhat dependent on the cause of the seizure though. Any animal that has a seizure should be seen and examined by a veterinarian to determine the cause of the seizure.