Epilepsy and seizures in cats are not a unique disease, but a set of idiopathic disorders – without known cause – or symptomatic. The latter can be caused by multiple causes that include infections, neoplasms or brain tumors, trauma, metabolic problems or genetic origins.
In felines, epilepsy has not been as widely studied as in humans. Therefore, reference is usually made to the International League against Epilepsy, which studies human epilepsy, to define it:
“A disorder of the brain characterized by: a lasting predisposition to generate epileptic seizures and the neurobiological, cognitive, psychological and social consequences of this condition. The definition of epilepsy requires the appearance of at least one seizure ”.
Later, in 2014, ILAE and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) decided to declare epilepsy as a brain disease that is defined under any of the following conditions:
- Appearance of two or more epileptic seizures, not provoked, with a separation between them of more than 24 hours.
- An unprovoked seizure with a high risk of recurrence for the next 10 years.
- Diagnosis of an epileptic syndrome.
Types of epilepsy
Currently, there is still no classification of epilepsy in veterinary medicine. For this reason, the classification provided by the ILAE is applied to define epilepsy and seizures in cats.
- Epileptic seizure or seizure: is the clinical manifestation of a abnormal abnormal or synchronous brain disorder. This attack may be accompanied by other symptoms such as loss of consciousness, abnormal body movements, vomiting, diarrhea, urination, etc.
- Cluster Epileptic Crisis: are produced two or more epileptic episodes in 24 hours and there is always recovery of consciousness between crises.
- Status epilepticus: They are episodes that last more than five minutes, they overlap each other and the animal does not recover consciousness. They are very dangerous attacks that can cause the death of the animal.
- Convulsion: It is a set of contractions of several or all body muscles due to an abnormal discharge of energy from the central nervous system.
Causes of epilepsy and seizures in cats
The causes of epilepsy and seizures in cats are still under study, and in most cases the origin or cause is not usually ascertained, either due to lack of resources or the death of the animal. Just as there are types of epilepsy according to their duration or repetitiveness, they are also classified according to their origin:
- Epilepsy of idiopathic origin: the causes of epileptic seizures are unknown. It is believed that it may be for genetic reasons, although this is not demonstrated in cats. There is only one case in which a genetic analysis was performed and it was within a controlled colony used for research.
- Vascular problems in the intracranial zone: aortic thromboembolism, hypertensive encephalopathy, feline ischemic encephalopathy, polycythemia and coagulopathies.
- Inflammatory or infectious causes: one of The most common causes in the occurrence of epilepsy and seizures in cats are viral or bacterial infections or also diseases that cause intracranial inflammations. Some examples are toxoplasma, cutebrain, dirofilaria, rabies, feline leukemia virus, feline insufficiency virus, pfeline infectious erythonitis, cryptococcosis, blastomycosis and immunomediated meningoencephalitis.
- Epilepsy for head injury.
- Epileptic crisis due to congenital diseases such as hydrocephalus and lissencephaly.
- Neoplasms epilepsy: meningioma, lymphoma, glioma, pituitary tumors, neurocranial osteosarcoma and metastasis of extracranial tumors.
- Degenerative pathologies of the brain that can cause epileptic seizures: lysosomal storage diseases or hippocampus and piriformis lobe necrosis.
- Epileptic seizures due to toxic ingestion as organophosphates, pyrethroids, lead, ethylene glycol and metaldehydes.
- Metabolic causes: hyperthyroidism, uremic encephalopathy, hepatic encephalopathy, hypoglycemia, hypocalcemia and severe hypertriglyceridemia.
- Nutritional causes: basically, thiamine or vitamin B1 deficiency, essential to provide energy to the brain.
Treatments of epilepsy and seizures in cats
Treatment for epilepsy and seizures in cats will depend at all times on their cause., provided that this is known. Therefore, it is essential to make a thorough study of the case and use all possible resources to find out the origin of the attacks.
To treat a crisis itself, suppositories of diazepam are usually applied, among other drugs. It should always be done under strict veterinary control for its possible adverse effects.
By last, There are specific diets for epileptic cats; Some of them are already formulated and can be found in the market. They are based on an increase in the fatty percentage of the food that seems to help reduce possible epileptic seizures.
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