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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 38546
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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My 15 year old black tabby cat has had 2 seizures today.

Customer Question

My 15 year old black tabby cat has had 2 seizures today. Naturally I am upset with worry. I don't recall her having fits before. The fits have lasted about 3 minutes or so each. I don't know if she's had any others these are the first I've witnessed. She has always been a good mouser as well as other things, I live close to a canal and she often wanders down it. She is both an indoor and outdoor cat. Of late she has been eating a lot, and losing weight at the same time. I've put it down to the hot weather but also thought she could have worms. I've also heard it could be a problem with her thyroid. Please could you help and at the same time advise me on a rough idea on cost. Thank you. Julia
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 6 months ago.

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Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 6 months ago.

I'm sorry to hear of this with your elderly cat, Julia. Seizure disorders in cats present a significant diagnostic challenge and may result from primary intracranial (within the skull) disease or extracranial (outside the skull) disease. Structural brain disease has been identified as the most common cause of seizures in cats and includes meningoencephalitis, feline ischemic encephalopathy, neoplasia (brain tumor is a very important consideration in a 15-year-old), trauma, abscess, and vascular disorders. However, idiopathic epilepsy (defined as recurrent seizures in the absence of an underlying cause) is an important and often overlooked cause of seizures in cats, accounting for 25% of cases in one report of 91 cats.

Cats with idiopathic epilepsy tended to be younger than those with structural brain disease, with a mean age of 3.5 years in two publications. Feline hippocampal necrosis should also be considered in the differential diagnosis for a seizing cat. It's characterized by acute onset seizures and behavioral changes in young to middle-aged cats with poor response to conventional anticonvulsant therapy and progressively worsening signs.

When a metabolic or systemic cause is ruled out through a preliminary workup of blood/urine testing, blood pressure testing, and testing for the feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency viruses, advanced imaging (MRI) and cerebrospinal fluid analysis are indicated. Alternatively, a more conservative approach involving the use of anticonvulsive medications is appropriate. Most neurologists will accept one mild seizure monthly before initiating anti-convulsive therapy. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.