The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : Cat Seizures and Epilepsy 101

Friday, August 10, 2018

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.

To read more on this story, click here: Cat Seizures and Epilepsy 101

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