What Causes a Seizure in a Cat?

What Causes a Seizure in a Cat?

Have you noticed a strange and unusual amount of drooling or aggression towards the wall? Your cat might be having a seizure, which could be due to an abnormality in the brain. When your cat has a seizure, you might get scared, but what can you do to help, and more importantly, what causes the seizures?

Inflammation of the brain or by accidental ingestion of toxins can cause a seizure in a cat. Cats have two types of seizures: either generalized or focal seizures. Symptoms include involuntary urination or loud crying. Don’t move or touch your cat while it is having a seizure.

If your cat is having a seizure, it can be difficult to know what to do. Keep reading to find out how you can help your cat if he or she has one.

What Are Cat Seizures?

Cat seizures are abnormal electrical impulses in the brain that cause a cat to twitch, chomp their teeth, or collapse on the floor. A partial seizure involves just one area of the brain, while a full seizure involves both sides of the brain. You can recognize a seizure in your cat through several things, including drooling and convulsions.

Types of Seizures

There are two different types of seizures in cats: generalized and focal seizures. Generalized seizures affect the entire brain and might cause the cat to collapse. But focal seizures affect only part of the brain and can be identified through abnormal behavior such as a cat chasing its tail excessively or abnormally chomping their teeth.

Symptoms of a generalized seizure include:

  • A loss of consciousness.
  • Uncontrollable shaking and twitching
  • Closing and opening their mouth uncontrollably
  • Accidentally urinating or defecating outside of their litter box

Symptoms of focal seizure include:

  • Aggressive behavior
  • Crying as in pain
  • Drooling uncontrollably
  • Loss of limb control

Focal seizures can sometimes turn into generalized seizures if they last long enough. If your cat shows any of these symptoms, keep an eye on your buddy and time the seizure. It could be more serious or life-threatening if it lasts too long.

Average Seizure Time

The average time for a cat seizure ranges from a few seconds up to five minutes or more. However, any seizure that lasts more than a minute should be considered a medical emergency that requires a call to the vet.

When a seizure starts, make a note of the time and monitor your cat to ensure it is okay. After the seizure ends, make a note of the end time. Then call the vet to see what the next step should be.

Possible Causes Include Brain Inflammation and Toxin Ingestion

So what causes a seizure in cats? Possible explanations include a cat ingesting certain toxins accidentally or inflammation on the brain. A lack of proper nutrition can cause a liver or kidney disease that affects the brain in seizures. Your vet can determine if your cat has a nutritionally deficient condition that causes seizures. In the meantime, try getting grain-free cat food that is nutritionally dense.What Causes a Seizure in a Cat?

Cats might also ingest certain toxins unknowingly, such as when it licks a dog that recently had a flea medication applied. Or, it could come from cat owners giving their cats the wrong medications. According to the ASPCA, several toxins can cause seizures in cats, including:

  • Tea Tree Oil, when applied or given at full strength, is very toxic and can cause a seizure in your cat.
  • Ibuprofen at high doses will cause coma, depression, and seizures.
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid, found in many supplements, can cause seizures in your cat, as well as hypoglycemia and hepatotoxicity.
  • Baclofen is a muscle relaxant, but it could cause seizures, apnea, coma, and depression when given to your cat.

Other toxins found on the ASPCA site should be avoided around your cat to prevent seizures or other medical emergencies.

Brain inflammation is another cause of seizures in cats. If your cat has fallen recently and hit their head, they could have some inflammation from the head trauma. Low blood sugar, viruses, tumors, or parasites can all contribute to cat seizures. Only your vet can help determine and treat the cause.

Can a Cat Recover From a Seizure?

Typically, seizures last from a few seconds to five minutes. Cats with longer seizures should be taken to the vet immediately, as the loss of oxygen to the brain could be fatal.

Cats can recover from a seizure; however, if their environment has soft lights and is quiet. When you notice your cat displaying the symptoms of a seizure, turn down the lights and speak quietly to your cat, if at all. Don’t interfere and wait for it to be over.

Once your cat’s seizure is over, provide a soft and warm place for your cat to rest, as well as water and food.

How Long Can a Cat Live With Seizures?

If your cat has been diagnosed with Epilepsy and is receiving treatment for it, your cat can live with seizures for the rest of its life. Much like humans, cats adapt and learn how to deal with the seizures. Your vet will be able to monitor your cat’s condition with regular checkups and medication for as long as the cat lives.

Older cats are more susceptible to seizures than younger cats and might live with seizures for less time, so it’s not known exactly how long cats can live with seizures. But with anticonvulsant medications and careful vet monitoring, your cat can live for a long time with seizures.

How Do You Respond to a Seizure?

As soon as you notice that your cat is having a seizure, make a note of the time. You should not do anything else, including touching your cat, which could make the seizure worse. Keep an eye on the clock, or if it’s handy, start a timer on your phone.

Most of the time, cat seizures last under a minute up to five minutes. But if five minutes have passed and the seizure is still going on, you need to call your vet for an immediate appointment. Also, if you notice your cat struggling to breathe during the seizure, your cat needs emergency care.

Reduce the lighting and volume level where your cat is having a seizure. Less stimulation during a seizure can help your cat recover more quickly once it is over.

When Is It Time to Call the Vet?

Even if your cat has one seizure, you should call your vet for an appointment. Seizures in cats are rare, so that it might be indicative of a more serious problem. But if the seizures don’t last longer than five minutes, or they don’t happen that often, your cat doesn’t need emergency care.

When you call your vet, be sure to have the following information concerning your cat, as your vet will need this to determine a cause for the seizures.

  • A list of vaccinations.
  • Their nutrition and feeding schedules, and the brand of food your cat eats.
  • The number and duration of the seizures.
  • If your cat lives indoors or outdoors, and how many times your cat goes outside, it is mainly an indoor cat.
  • Any diarrhea or vomiting episodes.
  • If they’ve gained or lost significant weight.


Cat seizures often have causes that are treatable and temporary, so vet care is important to help your cat feel back to normal. If your cat does receive emergency medical care, your vet will administer an anticonvulsant intravenously. Once your cat recovers, they will send you home with an oral anticonvulsant if your vet deems it necessary.

With proper care and nutrition, you can help keep seizures in your cat to a minimum. Follow all of your vet’s instructions and dosing directions.