What is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is brain disorder characterized by seizures due to electrical misfiring by neurons in the brain. This neurological condition is also referred to as a convulsion or a fit. The neuron dysfunction, cause a cat to lose body control and even consciousness.
How does my cat get Epilepsy?
The cause is divided into two categories: extra cranial causes (those that originate outside the skull) and intracranial causes (those that originate inside the brain). Some causes of feline epilepsy are unknown. Others are genetic based or caused bystrokes, brain tumors, brain infections or trauma induced. They may be triggered as a secondary condition to primary diseases facing a cat, such as toxoplasmosis, hypertension and feline infectious peritonitis (FIP).
How do I know if my cat has Epilepsy?
The onset of seizure activity is usually between ages 6 months and five years. Seizure activity is most common during early morning hours or at night when the cat is napping or sleeping. Owners are the ones most likely to witness the seizures, so veterinarians need specific details provided by the owner to make an accurate diagnosis. When a seizure strikes, most cats experience these three phases: the preitctal phase (known as an aura in which the cat becomes restless or nervous or clingy), the ictal phase (when the actual seizure occurs, causing muscles to contract, the body to shake and loss of bladder and bowel control) and the postictal phase (when a cat may salivate, pace, be restless and even, temporarily blind). Seizures can last minutes or hours and be infrequent or progress in frequency over time. A veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam, ask if the cat may have been exposed to poisons (such as household cleaning products or pesticides) or suffered a head injury. Then diagnostic tests, including blood work, tests for infectious diseases, a spinal tap, CT scan and brain imaging may be performed.
What can I do about Epilepsy?
Once diagnosed, epilepsy may be treated with a variety of different medications used to decrease the frequency and severity of the seizures and prevent them all together. The most common drug prescribed is Phenobarbital (an anti-convulsant drug), although new drugs that are more effective with fewer side effects used in humans are being considered for use in cats. Medications control, but do not cure feline epilepsy. During a seizure, do not panic or attempt to restrain your unconscious cat because you risk getting bit. Instead, make sure that your cat does not fall or injure himself by moving furniture out of the away and keeping him away from stairs. If the seizure persists and definitely if it lasts more than five minutes, call your veterinarian. Keep a log of the number of seizures and their durations.
Is there anything I can do to prevent my cat from getting Epilepsy?
Other than careful breed selection, there is nothing you can do to prevent a cat from getting epilepsy.
Are there certain breeds that get Epilepsy more often?
This condition can strike any cat of any breed or mixed breed, but some studies have identified two of the more popular breeds, Persians and Siamese, to experience epileptic seizures.