Stress Seizures in Cats

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.

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Vicky

Hi. I have a 3 yr old cat who was born feral, found her and sibs at 5 weeks. She definately wouldn”t have lasted the week…she was that near death from starving . She is a fragile sort, shy and easily spooked. She is is quite tame and sweet and quite healthy. Recently she has had 2 weird episodes. A few months ago, she got scared by the sweeper…tho isn’t usually scared of it. She was reacting to another cat’s fear of the sweeper, as that cat hates it. She started running around the house and ran into a cat… Read more »

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Michele

My 3.5 year old cat (male) has never shown any signs of illness, and he had what we assume was a seizure at the very end of December. It appears our 7 month old lab was chasing him, and he ran under the bed (where we have suitcases to keep the lab out from under the bed). Within moments, we heard a blood curdling sound, and we realized it was the cat. It was a hideous sound and it went on for a good 10-15 seconds. By the time we got to him, as he was in between a suitcase… Read more »

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Leanne

Hello, i was wondering if you can help me. I think my cat had a seizure from being exposed to flea treatment about 2/3 months ago, he snapped out of if after about 10 minutes but since then he has been really really anxious, he lives with his sister (both spayed) and sometimes when she walks near him it’s like he doesn’t recognise that she lives here, they sniff each other and he relaxes but any sudden noise he’s so on edge and it’s all been hightened since the flea treatment incident. There also has been the odd occasion he… Read more »

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Marty

I have a 9 year old Maine Coon. He had teeth extraction in June 2018. There were problems with him waking up from the anesthesia. He began to thrash around in his cage after the surgery and he was blind. We brought him home he was, toes could not see could not eat could not move his bowels could not pee could not stand. We have worked very hard with him and he gets around the house very good uses the litter box goes up and down the stairs. Some compulsive behavior began to appear, and the vet suggested putting… Read more »

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Natasha

Hello, thanks for your post. I have been looking for answers around why my 1.5 yr old female cat Mila is having seizures and this is the first article I’ve found about stress seizures. Mila had her first seizure at 3am in a terrible rain storm with lightening. She yowled and screamed for a minute or two and then violently thrashed her front and back legs for what felt like 2 minutes. The blanket she was on was very damp. For the rest of the day she was very quiet and disoriented. I took her to the vet and her… Read more »

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Azian

Hi natasha Seems like your cat’s prob is the same as mine.coz im stress myself thinking why is my cat having seizures whenever we try to put him in his carrier.he will be kicking all his legs front n back,drooling and wetting himself at the same time. The 2nd time he had his seizures when we tried to put him in a basket trolley as we were scared if hes phobia with carrier.after few mins in the trolley he started his seizures again. Im trying to think of an idea to bring him to the vet to sterilise him but… Read more »

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Natasha

Hi, Mila had another seizure when not in the carrier, she was stressed from her brother chasing her and ran under the couch and had a very bad episode. So I decided to try a product called EaseSure. She gets two drops every night and has not had a seizure for three weeks. I bought it because of all the positive reviews. Here is a link to it https://m.onlynaturalpet.com/products/PetAlive-EaseSure-S/230023.aspx

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Christy Tushinski

Im looking for an outside opinion. My wife and I adopted a 4yr old big boy named Sugar from an adoption agency. He had been moved around a couple times recently prior and took some time to acclimate and feel at home. In the first month we noticed he liked to hang his head when sitting in cat trees or the edge of a chair or couch, and he always had a twitchy tail. We’ve had him now for 8 months and he settled in very well and we love him very much. In the last 3-4 weeks he began… Read more »

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Sherry

Remove the source of the seizure!? How can I do that when it’s a persian that needs to be groomed and trimmed down every month and shampooed and dried? She started collapsing and falling over at age 10 either during a blow out or during a grooming session.. by the way I am a retired groomer … it started out infrequent back then and now it seems like she collapses either now during a grooming or during the blowout .. and by the way I don’t groom her and shampoo and dry on the same day due to the stress… Read more »

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Jaucelyn

My 3.5 year old cat was asleep on the back of a tall lounge chair when some visitors came in with a big dog. She tried to jump down but in mid air something happened and she fell to the carpet, went limp, eyes were huge and she was yowling like she was dying. When I went to pick her up she ran off under the bed and continued to yowl and lay on her side for 3 minutes. The yowl was terrible! I was able to get to her and isolate her from all the people and dogs. She… Read more »

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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?

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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.… Read more »