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 with 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
When to see a Veterinarian
If your cat is experiences anything from the above list, it is very important to take them to the vet ASAP. Those are common symptoms of Feline Pancreatitis which has a high fatality rate when left untreated.
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.