If you own or are interested in owning a Siamese cat, you are probably doing a little research about this breed. They are an intelligent, affectionate, and energetic cat breed that is perfect for the family. However, you may be wondering if they are prone to any health conditions, particularly seizures.
Witnessing a seizure can be terrifying. Seizures are convulsive fits brought on by the cat’s electrical brain activity surging. This can cause shaking, tremors, twitching, and spasms.
If you already own a Siamese cat and believe your pet has experienced a seizure, make sure you get them evaluated by a vet as soon as possible.
Siamese cats are not significantly more prone to seizures than any other cat breed. However, any cat can develop health conditions that may lead to seizures. Several factors including genetics and environment can also cause cat seizures.
Let’s discuss in depth your Siamese cat’s risk for developing seizures and the causes of cat seizures.
Prevalence of Seizures in Siamese Cats
Seizures in cats are a rather rare occurrence. Cats get seizures far less than dogs. Yet, any cat can develop seizures at any stage in their life.
A study from 2020, suggests that the largest indicator of a cat developing seizures is age. Seizures are less prevalent in cats who are in elderly cats in the 8+ age range. Most cats who experienced seizures are actually in the 3-6 year age range. These cats were more likely diagnosed with epileptic disorders. However, recurrent seizures were more frequent in cats over 6 years of age.
In Siamese cats, there was only a .04% prevalence of recurring seizure disorders, according to the 2020 study. This is much lower than other breeds such as Birman, British Shorthair, and Burmese cats.
It is important to note that the studies conducted were of cats that were currently being seen in medical facilities. This doesn’t include cats who are not being seen by a vet. The data did suggest that insured cats were more likely to show signs of seizure disorders because owners with insurance for their pets are more inclined to take their cats to the vet when something is wrong.
Increased Risk Factors for Seizures in Siamese Cats
Even if Siamese cats aren’t particularly prone to seizures, they can be prone to neurological disorders that may induce seizure-like symptoms. For example, Siamese cats are more likely to develop Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome (FHS), which is also known as twitchy cat syndrome.
FHS is characterized by uncontrollable muscle contractions and behavior changes in your cat. Siamese cats with this neurological disorder may chase their tail, excessively meow, jump and run, and their skin may ripple during episodes of this disorder. They have no control over these actions and may become aggressive due to them.
This disorder is poorly understood. Doctors think a combination of dermatological, neurological, and physiological factors feed into this disorder.
What causes cats to have seizures?
Seizures in cats are caused by several different factors, so even if Siamese cats are not prone as a breed to seizures, there are still several risk factors that could increase their likelihood of suffering from them during their lifetime.
Epilepsy, which is the term for when an animal has 2 or more seizures without any provocation, can be due to genetics. However, in cats, this is rare. Most seizures are a secondary result of another illness or issue.
Cats who inherit neurological disorders may be at a higher risk of seizures.
There are several environmental causes of seizures in cats not related to an illness or genetic issue.
Antifreeze and rat poisons are neurotoxins. If your Siamese cat gets into either of these, they can begin to show signs of seizure, such as muscle twitches. These toxins are very dangerous and should be kept out of reach of your cat. If you suspect your cat has gotten into either poison, make sure to get your cat to an emergency vet right away.
Other toxins such as an incorrect application of flea medication may also cause seizures. This occurs when someone uses the wrong dosage on their cat (such as using dog flea medication).
If your cat gets overheated, they may suffer heat stroke which can emulate seizure-like behaviors. High fevers can also cause seizures.
Also, for some cats, bright lights and loud noises may cause seizures. Doctors aren’t sure why this happens.
Many seizures occur as a symptom of another illness. For example, low blood sugar or hypoglycemia can cause seizures. Hypoglycemia occurs in malnourished cats, young kittens who aren’t eating the right number of calories, and cats who have internal parasites.
Metabolic diseases such as thyroid disease and kidney disease can also lead to seizures in cats. The most common reason cats over 6 years old get seizures is due to one of these underlying illnesses.
Other causes of seizures in cats may be related to the following:
- Feline infectious peritonitis
- Heart disease
- Brain tumor
- Cryptococcus Toxoplasmosis
Often the cause of seizures in cats is completely unknown.
Recognizing and Responding to Seizures in Siamese Cats
A Siamese cat that has suffered from one seizure has a higher chance of having one again. If your cat has had a seizure in the past, you may want to know what to look out for in case it happens again.
Alternatively, if your Siamese cat has recently been diagnosed with any of the above illnesses, you may want to be prepared in case your cat has a seizure.
Seizures can look scary, so it is important to stay calm if one occurs.
Signs of a Seizure
There are 2 types of seizures in cats and they can each look different. Gran Mal seizures have three distinct phases:
- Pre-ictal (before the seizure): At this stage, your cat may seem lethargic or there is a sudden burst of hyperactivity. Some cats hide during this stage or seek out extra attention in anticipation of the seizure. The cat may start to have brain fog, sleepiness, and confusion.
- Ictal (during the seizure): The brain loses control over the body during this phase causing the cat to lose awareness. There could be gum chewing, foaming at the mouth, and loss of bladder or bowel control during this stage. It usually only lasts 30-60 seconds long, but they can last longer.
- Post-ictal (after the seizure): This stage lasts for up to 48 hours after the uncontrollable convulsions stop. Your cat regains awareness and body control, but they remain lethargic and attention-seeking. They may also be hungry, thirsty, or vomiting.
The second type is called a focal seizure. These come on quickly and without warning. These seizures involve facial twitching, meowing, growling, hissing, circling, running, headbobbing, or leg paddling. As quickly as these types begin, they end, and recovery is usually quick.
What do I do during a seizure?
When your cat is having a seizure, it can be easy to panic. So, take a deep breath and grab a watch. You’ll want to time your cat’s seizure because the length of the seizure will be important to your vet.
Don’t rely on your perception of time. When a loved one is in distress, it can seem like hours are passing by when it is only a few seconds. A seizure that lasts longer than 5 minutes in your Siamese cat needs immediate attention.
While your cat is seizing, keep your hands away from their mouth to prevent a cat bite or injuring your cat while they are convulsing. Make sure to move your cat by pulling them by their legs to a safe location away from stairs and sharp corners. Also, if your cat feels hot to the touch do not put them in water.
Water baths and ice can cause harm for a cat that is seizing.
Nothing should ever be inserted into your cat’s mouth during a seizure. They can choke on it or harm themselves during their uncontrollable convulsions.
If you were given medications to give to your cat in case of a seizure, be sure to administer those as directed. Most of these are given rectally.
Then, sit with your cat and comfort them until the seizure has passed.
Seek Veterinary Care
If it is your cat’s first seizure, be sure to get your cat to the vet as soon as possible. If your Siamese cat has been diagnosed with epilepsy, record the event and monitor your cat’s condition post-seizure. If a seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes or more than one occurs in 24 hours, seek immediate medical attention for your cat.
Treatment Options for Seizures in Siamese Cats
Treatments vary for Siamese cats suffering from seizures. In many cases, if the seizure was an isolated event, nothing else needs to be done. However, if your cat is having seizures more regularly, they may need medications or other lifestyle changes.
Phenobarbitol, potassium bromide, levetiracetam, and zonisamide are common anti-convulsion medications given to Siamese cats with frequent seizures. These treatments are usually lifelong, and your cat’s condition will need to be monitored by a vet regularly to make sure the treatment is working well.
These medications can be used separately or in combination. They don’t eliminate seizures in cats, but they can reduce the frequency and intensity.
Other Treatment Options
If your cat’s seizures are due to ingesting a toxin, they will likely be hospitalized and have intravenous fluid therapy.
Other illnesses such as hypoglycemia and metabolic illnesses will have to be controlled with some diet and lifestyle changes. Sugar supplementation and additional medications may be prescribed.
The treatment for seizures depends on the cause, which can sometimes be tricky to narrow down.
Work With Your Veterinarian
A veterinarian is the best person to consult for any concerns you have about your cat’s health. They can run diagnostic tests such as blood panels, urine tests, x-rays, and ultrasounds to discover the root cause of your cat’s seizures.
It may take a while for your vet to find the cause. Even after extensive testing, there may be no underlying cause of your cat’s seizures. This can be frustrating and scary, but the brain is still a very elusive organ. Scientists don’t know why certain animals can be more prone to seizures than others.
Still, cats with seizures often live long, happy lives if their seizures are well-managed and any underlying conditions are controlled.
Although Siamese cats are no more prone to seizures genetically than other breeds, there are still risk factors to look out for. Seizures are usually caused by an illness in cats, but some can have no underlying cause.
Even though a seizure can be very hard to watch, usually one seizure is not a problem. Even seizures that occur frequently can be managed with medication and treating diseases that cause seizures.
If your Siamese cat has experienced what you believe to be a seizure, take them to the vet as soon as possible for evaluation.