When to Euthanize a Cat With Seizures?

According to the American Humane Association, epileptic seizures in cats tend to be short in duration, generally lasting less than five minutes. While there is no one set time frame or rule as to when a cat should be euthanized due to seizures, there are some guidelines.

When to Euthanize a Cat With Seizures

When is it time to euthanize a cat with seizures?

In most cases, seizures are not life-threatening. But if your cat has frequent or prolonged seizures that do not respond to treatment and your veterinarian says there is no hope for recovery, it may be time to consider euthanasia.

A cat’s quality of life is an important thing to consider when trying to decide whether or not to euthanize her. If she is having seizures so regularly that she no longer has any time in which she isn’t suffering, it might be time to put her down.

You also need to consider how much the seizures are affecting her daily life. If she used to be active but now spends most of her day sleeping because the seizures are so debilitating, she might be suffering enough that euthanasia would be a good option.

Can seizures in cats cause death?

Seizures can cause death in cats, but they are not the most common cause of death. Most seizures last less than two minutes, but some can last longer. The longer a seizure lasts, the more likely it is to cause serious complications or death.

Seizures are caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain. These can be caused by many things, including infections, genetics, head trauma, and tumors. Seizures can vary in severity from mild twitching or quivering to full-on convulsions where the body stiffens up and goes through uncontrollable spasms.

What causes a fatal seizure in a cat?

When a cat has a seizure that lasts more than five minutes, it is called status epilepticus. This is an emergency situation that requires immediate veterinary care because the cat is at risk of permanent brain damage or death from a lack of oxygen to the brain. The veterinarian will give your cat medication in order to stop the seizure as quickly as possible.

Do seizures cause brain damage in cats?

The short answer is yes. Seizures can cause brain damage in cats. But seizures don’t always lead to long-term damage, and the extent of damage can vary.

As a general rule, if your pet has had only one seizure, you may not need to seek veterinary care unless you are concerned that there may be toxins involved. If your cat has had multiple seizures, it is important to have him evaluated by a veterinarian as soon as possible. It is also important to have your cat evaluated if his seizures last more than 5 minutes.

Why is my cat suddenly having seizures?

Seizures may be the only symptoms of an underlying disease or a complication from another disease. For example, seizures may be the only symptom of low blood sugar in diabetic cats or low blood calcium in kittens. In these situations, seizures will stop when the underlying condition is corrected.

Some disorders that can cause seizures include:

  • Blood sugar abnormalities (hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia)
  • Liver disease (hepatic encephalopathy)
  • Infections (encephalitis)
  • Toxins (organophosphate insecticides, rodenticides, strychnine)
  • Trauma (head trauma)
  • Kidney failure (uremia)
  • Low calcium levels (hypocalcemia)

What to do after a cat has a seizure?

You’ll want to stay calm and do your best to keep the cat safe. After a seizure, your cat may have trouble walking and even collapse. Be prepared with some soft towels to cushion her head if she falls over.

There will be a period called the postictal (after the seizure) phase where your cat will be disoriented and confused. She may not recognize you or her surroundings. Don’t try to wake her up or pet her during this time. Sometimes she may not even be able to eat or drink because of disorientation and confusion. It’s important not to move her quickly or pick her up and hold her close.

If the seizure is mild, it may end quickly. You can sit with your cat until she recovers her composure. If it lasts longer than a couple of minutes or if your cat has trouble recovering, call your veterinarian immediately or head to a veterinary clinic if you’re concerned about possible injuries from the seizure. If your cat is otherwise healthy, it likely won’t need emergency care, but you should still schedule an appointment to talk with your veterinarian about what happened.

Your vet will want to know how long the seizure lasted, whether your cat was awake or asleep at the time, whether your cat had any warning signs before the seizure started and whether she lost consciousness during it.

The veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination of your kitty and recommend some diagnostic tests, including blood tests (complete blood count and serum biochemical profile), urinalysis, and possibly some imaging studies such as x-rays and ultrasound. Your vet may also order tests for tick-borne diseases depending on where you live since these are common causes of seizures in cats.

How do you stop a cat from having seizures?

The best way to stop a cat from having seizures is to treat the underlying condition. If they have an infection, treat it. If they have epilepsy, give them anticonvulsants. If they are injured, get them to a vet for pain meds and surgery.

If you know that your cat is prone to seizures, there are steps you can take to control the environment.

  • Try to prevent injury. If your cat is in a dangerous place, gently move her to a clear area.
  • Do not restrict your cat’s movements during the seizure.
  • Do not put your hands near your cat’s mouth. A cat having a seizure cannot swallow her tongue. She may bite out of fear or confusion, but she is not aware that she is biting.
  • Make sure your cat can breathe. Do not block his airway.
  • Keep calm and speak soothingly to your cat. Your voice and touch can provide comfort and reassurance during this frightening time.
  • Gently roll your cat onto one side after the seizure ends so he doesn’t choke on saliva or vomit.
  • Note the time the seizure begins and ends, as well as any unusual behaviors (such as disorientation) that occur before or after the seizure.

The most important thing to do when a pet has an epileptic seizure is to stay calm and don’t panic!

Conclusion of euthanizing a cat with seizures

As you can see, there are a number of conditions that can cause seizures. Some of these are treatable, while others are not. It is impossible to know if your cat will recover from a seizure without taking it to the veterinarian and performing tests to determine the underlying cause.

After diagnosis, your vet will be able to tell you whether or not your cat will likely recover. If so, treatment will begin. If not, he may recommend euthanasia.

If your cat has more than 3 seizures within 24 hours, take it to the veterinarian immediately! Often, this is a sign that something serious is wrong and may even suggest a tumor in the brain. The sooner you get treatment, the better chance your cat has of recovering.

The decision regarding euthanasia depends on your cat’s overall condition, not just his seizure disorder. When your vet feels that the low quality of life is due to other conditions and that there are no further treatments to improve your feline friend’s situation, it means that it is time for you to consider euthanasia. This does not mean that you should wait until your cat’s condition deteriorates before taking action; the sooner you recognize when the situation becomes hopeless, the better off you and your cat will be.

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Hannah Elizabeth is an English animal behavior author, having written for several online publications. With a degree in Animal Behaviour and over a decade of practical animal husbandry experience, Hannah's articles cover everything from pet care to wildlife conservation. When she isn't creating content for blog posts, Hannah enjoys long walks with her Rottweiler cross Senna, reading fantasy novels and breeding aquarium shrimp.

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