Sleepless Nights Due To Meds?

A cat taking medication for epilepsy is keeping his owners awake at night.

By J. Veronika Kiklevich, DVM | Posted: Fri Mar 4 00:00:00 PST 2005

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Q. I have an 11-year-old Maine Coon named Mr. K. He is a housecat, neutered and declawed, and, may I say, very well-mannered. Mr. K. has epilepsy and my vet is treating him with Phenobarbital 2cc daily at 16.2 mg. This is working well, but the problem is, Mr. K. does not sleep at night. My husband and I both work and sleep is a must. Mr. K. starts around 2 a.m. and does whatever he can to wake us up. I do not like shutting him up in another room, because it stresses him so badly, and phenobarbital does not help him sleep. My vet is going to try Diazepam. Is there anything else that you could suggest to help us and Mr. K. get a good night's sleep?

I of course want to keep the epilepsy in mind and do not want to harm my cat in any way. My vet just does not have any other ideas and I am getting desperate. I would appreciate any suggestions.

A. You did not mention when the diagnosis of epilepsy was made or how long Mr. K. (by the way, I love that name) has been on his medication. I am concerned that there is a possibility that Mr. K. has something other than epilepsy, and the seizures are due to other medical issues, especially if the diagnosis was made relatively recently. If he has a tumor in his brain, which is not all that uncommon in older cats, then he might be having a behavioral change (staying up all night) associated with the tumor. The only way to tell if this is the case, he'll need to have his head scanned either by a CAT scan, or preferably with an MRI.

Diazepam may help, but it is metabolized fairly rapidly in cats and you may not see much of an effect. Some of the longer acting benzodiazepines (which is the real name for this class of drug), such as clorazepate, may act longer, although there is not very much literature on using this on cats. In addition, all of the benzodiazepines, especially diazepam, can cause liver failure in cats, so you must monitor his liver enzymes frequently with blood tests while he is on these drugs.

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Sleepless Nights Due To Meds?

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Reader Comments

Janet    Bethlehem, PA

7/22/2012 12:27:33 PM

good article, thanks

Linda    Mandeville, LA

3/20/2009 1:28:34 PM

Interesting article.

janet    bethlehem, PA

2/26/2008 10:44:03 AM

very interesting thanks for the info

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