Seizing the opportunity: treating epilepsy in cats

September 02, 2011

Many cat owners are not sure how to react when their animals start behaving abnormally. The diagnosis of epilepsy and similar conditions is particularly difficult because the symptoms are so variable. In some cases the first sign has been described as "looking into space" - which is generally considered to be how most cats spend the majority of their time anyway. But when it is followed by twitching of facial muscles, chewing and swallowing and excessive salivation even the most unaware owners are probably tempted to consult a vet.

Akos Pakozdy and colleagues at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna now report an investigation into a total of 17 cats that were presented to the Clinic for Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases with specific epileptic symptoms. The condition of nine of them was unfortunately so severe that nothing more could be done. In the other cases, the researchers noticed that treatment seemed ineffectual for the first 4-11 days, which made many owners fear that their animals would never recover. But when treatment was continued beyond this period a good number of the cats responded well and in four cases the animals survived even longer than it took the scientists to prepare their results for publication.

All the affected cats were found to have changes in the hippocampus and related structures, the part of the brain most commonly affected in human epilepsy. Importantly, no structural problems could be found in other areas of the brain. The changes in the hippocampus appeared similar to those observed in a special type of human epilepsy (MTLE-HS), although the researchers report some differences.

There are several indications that the seizures directly lead to hippocampal damage. Although the evidence is not clear-cut, it is clearly preferable to treat the condition as soon as possible to minimize damage. Pakozdy notes that some cats may be particularly susceptible to hippocampal damage and thus not respond to treatment but in other cases "if the cat is treated early it may not develop severe lesions with refractory seizures and the final outcome will be better".

The new work at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna suggests that cats with hippocampal damage may have a better prognosis than indicated by previous studies and that the condition is not necessarily fatal. The owners of the surviving cats report that their pets enjoy a good quality of life, so it is clear that this type of epilepsy in cats can be treated effectively. Whether their owners will be happy to let them continue staring into space afterwards is of course another matter.
-end-
The paper Complex Partial Cluster Seizures in Cats with Orofacial Involvement by Akos Pakozdy, Andrea Gruber, Sibylle Kneissl, Michael Leschnik, Peter Halasz and Johann G Thalhammer is published in the current issue of the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jfms.2011.05.014).

The work follows on from the group's previous research on the aetiology of seizures in cats, also published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery (Pakozdy et al. 2010, J Feline Med Surg 12, 910-916).

The scientific article in full text online: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jfms.2011.05.014

University of Veterinary Medicine -- Vienna

Related Epilepsy Articles from Brightsurf:

Focal epilepsy often overlooked
Having subtler symptoms, a form of epilepsy that affects only one part of the brain often goes undiagnosed long enough to cause unexpected seizures that contribute to car crashes, a new study finds.

Antibodies in the brain trigger epilepsy
Certain forms of epilepsy are accompanied by inflammation of important brain regions.

Breaching the brain's defense causes epilepsy
Epileptic seizures can happen to anyone. But how do they occur and what initiates such a rapid response?

Using connectomics to understand epilepsy
Abnormalities in structural brain networks and how brain regions communicate may underlie a variety of disorders, including epilepsy, which is one focus of a two-part Special Issue on the Brain Connectome in Brain Connectivity, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.

Epilepsy: Triangular relationship in the brain
When an epileptic seizure occurs in the brain, the nerve cells lose their usual pattern and fire in a very fast rhythm.

How concussions may lead to epilepsy
Researchers have identified a cellular response to repeated concussions that may contribute to seizures in mice like those observed following traumatic brain injury in humans.

Understanding epilepsy in pediatric tumors
A KAIST research team led by Professor Jeong Ho Lee of the Graduate School of Medical Science and Engineering has recently identified a neuronal BRAF somatic mutation that causes intrinsic epileptogenicity in pediatric brain tumors.

Can medical marijuana help treat intractable epilepsy?
A new British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology review examines the potential of medicinal cannabis -- or medical marijuana -- for helping patients with intractable epilepsy, in which seizures fail to come under control with standard anticonvulsant treatment.

Fertility rates no different for women with epilepsy
'Myth-busting' study among women with no history of infertility finds that those with epilepsy are just as likely to become pregnant as those without.

Do women with epilepsy have similar likelihood of pregnancy?
Women with epilepsy without a history of infertility or related disorders who wanted to become pregnant were about as likely as their peers without epilepsy to become pregnant.

Read More: Epilepsy News and Epilepsy Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.