Cat Epilepsy Symptoms

Epilepsy symptoms in cats usually begin when the cat is two or three years old. Epilepsy is a chronic illness in cats. It can't be cured, and vets aren't even sure what causes it, but medication can control your cat's epilepsy symptoms. Here's what you should know about feline epilepsy and its symptoms.

Types of Feline Epileptic Seizures

Cats with epilepsy may experience one of three types of seizures, which are named for their levels of intensity. Epileptic seizures are labeled petit mal, grand mal and status epilepticus. Grand mal and petit mal seizures are short in duration and don't usually present a threat to your cat's life, unless your cat is in an uncontrolled or unsafe environment. 

Petit mal epileptic seizures are the least intense kind of epileptic seizure. If your cat experiences a petit mal seizure, he may stare blankly, make noises or shake one of his legs. This type of seizure typically lasts less than a minute.

Grand mal seizures are more common and more intense than petit mal seizures. If your cat experiences a grand mal seizure, he may fall over, soil himself, paddle his feet as if running or swimming, drool or foam at the mouth and vocalize. He'll become unconscious, and will have no awareness of his surroundings or of what is happening to him. Grand mal seizures last five minutes or less.

If your cat experiences status epilepticus, then he's in real danger. Status epilepticus occurs when your cat's seizure lasts for longer than five minutes. Status epilepticus can go on for hours, and cause organ damage and death. Status epilepticus may appear to occur as one longer seizure, or as a series of grand mal seizures that strike your cat one after another.

If your cat's epileptic seizure lasts longer than five minutes, seek emergency veterinary care. 

Coping with Epileptic Seizures in Cats

If your cat has an epileptic seizure, stay calm. Record the date, time and length of the seizure so you can tell your vet. Record any body or eye movements that occur during the seizure, and make a note of what your cat was doing when the seizure started. Seek emergency care immediately if the seizure lasts longer than five minutes. 

While your cat is seizing, don't try to hold or restrain him in any way. Don't put your hand in his mouth, as you run the risk of being badly bitten. Try to make the area as safe as possible by removing any objects that might be nearby. 

As your cat recovers from his seizure, comfort him by speaking soothingly, petting and holding him. Your cat may appear fatigued and exhibit personality changes for as many as 48 hours following the seizure.

Treating Feline Epilepsy

While feline epilepsy can't be cured, you can manage the symptoms with medication. Your vet will prescribe anticonvulsant medication if your cat has more than one grand mal seizure per month, or if your cat enters status epilepticus even once. Anticonvulsant drugs like phenobarbital sedate the nerves and membranes in your cat's brain, helping to prevent seizures.