Idiopathic Epilepsy in Cats Explained

Cats epilepsy is less frequent than epilepsy in canines. Epilepsy may not have a determined cause, so it may be idiopathic. The cat epilepsy may also be caused by an underlying condition. The symptoms of epilepsy include seizures, which may be frequent or only occasional. Cat seizures may be dangerous, so it is helpful to know more about epilepsy in cats, so that you can deal with your cat, if he is affected by epilepsy.

Idiopathic Epilepsy

Epilepsy may be idiopathic in cats, so it is genetic or has an unknown cause. However, there are cases in which the epileptic seizures are caused by different conditions such as poisoning, cat stroke, chemical imbalance in the body, hypoglycemia, cat brain tumors, blood clots or head injuries.

The vet must rule out these possible causes to determine that the epilepsy is idiopathic.

Epilepsy Symptoms

Epilepsy manifests through seizures; the muscles of the cat will move involuntarily and he may lose consciousness and will salivate and have foam in the mouth area. The cat will have breathing difficulties. These symptoms are the same, regardless if the epilepsy is idiopathic or caused by different medical conditions.

The seizures typically pass in less than 5 minutes, but it may also happen that the seizure is longer. During this time, the cat cannot control his movements and may easily get hurt, especially if he is near sharp objects or there is the risk of falling (off stairs, furniture that is placed higher up).

The seizures may occur on a weekly basis, but may also be less frequent (i.e. once every 6 months or less often).

Triggers of Seizures

Typically, seizures in cats have different triggers which can be:


  • A powerful noise (i.e. fire alarms, fireworks, thunders, TV)
  • Stress
  • Powerful smells or chemicals
  • Certain foods
  • Certain medications

How to Deal with Seizures


Firstly, you have to monitor the frequency and the possible triggers that contribute to the occurrence of a seizure in your pet; try to keep your pet away from these triggers.

When you notice that your cat is having a seizure, you have to make sure he is safe, that there are no sharp objects that may injure the cat; you also have to ensure that your pet is able to breathe. Place a few blankets or pillows around the cat and see if he can breathe. Ideally, you shouldn't try to open your pet's mouth or place your hand in his mouth, as your cat may bite you (involuntarily). Cats are not at risk of swallowing their tongue during a seizure.

Idiopathic Epilepsy Treatment

Epilepsy may not be fully treated, but the seizures may be controlled. If the cat only has seizure very rarely, medication is not recommended. If the seizures occur more frequently, the vet will prescribe anti epilepsy drugs such as Phenobarbital or Dilantin. These drugs should be administered on a daily basis and should make the seizures less frequent.