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Can Stress Cause Seizures in Cats? Vet Reviewed Facts & FAQ

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Image Credit: RJ22, Shutterstock
Last Updated on November 16, 2023 by Jordyn Alger

Vet approved

	Dr. Luqman Javed Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Luqman Javed

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Cats are creatures of routine that do not tend to adjust too well to significant life changes. With any change in environment, your cat can become easily frazzled, giving them a heavy burden of stress. Stress, as we know, can lead to health concerns, including seizures in cats.

This article will go over seizures in cats, what causes them, and how you can handle your cat’s seizures. We will further discuss signs that your cat may be stressed as well as how to reduce your cat’s stress.

Click below to jump ahead:

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What Is a Seizure?

Seizures are sudden convulsions. These occur when an uncontrolled electrical disturbance surges in the brain, causing your cat to twitch, tremble, convulse, or spasm.

You have likely also heard of epilepsy, which is a neurological condition that can cause repeated seizures. Suffering from one seizure does not indicate that someone has epilepsy; however, if a cat has at least two unprovoked seizures (meaning the trigger is unknown) 24 hours apart, there is a good chance they will be diagnosed with epilepsy.

Some may develop epilepsy due to head trauma, brain abnormalities, or genetic factors. Most seizures in cats are due to a prior head injury; however, some cats may experience seizures spontaneously with seemingly no cause.

tabby cat lying on the floor
Image Credit: Piqsels

What Causes Seizures in Cats?

As mentioned, head trauma or other issues with the brain can lead to seizures, although these are not the only possible causes. Other parts of your cat’s body may also play a role in their seizures, such as the liver. If your cat has liver disease, toxins may build up in their brain and cause them to have seizures. The kidney is another organ that, if diseased, could cause seizures in your cat.

Stress may also cause your cat to have seizures. When your cat is under extreme stress, your cat’s body will produce hormones that may cause them to have a seizure. Environmental factors may also induce seizures. Toxins may cause your cat to have a seizure, such as chemicals used in dog flea collars. If you accidentally give your cat dog flea treatment or your cat somehow gains access to it, they may have a seizure as a result.

Common Toxins That Can Cause Seizures in Cats

Some of the top toxins that cause problems in cats include the following:
  • Baclofen
  • Permethrin
  • Fluoroquinolone antibiotics
  • Diphenhydramine
  • Minoxidil
  • Acetaminophen
  • Ivermectin and Moxidectin
  • Amitriptyline
  • Mirtazapine
  • Tea Tree
  • Alpha lipoic acid
  • Bromethalin
  • Ibuprofen

Keeping your cat away from these toxins is vital for their health, so check your home to verify that anything containing these toxins is out of reach of your cat.

How to Know if Your Cat Is Having a Seizure

Shortly before a seizure begins, your cat may exhibit some odd behavior. This may include strange movements such as pacing or circling. Your cat may yowl or even vomit before a seizure occurs.

During a seizure, your cat may collapse on the ground. A cat’s body will likely be stiff before they begins to experience uncontrollable muscle contractions or convulsions. This may look like your cat is jerking around, snapping their jaw, or running in place. Seizures generally only last for a minute or two at most. If the attack does not stop soon or if your cat continues to have repeated episodes in a short time, they will need emergency care immediately.

After the seizure, your cat will likely be disoriented. Your cat may be momentarily immobile or seemingly blind. It is also possible that they will vomit and experience some temporary behavioral changes.

cat owner belly rubbing her cat
Image Credit: Anna Hoychuk, Shutterstock

How to Care for a Cat During and Immediately After a Seizure

When your cat is having a seizure, the best thing you can do for them is to ensure that they do not hurt themself. You will want to move them to a safe place with no stairs or furniture to hit. Keep your seizing cat away from other pets in the household, as they may be curious and come too close or attack in confusion.

When moving your cat, be cautious. Likewise, when they recovers from their seizure, they may be so confused and not recognize you. This may cause your kitty to lash out in fear. As soon as the seizure is over and your cat is calm enough to be moved, it would be best to take them to the vet so your cat can be examined.

How the Cause of a Cat’s Seizure Is Diagnosed

Since there are so many potential causes of seizures, from stress to brain abnormalities to medical conditions, your vet will need to run a series of tests to diagnose the cause of your cat’s seizures.

Your vet may take blood and urine samples to test for causes outside of the brain, such as toxins. Blood tests, X-rays, MRIs, cerebrospinal fluid analyses, and CT scans may also be used to evaluate the fluid around the brain or to examine the structure of the brain itself.

cat examined by Vets
Image Credit: Kzenon, Shutterstock

Signs that Your Cat Is Stressed

If stress is a problem that your cat struggles with, there will likely be some common signs. Indications of stress include urinating outside of the litter box, gastrointestinal issues, excessive grooming or scratching, increased vocalization, a change in appetite or sleeping patterns, isolation, and aggression.

How to Reduce Cat Stress

If your cat suddenly becomes stressed with seemingly no trigger, take your cat to the vet immediately. It is essential to rule out any potential health issues that may be causing their stress.

If you have confirmed that there is no medical reason for their stress, reducing your cat’s stress will heavily rely on managing their environment. For instance, if your cat feels that they do not have adequate access to their needs, such as their litter box, food, or water, they will likely be stressed. Providing more places to use the bathroom or get their food and water may help to minimize these feelings of anxiety.

You will also want to ensure that your cat has time to play and cuddle with you. Activity and attention are important to cats, despite the popular stereotype that all cats are lazy and aloof. Keeping your cat mentally and physically stimulated will help reduce stress, and spending quality time with your cat will keep them at ease. Please note that each cat’s social needs are different and unique to them; it is important to respect their space if they don’t feel like cuddling with you.

Another way to help your cat manage your cat’s stress is to avoid sudden changes to their environment and to give them plenty of places to hide. Keeping a constant daily routine and providing escape areas for your cat are two great ways to relax their mind.

cat playing with owner
Image Credit: Dora Zett, Shutterstock

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Although stress can cause seizures in cats, many other possible causes could also contribute. Still, minimizing stress is vital for your cat’s health. Cats can become easily stressed, and too much stress can cause significant problems. So, if you notice your cat seeming more stressed than usual, take them to the vet to rule out any medical concerns and start working on reducing stressors in their environment.

See also: Can a Cat Detect Seizures?

Featured Image Credit: RJ22, Shutterstock

About the Author

Jordyn Alger
Jordyn Alger
Cats are Jordyn’s passion. Whenever she has the opportunity she loves to learn about animals and share her knowledge with everyone. She is devoted to her sassy tabby cat named Jack and works hard to buy him his favorite treats and toys. Discovering new ways to better care for her cat is always on her to-do list, and she is eager to help pet parents everywhere. In Jordyn's spare time, she loves to write, read, and take long walks. She has a creative spirit, which often helps her to come up with funny cat names.

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