Cat Seizures and Epilepsy 101


The term "seizure" is often used interchangeably with "convulsion" or “fit,” but what do all of these terms really mean is happening? A seizure starts as a result of abnormal, excessive electrical activity in the brain. According to Chelsea Sonius, of the Zimmer Feline Foundation, whether in humans or animals, all seizures:

  • Start as a result of these electrical misfires in a part of the brain called the cerebrum.
  • The abnormal electrical impulse spreads from cell to cell.
  • This unregulated activity in one region of the cerebrum causes increased activity in other regions, a phenomenon termed "hypersynchronous activity."
  • The brain becomes uncontrollably "hyper excitable," which leads to seizures. Convulsions can then cause a cat’s body to shake rapidly and uncontrollably.

How can one cat seizure differ from another?
Epilepsy.com says, “Seizures may take many forms.” The outward effect can vary from uncontrolled, violent, jerking movements (tonic-clonic seizure) to a subtle loss of momentary awareness (absence seizure), which may go unnoticed by others. The syndrome of recurrent, unprovoked seizures is termed epilepsy. Seizures can be brought on by either primary brain disorders, or they may develop as a result of a process outside the brain. Conditions like low blood sugar, liver failure (when it leads to “hepatic encephalopathy”) or conditions that make blood thicker (as happens with high red blood cell or protein levels), are examples of processes outside the brain that may cause seizures. In addition, certain cardiac events look a lot like seizures, but don’t predictably alter the brain’s electrical activity in the same way. Temporary loss of consciousness (syncope) or collapse, associated with some heart rhythm disturbances, can be very hard to distinguish from seizures in some cases.

How common is a cat seizure?
Seizures occur in both dogs and cats, but occur less commonly in cats. Zimmer.com estimates that approximately 2% of all cats are affected by some seizure disorder.

What are the underlying causes of a cat seizure?
Seizures occur at all ages and in all breeds; however, older cats are more likely to be affected by a variety of underlying causes:

  • Tumors
  • Trauma
  • Infections

There is little evidence that seizures in cats have a hereditary component. Most cats with seizures will have some structural change in the brain contributing to the seizure disorder. Unfortunately, recent studies show that from 22% to 41% of cats had epilepsy of unknown cause; the neurologic work found no structural or blood-borne cause1,2,3.

What are the signs of a cat seizure?
Seizure activity in cats is often very violent, but can be quite variable. Common signs of seizures in cats can include:

  • Sudden bursts of activity
  • Aggression
  • Drooling (hypersalivation)
  • Facial twitching
  • Loss of consciousness and uncontrolled muscle activity (tremors, twitching, and convulsions)
  • Spinal fluid analysis
  • Advanced imaging , such as MRI or CT
  • Electrodiagnostics (EEG) – limited to neurology specialists

How will a cat seizure be treated?
It is not uncommon for people and animals to have an isolated seizure at some time in their lives. There may or may not be subsequent seizures. A single seizure does not generally warrant treatment. Even with acceptable medical control, some individuals will have periodic seizure reoccurrences. Seizures themselves are generally not dangerous, unless they last a long time or are very severe, so an individual seizure may not warrant use of medication. Veterinarians try to balance the risk of treatment with an anticonvulsant against the consequences of not treating the seizure. If the seizures come frequently or are particularly distressing to you, or disruptive to the cat, discuss it with your veterinarian.

If testing reveals a primary or underlying disorder, options for treating that condition need to be considered. When necessary, medical treatment for seizure control involves trying to suppress the electrical impulse that would lead to a seizure. When giving anti-seizure medications to your cat, it is extremely important to work with your veterinarian to determine the correct dosage for your cat and to monitor for adverse side effects.

If your cat is having any event like a convulsion or fit that lasts more than 2-3 minutes, or is having repeated events, back to back in a 24 hour period, without a return to normal, (cluster seizures), you should seek emergency medical attention because these can be life threatening.

What is the prognosis of a cat seizure disorder?
The prognosis of seizure disorders is dependent on three factors:

  • The frequency of seizures
  • Your cat’s response to treatment
  • The presence of an underlying cause

At best, the prognosis with treatment is uncertain because even in seemingly well controlled individuals, it is not uncommon to have a breakout seizure. It’s possible the prognosis will be unfavorable. Organic diseases like brain tumors and metabolic diseases may be progressive and seizures may be increasingly common or severe.

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian -- they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

Resources:

  1. Joane Parent DMV, MVetSc, DACVIM (Neurology). Feline Epilepsy: Recognition, Evaluation and Treatment. ACVIM 2014. St-Hyacinthe, QC, Canada.
  2. Wahle AM, et al. J Vet Intern Med. 2014;28:182.
  3. Barnes HL, et al. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2004;225:1723–1726.

CBD for Cats With Seizures

Does your cat suffer from seizures?

If so, I’m sure you’re desperate to find a reliable, safe medication to help relieve her symptoms.

CBD promises to help drive down seizures in humans, but does this stuff work for cats and other animals?

In this post, I’ll show you exactly how CBD works to reduce seizures in cats and even recommend a few CBD products designed specifically for felines.

Our Pick:

If your cat has seizures, we believe that HolistaPet has the best products to help. They have treats, capsules and oils.

What Causes Seizures in Cats?

Seizures in cats can be caused by many different things.

Some cats may experience regular seizures as part of a congenital condition like epilepsy (which I’ll explore in more detail below).

However, feline epilepsy isn’t very common, and chances are your cat experiences seizures as a result of some other cause, including:

  • Low/high blood sugar levels.
  • Low levels of oxygen in the blood. Anemia, heart conditions, or diseases affecting your cat’s breathing may cause a sudden drop in blood oxygen levels.
  • Trauma.
  • Brain tumors or brain damage.
  • Toxins like permethrin (found in flea products), bromethalin (found in rodenticides), or even certain medications (mirtazapine, ibuprofen, diphenhydramine, or some antibiotics).
  • Extreme infections, fevers, or hyperthermia
  • Disorders of the kidneys and/or liver.

What Causes Epilepsy in Cats?

Epilepsy is a brain condition that you may already be familiar with, seeing as it affects humans, dogs, and other animals.

The effects of epilepsy on cats are pretty similar to its effects on humans.

The main symptom of epilepsy is regular seizures that can cause a variety of pronounced physical symptoms, including shaking, chomping of the jaw, salivating, urinating, and more.

These seizures are caused by a misfiring of the neurons in the brain which are responsible for sending information around the body.

When these neurons start firing off signals in an abnormal fashion, a seizure occurs.

Unfortunately, the root cause of epilepsy in cats isn’t clear.

Epilepsy starts to present itself in cats aged 1-4 months.

It can affect cats of any breed and is a chronic condition with no cure.

There is evidence to suggest that it’s a genetic condition, but it isn't enough to suggest that genetics is the sole cause of epilepsy.

What Does a Cat Seizure Look Like?

Feline seizures are pretty shocking.

They are typically broken down into 3 stages:

  • The “Aura.” This is the period just before a seizure takes place. You might find your cat meowing, seeking out attention, pacing around or acting restless. The aura tends to last only a few minutes.
  • The “Ictus” or Seizure. Some of the most common symptoms of a cat seizure include sudden collapse, uncontrolled muscle spasms, stiffness, “paddling” of the legs, salivating, vomiting, urinating, or defecating. Most feline seizures last for only a few minutes.
  • The “Post-Ictal” Phase. This is the period after the seizure in which your cat might seem disoriented and uncoordinated or even temporarily blind. The post-ictal phase can last anywhere from a few minutes to multiple days.

Keep in mind that the actual symptoms of a seizure can vary.

The symptoms I listed above are just some of the most common, but the exact symptoms will vary depending on the kind of seizure your cat is experiencing.

There are 2 main types of seizures:

  • Partial seizures, which tend to affect only one side of the body.
  • Generalized seizures that affect the whole body.

There are 2 types of generalized seizures:

  • Grand Mal Seizures: These seizures usually cause your cat to fall on its side and suffer from uncontrollable muscle spasms. It's common for cats with grand mal seizures to salivate profusely and urinate/defecate involuntarily.
  • Petit Mal Seizures: These seizures are less common, and will cause a cat to temporarily lose consciousness. They may collapse, or simply stare out into the distance and seem “spaced out.”

In extreme cases, cats may experience “status epilepticus.”

This is when the cat suffers from multiple, repeated grand mal seizures.

Status epilepticus can last for hours and lead to death.

You should seek immediate medical attention if you notice your cat suffering from multiple seizures lasting more than just a few minutes.

How Can CBD Help With Epilepsy?

Given the amount of media attention CBD has attracted over the years, you may already be familiar with its anticonvulsant properties.

You might even remember the news report that shocked the world with the story of Charlotte Figi.

Charlotte suffers from a rare form of epilepsy which left her experiencing hundreds of severe grand mal seizures per week.

After years of ineffective treatment using a cocktail of different pharmaceutical drugs, Charlotte’s parents discovered the power of CBD.

Within just weeks of treatment using a CBD-rich tincture now sold as Charlotte’s Web, Charlotte experienced a huge decline in the severity and regularity of her seizures.

From there, CBD really started to take off.

More and more stories like Charlotte’s started to make their way into the news, and a multitude of studies started taking a closer look at CBD and its anticonvulsant properties.

Today, a multitude of studies exist on the topic.

The majority of these studies show that CBD is able to drive down the number of seizures in epileptic patients, as well as the severity of the seizures they’re experiencing.

In 2017, for example, The New England Journal of Medicine published a study examining the effects of CBD on seizures caused by Dravet Syndrome.

The study featured a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial including 120 children and young adults with Dravet Syndrome.

Half of the patients received a placebo drug, while the others received a daily dose of oral CBD solution at a dose of 20mg per kilogram of body weight.

All the patients continued receiving their standard antiepileptic medications.

The treatment lasted 14 weeks, and the researchers’ primary focus was the effect that CBD had on the frequency of seizures.

The group of patients receiving CBD experienced a median drop in the number of monthly seizures from 12.4 to 5.9.

Meanwhile, the median monthly seizure rate for the placebo group went from 14.9 to 14.1.

Another commonly-cited study comes from the highly-renowned medical journal The Lancet.

Published in 2016, the study tracked 210 epileptic patients across 11 different epilepsy centers across the US and their response to CBD.

The patients received CBD at daily doses starting between 2-5mg per kilogram of body weight.

The doses were then upped until the medication became intolerable or reached a maximum of either 25 or 50mg per kilogram of body weight.

The study showed that CBD reduced seizures by around 36%.

2% of patients also became completely seizure-free using CBD.

These are just 2 popular studies exploring the effects of CBD on epilepsy.

For a more comprehensive look at these studies and others, check out ProjectCBD.

Does This Mean CBD Can Help My Cat?

On my blog so far, I’ve written a lot about the benefits of CBD for dogs with seizures.

These benefits are exactly the same for cats.

I know that might seem strange, seeing as dogs, cats, and humans don’t really seem similar (at least not in a physiological sense).

But one thing that we do have in common is our Endocannabinoid System.

This system is made up of the main receptors that are triggered by CBD when it enters the body (namely CB1 and CB2, although there are others).

Exactly how the Endocannabinoid System and CBD help to stop seizures isn’t completely clear.

However, studies have shown that Endocannabinoid System is involved in regulating neurological activity in the brain and body.

It does so by blocking the activity of specific neuronal channels.

This suggests that CBD can help restore order to the disrupted electric activity in the brain that causes a seizure.

While I haven’t personally used CBD to treat epilepsy in cats, I have used it to help my dog Rosie, who was diagnosed with hip dysplasia and cancer.

Once I witnessed the positive effects CBD had on my Rosie, I began to research CBD in more detail and create this website.

In my research, I learned that CBD has many positive health benefits, and huge potential as an anticonvulsant.

Are Other Pets Using CBD to Treat Epilepsy?

There are many pet owners who have seen success with CBD on cats and dogs who struggle with seizures and epilepsy.

The Canna-Pet website, for example, is full of positive reviews of cat owners using CBD to treat epilepsy, seizures, and many other conditions.

P.J, for example, is an 18-year-old cat who struggles with kidney disease.

Screenshot taken from Canna-Pet.com

As his kidney problems progressed, P.J started experiencing seizures.

His owners almost immediately started him on an anti-seizure medication prescribed by their vet.

The medication didn’t work and P.J’s seizures only started getting more severe and frequent.

P.J’s owners decided to try CBD and saw immediate improvements. Within a month, P.J’s seizures became less frequent and less intense. He has also become more affectionate and relaxed thanks to the medication.

And as I mentioned above, cats respond the same way to CBD as dogs do, and humans to a certain extent. I highlighted the story about Charlotte's success with CBD and her seizures above, so here are a few other pet reviews from dog owners:

Next we have a testimonial from Barry.

Screenshot taken from HolistaPet.com

Barry explains that his dog was experiencing up to 3 seizures per day.

His vet finally recommended CBD and Barry began his research. He started using CBD and instantly saw results.

He reports that not only are his dog's seizures happening much less often, they are also way less severe.

This is a very common outcome. CBD might not cure seizures completely, however many pet owners report that it greatly reduces the frequency and severity of them.

Screenshot taken from Canna-Pet.com

Rex's story is a great one.

After using CBD for almost 3 months, Rex's owners are happy to report that he is completely seizure free!

They have also noticed that Rex seems to be in much less pain, which is not a surprise as CBD is a very powerful anti inflammatory.

Although Rex's story might seem like a miracle, there are many other pet owners who have reported that CBD has totally eliminated their dog or cat's seizures. This is not a guarantee, but it can happen.

Which CBD Product is Best for Cats Suffering From Seizures?

If you’ve already shopped around for CBD pet products, you’ve likely asked yourself this question:

How do I know which product is best for my pet?

Today I’m going to help you answer that question.

I have plenty of experience with CBD pet supplements, and recommend 2 main brands for cat owners in particular.

First and foremost, I highly recommend HolistaPet for its line of products tailored specifically for cats.

For seizures, in particular, I’d recommend using a high-strength product, like HolistaPet’s CBD Pet Tincture.

For serious health conditions like epilepsy and seizures, I find products with higher concentrations of CBD produce the best results.

Alternatively, I also recommend HolistaPet’s CBD Cat Treats.

Cats really love the natural salmon flavor and crunchy texture of the treats, making them super easy to administer.

Plus, seeing that each treat contains exactly 2 grams of CBD, they are very easy to dose, too.

My second recommendation for CBD cat products is Canna-Pet.

I used this brand with my dog and was super impressed with the results.

Currently, Canna-Pet offers CBD capsules for cats, which are best opened and mixed into your pet’s food.

Keep in mind that these capsules will take longer to take effect, and therefore aren’t ideal for treating acute seizures.

Instead, they can be used as a regular supplement to drive down symptoms over time.

For more information about either of these 2 brands, make sure to check out my CBD for cats main page.

Hey I'm Blake, the founder of this website. Our family was fortunately to have discovered CBD products after our dog Rosie was diagnosed with a few common ailments. I truly believe they enhanced her last few years, and it's my passion to spread the word through this website. Thanks for visiting!


Feline Seizures and Epilepsy

The intent of this page is to provide information for people whose cats have had seizures. Seizures are a serious problem, and a cat that has had a seizure should be taken to a veterinarian for proper diagnosis. A proper diagnosis may be expensive and may take some time, but there is usually an underlying cause that can be eliminated or appropriate treatment that can be prescribed.

The information in this page is not meant to substitute for a veterinarian's advice, but to aid those who are trying to learn more about their cat's illness and to encourage owners of cats that have had seizures to have their cat's illness diagnosed as quickly as possible. More clinical information is available through the references at the bottom of this article.

Note that this page is maintained at infrequent intervals. There are a number of URLs at the bottom of the page that may offer more helpful advice, including internet support groups. I welcome email suggesting updates to the page, but it may be some time before they are acted on.


Sounds That Commonly Trigger FARS

The researchers found that the following sounds were most commonly identified as triggers for seizure activity in cats with FARS:

  • Crumpling aluminum foil.
  • A metal spoon clinking against a ceramic food bowl.
  • Clinking glass.
  • Paper or plastic bags being crumpled.
  • Computer key or mouse clicking.
  • Coins or keys clinking together.
  • A nail being hammered.
  • An owner's tongue clicking.

Watch the video: Epilepsy in a Cat


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