Something that is not widely discussed in the pet world is stress induced seizures. While it is not something that is common, it can happen to any cat or dog. Dogs are more typically prone to this especially in purebreds, but that doesn’t mean it never happens with cats. Knowing how to recognize a stress-induced seizure vs a true medical problem will help you keep your cat happy and healthy.

What Causes Stress Seizures?

The short answer is obvious; STRESS! While it can take a lot of stress to make this happen, a cat who previously had a medical condition that caused them is more likely to experience them. The chances of it happening are also increased in cats who suffer from separation anxiety or bipolar syndrome. 

Just like a human experiencing a panic attack under high amounts of stress, a cat can have mild seizures from high amounts of stress or after stressful situations. Things like being yelled at, getting into fights with other cats or animals, or a stressful move can induce them.

Are They Dangerous?

While they won’t hurt them directly, they can be hurt by accidents. When a cat has a stress seizure, they can easily fall off of a high place, bite their tongue, or get stuck somewhere. This can lead to other issues like head injuries and broken bones. It is important to watch over your cat when this is happening so they do not hurt themselves. Make sure they are on the floor and not biting their tongue.

What Does a Stress Seizure Look Like?

Typically, the cat will do a bellow or deep meow because they know something isn’t feeling right. They feel scared and are asking for help. This follows the cat either lying down or clasping over. They will tense their legs pretty stiffly and followed by this they usually become unresponsive. They may roll their eyes back, have their mouth open, and tense their neck as well. This usually only lasts 20 seconds to a minute long. As they come out of it, they will look exhausted and this is because they are. Some may go to walk only to lay back down after a few feet. It is very important to provide your cat the opportunity to rest. Make sure they eat and/or drink shortly after this. They may need to rest several hours before they are feeling better so keep things peaceful around them.

Signs and symptoms to look for with serious medical problems:

  • No appetite, not eating or drinking

  • Wetting themselves before, during, or after the seizure

  • Excessive panting

  • Crying and uneasiness

  • Signs of stomach or abdomen pain

  • Hiding/wanting to be left alone

  • Disorientation after the seizure has stopped

  • Multiple seizures happening in a short amount of time

If your cat appears fine after and you want to make sure, there is no harm in taking them in for a checkup. I do not advise putting them on medication for this. Simply removing the causes of stress will keep this from happening. I have personal experience with one of my cats and it rarely happens but when it does, he is back to normal a few hours later. Medication risks making them worse, causing them to happen more often, or just giving them other general health problems they don’t need.

If you have any questions or concerns, leave a comment!

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Gayle Harris
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Gayle Harris

Thank you for this information. I have a 12 year old calico who lives in my bookstore – loves people, very social, very sweet, very healthy. She rarely has to go to the vet. But the past couple of days I noticed she didn’t seem to be feeling well. So I took her in this morning. They were going to do a urinalysis and bloodwork. When the vet tried to draw blood from her neck, she missed the vein. The new assistant helping her was very timid and afraid of being bitten, and I think Maddie sensed her nervousness. I should have stepped in and help her myself, but I didn’t – bad on me. Anyway, Maddie then urinated all over the table and herself. The assistant took her to the back to wash the urine off her and get the other tech to draw her blood. She seemed fine… Read more »

Myrahnna Love
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Myrahnna Love

Dear purrfectlove
Last week my cat ran an started going in circles with spit dripping from her mouth, now this week she was purring an rubbing my legs an it was hard for her to swallow, an she started to run off all of a sudden she got confused an fell over trying to get up but kept falling over hitting her head, then she got stiff an was kicking her back legs, it all lasted about a minute or so, then she just laid there, she got up but it was like she couldn’t move she meowed loud 3 times, then she moved but was wobbling an laid down her breathing was fast

Will
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Will

Hi, My 5yr old cat has recently begun having collapsing episodes. The first was 3 months ago when we had guests in the house. They had been here over a week and she seemed pretty comfortable with them, and the house was very quiet at time. She made her usual sound as she was about to vomit, but after vomitting she collapsed (to her left). This lasted about 5-10 seconds then she sat up and defacated on the floor. She was still dazed and sat down in her poo. I took her to the vet where she had a check up and a full set of bloods. Everything cameback normal. She was fine for nearly 3 months, then we had guests twice in 10 days, and she had another episode. Again, the guests had been here a few days and she seemed comfortable with them, and it occurred late at… Read more »

Britanica
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Britanica

Thanks for your comment Will. Have any of these doctors checked for pancreatitis? I ask because that is what caused my cat to start having seizures. If they are truly stress induced, and the doctor has ruled out the chance of it being pancreatitis, I would try using natural calming agents first. Lavender is a good oil to use. You don’t give it to your cat or even put it on her, you simply use it in an oil diffuser away from where she can reach it. You can also try feliway spray which is typically used for spraying issues but can help with all kinds/types of stress related issues with cats. You can read about it more on their site HERE. I would add unflavored pedialyte to her water for a few days. Do it in a 50/50 ratio and change it twice a day. Do this for only… Read more »

Will
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Will

Thank you very much!
I have just been on the phone with the vet. She had considered Pancreatitis but ruled it out due to a number of clinical factors and her bloods.
My wife and I have been talking this morning and decided that we will try and provide her with a calm environment for a couple of weeks using herbs/oils etc. before thinking about any kind of drugs. The vet was very supportive of this also, and I think her initial suggestion of drugs was more a product of us being in a country where it is expected of doctors to ‘fix’ problems immediately.
Thank you for your suggestions of products to use too.

Jordan Ricks
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Jordan Ricks

Hello, I have three ginger toms, one is twelve years old and the other two are two years and brothers. One of the brothers is a very socially anxious boy, he doesn’t like visitors, loud noises, or being petted too much. He has had stress induced seizures when he has had to go to the vets; these usually happen just as we are leaving the house. I have tried putting a blanket over the cat carrier, but it doesn’t prevent the seizure from happening. Recently, he has started having them in his sleep. He panics, wakes up and runs out of the house, and i have to look for him because he is usually disoriented and can’t find his way back home. He has a seizure once every 3 or so months but now that it’s started happening whilst he is asleep, it’s happening more frequently. Last night he had… Read more »

Susan Antoniou
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Susan Antoniou

My 7year old cat had a seizure and has now lost her eye sight is there a possibility that she will have her sight back again?

David Waters
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David Waters

Hi there. I am seeking help but struggling to find exactly what my cat is doing. About 2 weeks ago she started to fall off of things (she insists on sleeping in weird higher up places). She falls onto the floor, urinates and then frantically chews at her fur around her sides or legs. She is perfectly fine once she stops aggressively cleaning herself. She isn’t hiding away from us, still likes attention, is still eating and drinking, doesn’t pant or lay down afterwards, doesn’t shout before during or after, her eyes don’t role back and she doesn’t go stiff. Not sure if it connected but arpund the same time she has started to groom herself so much that her hair is getting patchy arpund her sides and anus?

Kate
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Kate

Really want to thank you for this article. Yesterday, my SO was taking our cat to the vet. The cat really hates the car, and as he was lifting her carrier into the car, she suddenly flopped over and began to have a seizure. He was really panicking and raced to the vet. The episode lasted maybe 30 seconds, and was followed by her normal car behavior – crying, panting and pacing. I usually use a Feliway spray in her carrier when we have to go in the car, but I forgot to tell him about it. The vet couldn’t find anything wrong with her after a regular checkup but she will have some tests if it happens again. When she got home, she ate normally and wanted a lot of attention, then fell asleep in her current favourite spot. I’m still really worried but your article gave me some… Read more »

Aarika
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Aarika

So I was just scared beyond belief and am looking for some answers/guidance. My cat who is 5 was just sleeping on the floor. I started vacuuming and he woke up, jumped on the bed to evade the vacuum, left the bedroom and went downstairs. My boyfriend saw him cross the room normally, stumble, and then teeter as he was low to the ground. He called me down and I saw him teetering and looking at me with a frantic look in his eyes. This only lasted for a minute. He then walked low to the ground into the kitchen, hopped up on one of the dining chairs and proceeded to drool heavily for a few minutes. I pet him softly and talked him through it and within moments he seemed fine. He was eating, talking, and mobile. The whole thing lasted maybe 3 minutes. It’s been a half hour… Read more »

Beth Bencel
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Beth Bencel

Hello….I have 2 female cats, siblings, about 4 years old. One of them has stress seizures every couple of months. I was so happy to read the article and find that this is common and non life threatening. If they become more frequent I will take her to the vet for blood work to rule out pancreatitis. She is the passive sister…the other one is much more dominant. Whenever she has a seizure the other cat hisses at her. It happened last night and this morning she was still hissing terribly at the sight of her. This goes on for 4 or 5 days….then slowly they get back to normal, playing and grooming each other. Any idea why the other cat is exhibiting this hissing behavior?

Edenslight7
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Edenslight7

Hello thank you do kindly. My cat had a violent seizure last night around 3am . I heard cats screaming. Cat was in seizure few seconds then went limp and panting. I was getting ready to take her to emergency, i stroked her and she got up and walked. I thought she was stone blind, she was very disorientated. Daylight came she can at least see where she is going is resting on her favorite chair. Has drank water and ate some. One of my sweet cats sometimes attacks other cat usually only her son. But has once attacked other girl if she’s fired up.She can be vicious. She’s been stalking the poor cat,that had seizure is 15-17. I thought the cat Stacey might have had seizure when attacked. It was horrible I thought she was dying.Now she’s purring. You’re post helped calm me. Will still see vet.

Michele Barbera
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Michele Barbera

My cat got her head stuck about a month ago and was unresponsive for about 30 seconds Last night she started having seizures she had three four hours apart can this be a result. I’m very low income but can call my vet tomorrow maybe he can work with me. I just was wondering why she is four years old

Nikki Hart
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Nikki Hart

Hi! Thank you for posting this, it is putting my mind at ease but still have questions. My 12 year old cat had his first seizure ever two nights ago and since then he has had about 4 cluster seizures. When his first seizure occurred it was the longest of all and he went stiff and neck out etc. Thst was the night before we moved, boxes everywhere and the place was a mess. We move the next day and he was fine, unless I missed something. Then the following day (yesterday) was when he had the 3 cluster seizures. They all start out while he is in a deep sleep, where he has a limp body and doesn’t wake up easily. We took him to the vet yesterday, they kept him overnight and said he didn’t have any seizures while there. They ran his blood work and everything came… Read more »

Candace jones
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Candace jones

My cat won’t leave the window sill and he frequently falls out of it. I think he has some skin issues also at the base of his tail. Could he be suffering from stress seisures? His behavior changed when I stopped him from going outdoors introduced a liter box and started keeping him indoors.

Lilith
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Lilith

My comment maybe long. First my Female cat Remy was a rescue, She was abused kicked and they broke her pelvis. Vet took custody of her to fix her up and I adopted her. Her age wasn’t exactly known but She was at least 1 year old. She is now 14. Never has needed to see a vet until recently. We have 3 adult cats Remy included, They were not raised together but they got along great. I got suckered into adopting a kitten he is now 6 months old. I was told HE was a she, which is why I agreed to take it. But he is a boy, and he is a nightmare for the other cats. They all hate him. He is making himself the Alpha and bullying the others. I don’t want to get rid of him, So Im trying everything. With that said, Remy has… Read more »

Bre
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Bre

Hi my cat has a seizure last night she got under my bed and started meowing really really loud and my boyfriend and I got her out and was petting her, her eyes like wouldn’t focus like she didn’t know what was going on her body started twisting and she was shaking really bad I’m not sure why she did this it’s the first time she was a stray she had to of came from another family we took her in and she’s been great but yesterday scared me, at the time me and my boyfriend was wrapping gifts, could that of caused or is there something really wrong here ?

Lucy Wells
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Lucy Wells

Hello. Our cat Bella is 3 years old. She’s been having seizures for 2 weeks now, nearly every night but only between the hours of 8pm and 5am. She’s averaging 6 per night. Lots of vet visits and different doses of ani-seizure meds tried which reduce the severity but does not eliminate them. She never has a seizure in the daytime (i work from home so I’m with her almost 24/7). The only possible explanation i can think of for night time only seizures is (she’s awake prio to the seizure so they’re not sleeping ones) shes been in lots of cat fights at night and on a few occasions cats have come into our home and terrorised her. I now lock her in and she shows little interest in going out. Could these seizures be association of night time with being attacked and therefore be stress/anxiety related? Should we… Read more »

dawn ferro
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dawn ferro

We recently brought a new cat into the house and my older cat is 15 years old didn’t like them and would constantly growl at him a fight with him one day he was fighting with him up on the top of the counter next thing you know my cats foaming at the mouth and now he won’t eat but he seems to be okay otherwise but he will not eat what should I do

Hadley
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Hadley

I was just casually petting my cat a couple of days ago when she suddenly went limp and her eyes rolled into the back of her head. She only snapped out of it when I lifted her up and shook her slightly, and then she seemed fine.
It happened again a few minutes later. I did the same thing, and again, she seemed fine. It hasn’t happened since, but I’m worried that it might happen again, because even though she didn’t seem to be particularly hurt by it (she didn’t meow or make any noise, and after she came back around, she acted as though nothing had happened), I do want to know if this is the same thing, or if it might be something different.