Cat Seizures in Older Cats- What You Need to Know

cat seizures in older cats

Cat seizures can occur suddenly and be an indication of an illness. However, they are an unusual symptom in cats. It can be a scary experience watching your kitty have a seizure for the first time.

In this article, we will discuss cat seizures in old cats, their causes, symptoms, and how to help your senior cat with convulsions.

cat seizures in older cats

Symptoms of cat seizures in older cats

Cat seizures in older cats can be very brief. Thus, your cat may experience a seizure without you noticing that they have had one. However, after a convulsion, most cats tend to change their behavior. This is known as the postictal phase.

During this time, your kitty may show signs like unusual pacing, excessive tiredness, and drinking a lot of water. If you notice these symptoms, take your cat for a vet examination immediately.

The most common signs that your cat is having a seizure are:

  • Unusual movements
  • Excessive drooling
  • Twitching
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Excessive meowing
  • Tail and shadow chasing

How to help your old cat with seizures

1. Observe how long the seizure lasts.

Cat seizures in older cats can last from a few seconds up to 10 minutes or even more. It is paramount to keep a record of how long your cat’s seizure lasts and provide the details to your vet.

Although seizure episodes can be stressful for cat parents, it is critical to stay calm and observe every little detail as your cat is going through a seizure episode. Use the timer in your phone to record how long the seizure lasts.

Seizures that last more than 3 minutes are a call for alarm, and you should take your cat to the vet immediately. Nevertheless, seizures lasting for less than 3 minutes too should warrant a visit to the vet, especially if it is happening for the first time.

2. Eliminate the stimulants

Ensure that you turn off the lights. To still see, you can use a lamp or a dim light. Also, ensure that the environment your cat is in is quiet and anyone around should talk quietly and calmly. Additionally, ensure that your cat has plenty of space around them to avoid hitting on objects and injuring themselves.

3. Do not move or touch the cat when he is having a seizure

As much as you want to help your fur baby during a seizure, do not move them. However, if you feel that your cat is in danger of hurting themselves by hitting a surface for falling, gently move them to a safer place. Ensure that you use a soft blanket to avoid getting bitten or scratched when moving them.

4. Contact your veterinarian immediately.

If a seizure lasts more than 3 minutes, call for emergency care. Also, do so if the seizures are frequently occurring or you notice that your cat is experiencing breathing difficulties.

Additionally, if the cat seizure is not stopping, use a thick towel to pick them up and wrap them for safe transportation to the vet.

Your vet may want to know the following regarding your cat’s seizures:

  • The frequency of the seizures and how long they last
  • The vaccinations your cat has received
  • If your cat is a strictly indoor cat or they access the outdoors
  • The kind of food you feed your cat and how they feed
  • Whether your cat is exhibiting other symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting
  • If your cat has recently lost weight

Your answers will help the veterinarian recommend the appropriate testing and begin treatment. Most tests for older cats with seizures include blood tests, urine tests, fecal tests, X-rays, Ultrasounds, and MRI.

cat seizures in older cats

Causes of cat seizures in older cats

Seizures occur due to abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Although frightening, they are not always medical emergencies. It is unlikely for cats to have seizures. However, as cats get older, they have an increased tendency to have them.

Most seizures in old cats are a result of an underlying health condition. Therefore, if your cat has been healthy all through but suddenly experiences seizures, take your kitty to the vet immediately.

Here are some of the most common causes of cat seizures in older cats:

  1. Brain tumors
  2. Infections in the brain
  3. Brain trauma and inflammations
  4. Parasites affecting the brain such as toxoplasmosis
  5. Exposure to flea treatment products
  6. Heatstroke
  7. High blood pressure
  8. Ingestion of human medicine
  9. Epilepsy
  10. Kidney disease

Other Warning Signs That Your Cat Is Sick

Cats tend to hide their pain. Just because they do not show the usual symptoms of illnesses does not mean that they are not suffering. Therefore, it is up to you as the cat parent to know the signs that indicate that your cat is unwell and get them the help they need.

Here are some signs to look out for:

1. Disoriented cat with dilated pupils

It is normal for a cat to have short-term pupil dilation when in darkness o when facing stressful situations. However, if your cat’s eyes remain dilated for a long time, it is an indication that your kitty may be having an underlying health problem.

A disoriented cat with dilated pupils could be a sign of a brain or head trauma, brain tumor, or poisoning. Thus, you will need to take your kitty to the vet immediately for tests and diagnosis.

2. Respiratory problems

Normal breathing in cats should be smooth and even. Therefore, if there is any change in your cat’s breathing pattern, you need to contact the vet.

Signs like rapid breathing, shallow breathing, labored breathing, wheezing, and very slow rate of breathing is indicators of respiratory problems in your cat. Additionally, a cat shaking head and sneezing, or coughing is a sign of respiratory issues and should be taken to the vet immediately.

3. Pale gums and tongue

A healthy cat’s gum should be pink and appear moist. Hence, if your cat has pale or white gums, it’s a sign that they are ill. Pale gums indicate poor blood circulation, blood loss, or anemia.

Dry gums may indicate dehydration and your cat may need immediate rehydration. Nonetheless, if your cat has pale or white gums, take him to the vet immediately.

Read Also: How to Get Your Cat to Drink Water

4. Sudden loss of appetite and weight loss

A cat not feeding well and losing weight gradually or suddenly need to see the vet. Cats should not stay for long without eating since it can cause liver damage.

Cat losing appetite could be a sign that your cat has intestinal problems, kidney failure, cancer, or dental problems. Therefore, take your cat to the vet if you notice a loss of appetite to rule out any health problems. Early diagnosis helps start treatment early and prevent severe health issues.

5. Cat is drooling and lethargic.

Cats may experience light drooling when they are excited or when they have tasted catnip or bitter-tasting medicine. Excessive drooling, however, may be an indication of a more serious problem affecting your kitty.

Some of the reasons why your cat is drooling and lethargic include dental problems, ingesting a toxic substance, epilepsy, viral infections, and upper respiratory infections.

If you suspect that your cat may have ingested something toxic hence the drooling, take them to the vet immediately. It is important to note that most household products are toxic to cats. Hence, you should store them in enclosed cabinets where your cat cannot access them.

Additionally, some cats may experience severe reactions from certain flea and tick treatments. Therefore, before using any flea control substance on your cat, read the ingredients, and consult your veterinarian if they are likely to cause an adverse reaction to your cat.

6. Cat drinking a lot of water

A cat drinking a lot of water and meowing may be a sign of an underlying health condition. Some of the health issues that may make your cat drink a lot of water include diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and kidney disease.

Therefore, if you notice that your cat is constantly at the water bowl and occasionally meowing, contact your veterinarian immediately. If these diseases are detected early, they are treatable, and your cat can enjoy a healthy life.

cat seizures in older cats

7. Changes in their coat appearance

A healthy cat’s coat is shiny and smooth. Therefore, if your cat’s coat condition changes to dull, matted, and losing hair, it is a sign that something is wrong with your cat. Cats may lose hair due to flea allergies, food allergies, or a disease.

A matted coat would be an indication that your cat is not grooming as regularly as usual. This could be due to obesity hence unable to reach some of their body parts.

Additionally, it could be due to arthritis which causes painful joints. Thus, your cat may find it difficult to groom some parts of their bode. Therefore, a cat that is not grooming properly needs to be checked.

8. Cat shaking head and sneezing and coughing

Sneezing, coughing, and runny nose are signs of upper respiratory problems in cats. If upper respiratory problems are not treated, they may cause loss of appetite and subsequent loss of weight in your cat.

This is because cats may lose their sense of smell and feel congested. Hence, if you note these signs of respiratory infection, take your cat to the vet immediately.

9. Cat vomiting

Cats may vomit from indigestion or stomach upset from something they ate. Also, a cat may vomit occasionally due to hairballs. As cats lick themselves during grooming, they tend to swallow the hair. As the hair build up in their tummy, your cat may vomit to get rid of the hairballs.

However, if your cat is constantly vomiting, it could be a sign that your cat has Irritable Bowel Syndrome. This disease is manageable with treatments that help ease the symptoms. Therefore, if your cat constantly has signs of an upset stomach, take them to the vet for check-up and treatment.

10. Cat has a bad breath

Bad breath in cats indicates dental or gum diseases. If dental diseases are left untreated, they can cause severe pain to your cat. Thus, your cat may be unable to eat and gradually start losing weight. Therefore, if your cat has bad breath and their gums are bleeding, take them to the vet immediately for treatment.

11. Cat hiding and isolating

A usually social cat suddenly wanting to hide and left alone is a cause for alarm. Usually, when cats are sick and lethargic, they hide to avoid attack from predators when they are weak. Also, cats may hide when they are almost dying also to avoid predators. Observe your cat's behavior and talk to your vet.

12. Excessive meowing, growling, or hissing

Is your cat suddenly growling or hissing when you try to pick him up or touch him? If yes, then your cat may be in pain. Cats may meow excessively or growl when they are in pain. Since cats are very good at hiding their pain, it is important to take them to the vet for extensive checkups and treatment.

13. Change in litter box behaviors

Sudden change in litter box behaviors for a cat that has been using the litter box is a call for alarm. Such changes include crying when urinating, urinating outside the litter box, and cat not peeing for a long time.

Change in litter box behaviors could indicate urinary tract obstruction, kidney stones, or urine crystals, which are very painful and can be fatal if left untreated.

Therefore, if your cat is crying when peeing, take them to the vet for a review and treatment. Moreover, if your cat is excessively grooming their genital area, take them to the vet as it could be a urinary tract infection.

cat seizures in older cats


Cat seizures in older cats can vary from one cat to another depending on the severity of the seizure. Cats with a mild seizure may space out by staring with a blank look in their eyes. In other cases, you may see your cat stumbling and falling down.

However, cats with more severe seizures tend to violently twitch and paddle. In some cases, they may run around blindly. Additionally, they may foam in their mouths, hang their tongues out, and experience uncontrollable erratic eye movement.

Hence, some cats may end up urinating or passing stool as they have lost control of their bladder and bowel during a seizure episode. After a seizure episode, take your kitty to the vet for examination.

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