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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 17933
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My older cat has just gone through about 2 minutes of non-stop

Customer Question

My older cat has just gone through about 2 minutes of non-stop yowlibg and seems very wobbly and disorientated. She has moved herself to the coolest part of the house and laid down please help
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 2 years ago.
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I am sorry to hear that your older kitty just went through a 2 minute episode of yowling and now seems wobbly and disoriented. I suspect that she is very upset about whatever happened and is choosing to try to isolate herself and regroup, that would make sense.There are a couple possible reasons for what she has gone through, but the most likely cause is a seizure.Seizures are rhythmic, repeated muscle contractions which the cat is unable to control and may lose consciousness during. Many cats will fall, have repeated motions/tremors, may vocalize and cannot rise, and can lose urine and stool control. Some cats simply seem to freeze in place, with very stiff muscles, and vocalize. They can be a bit weak or uncoordinated afterwards, and may seem confused but should come back to normal in a relatively short period of time. There can be several reasons for seizures.The most common is idiopathic epilepsy. That means that we don't know why but a circuit of sensitive neurons in the brain gets stuck repeatedly firing. Epilepsy occurs most frequently for the first time in young animals, and if she is older it is unlikely then she is epileptic.We do believe that there is a genetic basis for epilepsy as certain breeds are more commonly afflicted and siblings will often have them as well. Other cause for seizures are viral, bacterial, parasitic or fungal infections, metabolic diseases leading to waste products building up and affecting brain chemistry, low blood sugar, or even granulomas or masses in the brain. Most of the other disease processes that cause seizures cause other symptoms, those cats are sick or abnormal other than during the seizure.Have you noticed anything different about her recently (change in appetite or water consumption, more or less active compared to usual? weight loss?) ? Most cats do behave normally after they gather themselves after a seizure, although they will often be hungry and thirsty and may feel anxious because they do not remember what happened during the episode. Some cats with lower than normal seizure thresholds will seizure in response to being exposed to artificial colors, preservatives or gluten. So you might wish to feed him a diet without artificial dyes or flavors and one that is wheat free. Blue Buffalo purports to produce these sorts of foods. Decreasing stress is also a way to avoid seizures so if you know an event will be stressful for her avoid it if possible. You can also use calming sprays such as Feliway or pheromone impregnated collars to keep her calm. Was there any stressful event that you know of that led to this episode? Exercise should be kept at normal levels. Exercise is a great way to naturally relieve stress and increase positive endorphin levels in the brain. Ideally because she is an older girl she should see her veterinarian for an examination and bloodwork to look for underlying organ disease, changes in mineral or electrolyte balances, feline leukemia or feline immunodeficiency virus as well as toxoplasmosis. We do want to make sure there are no underlying problems that need to be addressed. If she has more seizures today, or if she is not eating and drinking or is behaving abnormally then an emergency visit today is best. We tend to be more aggressive with diagnostic testing in cats to look for causes for seizures and with treatment. If a cat has more than one seizure in a month or more than one in a day, even if it has been months since the last one I recommend medical therapy to prevent seizures.The reason for that is the likelihood of status epilepticus (one seizure after another) and possible brain damage is higher with those scenarios and we wish to avoid that.Phenobarbital is very effective in most cats at preventing seizures and if used at appropriate levels it rarely causes any organ damage. If you aren't comfortable with that drug there are others such as Keppra (levetiracetam) or Zonegran (zonisamide) that your veterinarian can prescribe. These newer drugs are reported to be less stressful on the organs but even they are not totally without problems. About 1/2 of the cats on zonisamide do have side effects, including diarrhea, lack of appetite, vomiting and incoordination. I find most cats handle phenobarbital better long term after the first few weeks of adjusting to the drug.As with any medical condition we must weigh the positives and negatives of using a particular medication. I would try and decrease her stress levels as well as using a diet without glutens, dyes or lots of chemical preservatives.If your girl has more than one or two seizures I think preventing brain damage by using appropriate medications at appropriate doses is more beneficial.If medication is prescribed make sure that her blood levels are checked periodically so that we aren't under or over dosing her.In many cases we never completely stop the seizures, but they should be much fewer and much less severe. The other possibility for her symptoms is a blood clot to the brain, causing a stroke-type episode. These cats tend to recover much more slowly and some have permanent deficits, although most do recover pretty well. In cats with blood clots we need to look for underlying causes, such as kidney failure, heart disease, hyperthyroidism, or cancer. It would be helpful to measure blood pressure and check blood work including a complete blood count, biochemistry profile, T-4 and a urinalysis. If heart disease is suspected then an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) would be indicated.If you cannot have her examined right away confine her to a small room with food water and a litter box, as she may hurt herself in her confused state.Please let me know if you have any further questions.