Easing Cat's Seizures

CatChannel veterinary expert Arnold Plotnick, DVM, explains the treatment for cats who have epilepsy and experience seizures.

Posted: January 7, 2011, 3 a.m. EST

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Q: My 2-year-old Toyger has seizures about every two months or so, and also has seizures with a full moon. He is on Phenobarbital and I give him anti-seizure and post-seizure formula flower essences from Anaflora by Sharon Callahan.  Is there anything else I can do for my cat's seizures

A: I assume that you and your veterinarian did the proper diagnostics and that your cat was diagnosed with epilepsy. Epileptic cats require anticonvulsant medication to control their seizures. Phenobarbital has traditionally been the first choice for cats, because it is safe and effective. The goal of anticonvulsant therapy is not necessarily to eliminate the seizures completely, but to reduce their frequency and severity to an acceptable degree.

You didn’t say how often the seizures were occurring before you started the Phenobarbital.  Before making any assessment of the effectiveness of the Phenobarbital, your veterinarian must measure the blood level of Phenobarbital while your cat is on the current dosage. The amount that you’re giving might be too low, and need to be increased a little.  If the blood level is all right, you may need to switch to, or add on, a second drug.

Unfortunately, when it comes to seizure control, cats have few choices. Valium has often been used as a second choice, but it is mediocre in terms of efficacy and has undesirable side effects such as sedation, increased appetite and, in rare cases, liver toxicity. A study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association in 2008 reported that the drug levetiracetam (brand name: Keppra) is effective as an anticonvulsant when given in addition to Phenobarbital to cats with poor seizure control on Phenobarbital alone. The drug has to be administered three times daily, however, and is relatively expensive.

Before considering any new medications, have your cat’s Phenobarbital level assessed. As for the flower essences, I have no experience with them and have no idea if they are helpful, harmful or neutral.

See more articles by Arnold Plotnick, DVM>>

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Reader Comments

POFD    PFDO, MA

1/21/2011 12:23:40 AM

DFKJ

PDW    [DS, MA

1/13/2011 4:08:59 AM

OKDFE

P[XA    PA, MI

1/12/2011 3:05:33 AM

OIDS

Lisa    Oak Creek, WI

1/11/2011 6:10:28 PM

Thank-you for the info on epilepsy in cats and what drugs are used in felines besides Phenobarbitol or in combination with. I'm sure this will be helpful to many cat owners.

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