This weeks members webinar, kindly sponsored by VetsNow, is “Seizures in Cats”. This webinar is presented by Laurent Garosi (ECVN) who is an RCVS and European specialist in veterinary neurology. The webinar covers manifestations of seizures in cats, the causes, the elements of the neurological exam, and the treatment.
Manifestations of Seizures
The beginning of this webinar details how to recognise a seizure. Although it can be quite dramatic at times, and easy for an owner to notice, there are other times when it’s a bit more subtle. From vocalisations, clumsiness, or opisthotonus, owners are quite easily going to jump to the ‘seizure’ conclusion. Focal seizures and psychomotor seizures can be more challenging and they may be interpreted as just a ‘brain-freeze’ or silly moment.
Laurent notes symptoms keep an eye out for in the pre- and post-ictal period, and there are plenty of videos to watch. That’s one of my favourite parts of the webinar. With something like seizures in cats, being able to recognise the symptoms are part of the challenge.
FARS, auditory reflex seizures, are a particular interest of Laurent. Having written a great paper on it, Dr. Garosi is well prepared to teach us! This pathology is explained in further detail in the webinar.
Other things to look out for are mimic events. These are non-specific, often catastrophic events which are characterised by involuntary motor activity. Current knowledge presents that it’s unknown if it’s an epileptic seizure or cramp-like movements. In other words, a paroxysmal dyskinesia. These are also covered in more detail in the webinar!
Causes of Seizures in Cats
The causes of these events can largely be broken down into two categories, and a further two categories for one of the initial. Intracranial vs extra cranial, and then within intracranial there is idiopathic and secondary to structural. Within these categories fit functional abnormalities, structural abnormalities, and metabolic and toxic influences. I’ve found that putting pathological processes into categories can make life much clearer and lead to a better understanding.
Unfortunately, in cats about 0-g60% of seizures are idiopathic. However, being able to rule out the other causes can lead us here. Remember, it’s a process of exclusion and treating what can be treated.
Laurent Garosi walks us through which category most of the common causes fit into. That is, portosystemic shunts, liver and kidney disease, glycemic abnormailties, hypertension, infectious and inflammatory causes and more.
Neurological Exam in Seizing Cats
In a cat, there’s often a limit of how much you can do before they decide that enough is enough. This is even more true for a cat that’s still disoriented from a seizure. Often a full neurological exam is impossible, but prioritising the elements you want to examine is key.
The webinar covers the elements which are the most essential. Changes in this neurological exam can indicate causes and narrow down our causes depending on whether the neurological exam is abnormal, either symmetrically or asymettrically.
Further investigations are suggested, including haematology, biochemistry, urinalysis, T4 and of course blood pressure monitoring.
Treatment of Seizures in Cats
Unfortunately with seizures, treatment is not always possible. As mentioned before, maintenance is sometimes the best that we can hope for.
Where there is an underlying cause, treatment is the goal. Rather than medicate the cat for the rest of their life – we want all our fingers at the end of this – we can treat the underlying disease and the seizures disappear. For example, a cat with hypertension can be treated with amlodipine and the seizures disappear.
For those times that you are left with idiopathic epilepsy, then the aims are lined out wonderfully in the webinar. One of the primary aims is to control the epileptic seizures with a minimum of side effects. These side effects are covered in the webinar – one slide for each medication.
Although I haven’t seen any seizures in cats before, I do feel much more prepared to battle them when the time comes! Laurent Garosi does an excellent job of presenting the working pieces in a seizing cat case, and how to manage them. Another great webinar, which I highly recommend to those in ECC or small animal practice.
This webinar can be accessed for free by unlimited webinars here, or you can buy it on The Webinar Vet store here. You can have a look at the other webinars that went live the same week as this one, or discuss them in our Facebook group.
As always, happy watching!