August 2019

Audience: Executive Leadership, Foster Caregivers, Public, Shelter/Rescue Staff & Volunteers, Veterinary Team

Most seizures last one to two minutes and resolve on their own. If your cat has a seizure for more than two minutes, and/or if there is more than one seizure observed, your cat needs emergency veterinary care.

Signs of Seizures

  • Jerking of the limbs and body
  • Muscle twitching
  • Accidental pooping and peeing during the episode
  • Disorientation (e.g. does not seem responsive to you, seems confused)
  • Inability to stand
  • Profuse drooling

What You Can Do if Your Cat Has a Seizure

  • Check your watch, to record how long the seizure lasts.
  • Keep your cat from hitting his/her head on anything hard like furniture or walls. Carefully move your cat away from those things, and/or provide a barrier with pillows or bedding.
  • Keep your cat away from stairs and from high areas that he/she could fall from.
  • Record additional information about the seizures (whether there was jerking of the limbs or muscle twitching of body parts, whether your cat pooped or peed during the episode, etc.). A video of the seizure may also be useful.
  • Check your household for any evidence that your cat ingested something toxic. Have any plants been chewed on? Did the cat get into any chemicals or medications?
  • If you have just applied a topical flea product that contains pyrethrins or permethrins, and your cat is no longer actively having a seizure, immediately bathe your cat to remove as much of the product as possible to prevent further absorption.
  • If your cat is a kitten, rub his/her gums with a cotton swab soaked with Karo syrup or maple syrup.

Common Causes of Seizures

  • Ingestion of toxic substances (e.g. poisonous plants, medications, chemicals)
  • Reaction to a topical flea product that contains pyrethrins or permethrins
  • Idiopathic epilepsy (no medical reason found for the seizures)
  • Low blood sugar (common in kittens, but rare in adult cats)
  • Brain tumors

Treatment of Seizures

  • A cat actively having a seizure is usually given an anti-seizure medication intravenously to stop the seizure.
  • If the seizures were from a poisonous substance, your cat will likely be treated with intravenous fluid therapy, and may be given activated charcoal by mouth to prevent further absorption of the poisonous substance.
  • If the seizures were from application of a topical flea product that contains pyrethrins or permethrins, your cat will be bathed to prevent further absorption of the product. Your cat will likely be started on intravenous fluid therapy.
  • If the seizures have happened more than once, and no medical reason for the seizures is found, then your cat will likely be started on oral anti-seizure medication to prevent further seizures.

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