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Question
Hello.

We have a 16 year old female cat, long haired, spayed, had a full run of vaccines, and 3-year updates on rabies, but no follow-up inoculations, as she is strictly indoors and never boarded, and the vet said she didn't need the boosters. In the last 2 years, she's started having grand mal seizures. The vet has ruled them idiopathic, but suspects that excessive itching (fleas, allergies, etc) is a big trigger for them. The seizures themselves don't seem to upset her (she doesn't avoid the places she's had them), but post-ictal, she acts as if she cannot see, and seems panicked, crying frantically unless you hold her, talk to her constantly, pet her, etc.

My grandmother, an RN, said that touching 'something' after a seizure is a bad idea, it stimulates the brain too much? She keeps saying to just leave the cat alone, don't talk to her, don't touch her. Is she right in this? She just seems so lost and bewildered after a seizure. Any advice would be appreciated.

Answer
Interesting that you should ask this question when a bunch of us techs had this conversation today online.

The general thinking here is that you leave the animal alone but stay by them after the seizure. You don't want to stimulate them. Petting gently might be okay but whispering or speaking low and soothingly won't hurt her.

When a 16 year old cat starts to seizure, 99% of the time it's a brain related issue like a tumor or it's a build-up of ammonia in the blood. The latter is more common in dogs that cannot tolerate protein diets. Idiopathic means unknown for the most part. Unfortunately quite often these seizures in a 16 year old cat can be from a tumor. I have never heard of fleas or itching triggering seizures in my 42 years of experience.

I had a 13 yr old cat that started seizing out of the blue. One vet told us that she had a hairball in her stomach that was toxic. My dad took her to another vet who also examined her and declared that she had developed a brain tumor.

There are many other reasons she could be seizing, but like Grandma said, just sit by her and comfort her gently. Be very careful as some cats (and dogs) post-ictally can be aggressive and bite.

I should also mention that the cognitive issues she has after the seizure are also very common to a cat this age even without seizures. Geriatric cats tend to "sundown" especially at night and can become disoriented, vocalize and bump into walls. My cat acted the same as yours. In the clinic, we make sure the cat or dog cannot hurt themselves and pad around them with towels, blankets, etc. when they start a seizure. Then after we just let them recover.

I hope she doesn't have many more of these, I know they can be so distressing to watch.  

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Jana Connell RVT, CVT

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PLEASE READ BEFORE SUBMITTING TO ME: I am NOT a vet and do NOT diagnose diseases. That is only for a licensed Veterinarian to do. I will give you suggestions and steer you toward calling your vet for help. You can call the vet's office and talk to the technician there or the vet at times. Don't be afraid to call them! If you have a serious issue with your pet please post it to one of the veterinarians in here- I will tell you the same thing in my answer. IF your pet is injured or in an emergency situation, CALL YOUR VET- Do not wait and post in here. Just call the vet's office and get them in to see the vet right away. Critical treatment time is lost if you seek answers here when you should have your precious pet at the vets!! Don't sit at home waiting for an answer when your pet is critically ill or injured!! I can answer most questions about small animal and wildlife care as well as small animal nutrition. I can also answer questions about all phases of dental care for small animals. I DO NOT answer questions about birds (unless it is wildlife or songbirds) or HAMSTERS/GERBILS/CHINS/GUINEA PIGS/REPTILES/FROGS/RABBITS/PET BIRDS OF ANY KIND so please submit these questions to the appropriate sections. I, as well as other experts in here, do NOT do homework questions- that is for YOU to do! Please respect these rules for all of us. Thanks!

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I have over 42 years experience in the field of veterinary medicine. I specialized in small animals and did wildlife rehab for over 25 years, mostly raptors, squirrels and opossums. I am a Small Animal Nutritional Consultant with 6 certificates from Hills Pet Foods, CNM and Purina. I also specialized in Small Animal Dentistry which is a field I truly love. I also Teach Veterinary Technology to working technicians who are studying to take their California Tests to become Licensed Technicians. They have to take both the VTNE (Veterinary Technician National Exam) and the California boards.

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Audubon,World Wildlife Federation, American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians.

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Licensed with California and Oregon, RVT and CVT. Certified Veterinary Dental Technician Have over 1500 logged hours of Continuing Education Credits(that means I keep up to date!).

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Nominated for Expert of the Month for the last 5 years.

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