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Senior cat having seizures

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Dear Dr. John,

Over the last one or two years, our cat has started having seizures from time to time. He is a 20-year-old cat, and we have hesitated to have him evaluated and treated due to the incredible amount of stress that taking him to the vet causes. Not only does he freak out when transported but he is very nasty at the vet’s office and requires multiple staff members to control him. What are the causes of seizures in cats and how common are they?  How would you recommend we move forward with this? — L.I.

Dear L.I.,

Seizures in cats are not that uncommon. There can be multiple causes,  including trauma to the skull, metabolic disease, inflammation and/or infections due to bacteria, viruses, and even parasites, exposure to toxins, low blood sugar, epilepsy, brain tumors, and more. Even extremely high fevers can cause a cat to go into seizures.

The age of a feline patient and the history are important in evaluating the cat and making a diagnosis. An old cat like yours could have any one of several possible causes. The diagnostics will require a physical examination, bloodwork, possible MRI, and perhaps more such as collecting and testing the cerebrospinal fluid. A difficult cat that gets anxious and aggressive deserves care all the same and there are ways to work with such a patient. A combination of medications, proper handling such as fear free, using pheromones, training, and other modalities may need to be used. I would urge you to speak with your veterinarian about all of this.

Submit a video of the seizures to give the doctor a sense of what you are observing. You might also consider an initial home visit to reduce the stress for your cat. Is your cat having more frequent seizures, is he imbalanced a lot, and have the seizures affected other things in his life? All of these questions are part of the valuable history in making a diagnosis. The seizures might be able to be controlled with appropriate medication but only a proper diagnosis will allow for that determination. Only you can ultimately determine whether or not to move forward but I would urge you to do so. Good luck!

Dr. John de Jong owns and operates the Boston Mobile Veterinary Clinic.He can be reached at 781-899-9994.

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