Caring for a Cat Having a Convulsion or Seizure

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Alex the epileptic cat -- post-seizure recovery
Alex The Epileptic Cat -- Post-seizure Recovery

Watching your cat have a seizure is a frightening experience. However, with a little bit of knowledge, you can make the situation safer for your pet and less frightening for you.

Average Seizure in the Cat

In most cases, a cat's seizure only lasts a few seconds or minutes. During this period, there are several things you can do to help.

  1. First of all, do not panic. Your cat will pick up on your feelings and emotions and may become even more frightened as a result. Also, you need to stay calm to help your cat safely through the seizure.
  2. Move your cat away from any objects or areas in which it can become injured. Make sure there are no sharp edges nearby that it could cut itself on. Move it away from any steps or stairs that it could fall.
  3. Remember that your cat has no control over its muscle movements while it is having a seizure. Many pets will urinate and/or defecate during a seizure.
  4. Keep your hands and other body parts away from its mouth so that you do not become injured. Do not try to hold your pet's tongue.
  5. Talk to your cat in a calm, soothing voice while it is having a seizure. You can pet your cat, but be careful of moving your hands too close to its mouth and be wary of being injured by its moving limbs.
shallow focus photo of orange cat
shallow focus photo of orange cat

After the Seizure

While any pet experiencing their first seizure should be examined by a veterinarian, it may not be necessary to immediately rush your cat to an emergency hospital.

If your cat had a single seizure, behaved normally before the seizure, the seizure stopped in less than five minutes, and your cat returned to its normal behavior afterward, call your veterinarian or local emergency clinic for advice. You may be able to schedule a veterinary appointment to have your pet examined rather than be seen on an emergency basis. You may be prescribed a medication to control seizures.

However, there are some situations where a seizure in a cat becomes an emergency.

brown tabby cat lying on white textile
brown tabby cat lying on white textile
tan and black tabby kitten
tan and black tabby kitten

When Does a Feline Seizure Become an Emergency?

Status epilepticus describes a seizure that lasts for a long period, usually 30 minutes or longer. If your cat has been having a seizure for more than five minutes and has not stopped, this is an emergency.

If your pet has had seizures in the past and your veterinarian has dispensed a diazepam (Valium) suppository, this is a good time to administer it following your veterinarian's instructions.

Cluster Seizures in the Feline

A similar and equally dangerous situation occurs when a cat has cluster seizures. Cluster seizures are, as the name implies, a cluster of seizures that occur back-to-back.

As with status epilepticus, cluster seizures can be life-threatening and emergency veterinary attention should be sought for any cat that has had more than two seizures in 24 hours.