Q Our 19-year-old cat Nellie had a very frightening seizure this morning. She was flipping out — she ended up lying on the kitchen floor kicking and flailing, with big gobs of drool coming out of her mouth. She quieted down and after a minute or two, she stood up and walked out of the room.
She was at the veterinarian for a wellness exam a few days earlier, and received blood work and a rabies vaccine (we haven’t heard the results from the blood work yet). This is the first seizure she’s ever had.
We called the emergency vet and they said to bring her in – but she was sleeping comfortably and seemed relatively okay. My husband and I decided to wait to talk with our regular vet when their office is open during regular hours. We’d rather not put her through any additional trauma today. What do you think could be going on?
A Dear Nina: I’m very concerned. Nellie may be having seizures for several different reasons but all causes should be addressed. I will presume you have had Nellie evaluated by the time this letter is published. I hope that everything is ok, and will answer your question for the interest of our other readers.
Seizures (or events that might be mistaken for seizures) may be due to problems located inside or outside of the skull. Medical conditions that may cause seizures or collapse include low blood sugar, low blood calcium, low blood potassium, extremely slow or fast heart rate, or low blood pressure. Causes of seizures located inside the skull include high blood pressure, blood clots, migrating parasites, trauma, or tumors. Interestingly, the most common intracranial tumor in cats is a benign one that responds incredibly well to surgical removal.
Each of these causes of seizures has a different treatment and prognosis. Dramatic events, like a seizure, should prompt urgent veterinary evaluation.
I hope Nellie has been diagnosed, treated, and has responded well.
Michael Stone, DVM, ACVIM
Clinical Assistant Professor
Cummings School of Veterinary
Medicine at Tufts University