Anticonvulsant Therapies for Cat Seizures

Pet seizures are fairly uncommon, but cat seizures may still be a concern for pet owners. Even though cat brains aren't especially prone to cat epilepsy, seizures can still occur and result in a cat strike which may be fatal. Therefore, it is important to understand the underlying causes and types of cats epilepsy, as well as the standard medications and treatment options.

Primary Epilepsy and Secondary Epilepsy

A primary epilepsy is one that is directly related to a cat brain disorder. In this case, the cat will experience recurring seizures without displaying other symptoms. Therefore, primary epilepsy in cats can be difficult to diagnose.

A secondary epilepsy is one that occurs separately from a primary brain disease. Cats suffering from chemical imbalances, cancer, inflammation of the brain, rabies or other afflictions may experience seizures that coincide with other symptoms.

In either case, take your cat to a veterinarian or animal hospital immediately upon the onset of an epileptic episode. In order to determine the cause of your cat's epilepsy, the veterinarian will conduct a thorough physical exam, a test for head trauma, a neurological or retinal exam as well as a blood test. An MRI or CAT scan may also be necessary to pinpoint the source of the disorder. If your cat has suffered a seizure, take him in for examination as quickly as possible. Although most seizures do not present immediate harm to the cat, seizures that continue for more than a few minutes may indicate a serious and potentially fatal form of epilepsy called status epilepticus.

Treatment Options for Cat Strokes

Cat epilepsy is treated primarily with phenobarbital, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Phenobarbital is an effective treatment for seizures, although it may not adequately address the underlying cause of your cat's epilepsy. In most cases, phenobarbital has been used without negative side effects. However, some cats experience excessive lethargy, unusual thirst, problems of blood clotting, and allergic reactions.

In these cases, diazepam is another popular choice as an anticonvulsant treatment option. Diazepam is effective for around 75% of cats and has the same potential adverse effects, including increased appetite and, very rarely, liver damage.

Both of these drugs are available only with a vet's prescription, and only after a thorough examination of your cat. For cats experiencing seizures infrequently, one to two weeks of anticonvulsant medication may be adequate. A continuous program of medication will be required only if your cat has frequent or serious seizures. If your vet prescribes an anticonvulsant drug for your cat, follow the dosage instructions carefully. Missing a dose or discontinuing the medication too quickly may result in additional seizures or other complications.

A carefully structured and properly administered program of anticonvulsant therapy can be highly effective in reducing the frequency and seriousness of feline seizures, and can help your cat enjoy a higher quality of life. If your cat is prone to seizures, proper medication can prevent strokes and save your cat's life.