Advice & Tips
understanding and managing epilepsy in cats

Understanding and Managing Epilepsy in Cats: A Comprehensive Overview

Written by Ryan Gliozzo


Explore the intricacies of epilepsy in cats, learn how to identify symptoms and discover effective management strategies for a better quality of life.
A close up image of a black cat who looks slightly shocked.


Caring for cats with epilepsy involves addressing important elements of their overall health. It is about providing consistent support in handling seizures and in order to help minimise their effects.

It can be heartbreaking to see our beloved felines in distress. Fortunately, there are now methods available to assist them, including treatment options that focus on enhancing their quality of life.

These interventions aim to ensure that our cats can live joyfully and with or without seizures so let's explore the ins and outs of managing epilepsy in cats.

Key takeaways

  • Grasping the complex nature of feline epilepsy for effective management.

  • Insights into the impact of epilepsy on a cat’s quality of life and well-being.

  • Understanding the importance of a tailored approach in treating seizures in cats.

  • Learning about the crucial role of consistent medication in controlling epilepsy in cats.

Identifying epilepsy in cats: symptoms and types

Spotting epilepsy in our cats starts with knowing the signs and kinds of seizures they might have. Being able to spot these symptoms early helps us give our cats the best care.

The stages of a seizure: from aura to recovery

Cats show many signs when they're about to have a seizure. This starts with the aura phase, where they might act scared or hidden.

The seizure itself is called the ictal phase. It includes jerking movements or them seeming "not quite there".

After the seizure, there's the post-ictal phase. Here, cats can appear out of sorts or sleepy as they start to recover.

Classifying seizures: generalised, partial and status epilepticus

Cat seizures come in different forms, like generalised, partial, or even a severe status epilepticus.

  • Generalised seizures are big and noticeable. Cats can shake or their whole body moves in a distressing manner.

  • Partial seizures are when just one area twitches or acts strange.

  • Status epilepticus refers to a prolonged and hazardous seizure, lasting more than 5 minutes requiring urgent care.

Idiopathic vs symptomatic: understanding the forms of feline epilepsy

It's also key to tell idiopathic and symptomatic epilepsy apart to treat our feline friends as effectively as possible.

  • Idiopathic means the cause is unknown, which is rare in cats.

  • Symptomatic show something is wrong in the brain, which is seen with specific tests.

A cat walking very dramatically on grass with his tail pointing upwards.

Epilepsy in cats: unravelling the causes

Feline neurological disorders are many-faceted and to properly understand the reasons for epilepsy in cats, it's important to explore intracranial and extracranial causes.

Intracranial causes come from conditions inside the brain. These could be tumours, inflammation, or injuries from trauma.

On the other hand, extracranial causes are linked to illnesses in other parts of the body. For example, liver disease or kidney disease can affect brain function and cause recurrent seizures.

Seizures can develop in cats of all ages, underlining the need for early detection. Brain disorders and
exposure to toxins can also lead to epilepsy, so recognising disease within the brain is crucial.

Even though seizures are intense events, cats often seem fine in between so thorough evaluation and regular check-ups are essential for proper epilepsy care.

Diagnostics and veterinary interventions

To diagnose and treat epilepsy in cats, we need a comprehensive approach. This covers basic to advanced tests. It helps uncover the full picture of this challenging condition.

Bloodwork and urine analysis: initial steps towards a diagnosis

Thorough bloodwork for cats and urine analysis are key first steps. They rule out other illnesses that might cause seizures. These tests are vital for proper seizure identification and treatment.

Advanced imaging techniques: CT scans, MRIs and their role

CT scans and MRIs are crucial for veterinary neurology. They help see if there are physical reasons for the seizures.

These tools are essential when epilepsy is due to something in the brain.

Spinal fluid analysis for cats with suspected epilepsy

Veterinary specialists often suggest a cerebrospinal fluid analysis.

This looks for inflammation or infections linked to seizures. It's a key part of advanced tests to improve our understanding.

Diagnostic method


Key benefits

Bloodwork and urine analysis

To exclude systemic illnesses

Quick, non-invasive, fundamental

CT scans and MRIs

To visualise structural causes of seizures

Detailed images, pinpoint accuracy

Cerebrospinal fluid analysis

To check for inflammation or infection

Crucial for diagnosing infection-related seizures

A vet holding a Sphynx cat close to the camera.

Treatment options for feline epilepsy

Feline epilepsy is tackled mainly with anticonvulsant medication.

This is key when seizures happen often and for no clear reason. Knowing about the medicines available can really help cats with this problem.

Many cats will need to take medicine for their whole life. This is particularly true for those with idiopathic epilepsy.

The most common drugs are phenobarbital and levetiracetam. They are good at stopping seizures with an efficacy up to 93% - this makes things easier for both pet owners and vets.

Remember, the treatment chosen can be different for each cat and your vet will know what's best.

Besides phenobarbital and levetiracetam, other treatments for cat epilepsy include the use of diazepam, which can be effective but has a risk of acute hepatic necrosis and imepitoin (Pexion), which is considered safe but requires further study to recommend as monotherapy. Potassium bromide is also often prescribed.

The goal in treating epilepsy is more about just stopping seizures, it's about making sure your cat has a happy life.

Making smart choices for seizure control is key. The treatment should be just right for the cat's type of epilepsy and overall personal health and circumstances.

A cat laying on his back on a cream coloured blanket.


Caring for a cat with epilepsy requires a lot of love, dedication and patience.

Treatment is tailored to each cat with specific medicines and regular vet check-ups. This care aims to make the seizures less distressing and less frequent.

Ensuring your cat's well-being includes understanding various health issues. For instance, find out why your cat sneezes and how to address it in our blog post, '
Why Is My Cat Sneezing?'

A proper diet can also greatly improve a cat's quality of life. Read our blog post '
The Best Dry Cat Food UK' to help support feline overall health.


What are the common types of epilepsy in cats?

Cats can experience different types of epilepsy, including idiopathic epilepsy, feline audiogenic reflex seizures and feline temporal lobe epilepsy.

How can I tell if my cat is having a seizure?

Seizures in cats may involve symptoms such as twitching, drooling, sudden collapse, uncontrolled movements and loss of consciousness.

What should I do if my cat has a seizure?

During a seizure, it's important to stay calm and ensure that your cat is in a safe environment. Avoid touching your cat to prevent injury and contact your veterinarian for guidance.

How is epilepsy diagnosed and treated in cats?

Diagnosing epilepsy in cats involves ruling out other possible causes of seizures through physical exams, blood tests and imaging studies. Treatment may include medication to manage and reduce seizure frequency.

Can epilepsy affect the quality of life of cats?

Epilepsy in cats can impact their quality of life, but with proper management and treatment, many cats with epilepsy can lead a happy and fulfilling life.

What are some common causes of seizures in cats?

Seizures in cats can be caused by various factors such as underlying health conditions, brain tumours, infections, toxins, or genetic predisposition to epilepsy.

For more information on related conditions, read about cat vomiting white foam causes and solutions.

Are seizures common in older cats?

Seizures can occur in cats of any age, including older cats. If your senior cat experiences seizures, it's crucial to seek veterinary evaluation and care.

Waggel Pet Insurance

Need more help? You're in luck if you're a Waggel Pet Insurance member. Along with our excellent coverage, we offer access to a 24/7 online vet to answer all your sticky questions, especially if you need grooming assistance.

Not a member? Why not get a quote now and cover your furry friend for a range of illnesses, all while enjoying our amazing perks and rewards.

Want more like this?

Get updates from us with helpful info, advice, answers to frequently asked questions and much more.

By joining, you agree to marketing emails. Unsubscribe anytime. See our privacy policy.

Share this post