When you bring home a furry new kitten, the last thing you expect is health problems. If you notice signs such as uncontrolled movements, leg jerking or foaming from the mouth, your kitten may be experiencing a seizure. In young kittens, diagnosing the cause of seizures can be difficult, but there are a few common causes. Seizures, regardless of the cause, are serious and if you suspect your kitten is having a seizure, seek veterinary care immediately.
When Your Feline Gets Into Something
The most common cause of seizures in kittens and cats, according to WebMD, is acute poisoning. Ingestion of things such as antifreeze or rat poison can cause seizures. While your morning coffee or tea might get you going in the morning, the caffeine found in coffee, tea and chocolate can cause seizures in kittens. Certain flea and tick products made for your family can cause seizures in cats, according to the Pet Poison Helpline. Kittens like to explore, so it is essential to make sure their new home is free of potential toxins. In addition to the Pet Poison Helpline, your veterinarian can provide a list of common toxins to be aware of.
Low Blood Sugar Leads to Seizures
Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, occurs when your kitten’s blood glucose levels drop below normal range. This commonly occurs when a kitten is not eating enough. Signs of hypoglycemia include hypothermia, depression, lethargy, confusion and seizures. Hypoglycemia requires immediate medical attention as it can prove fatal. Banfield Hospitals reports that 10 to 15 percent of affected puppies and kittens do not survive.
Other Conditions and Disorders
In many cases, seizures are a symptom of a larger underlying problem. Common causes in cats and kittens include developmental defects in the brain, central nervous system inflammation and liver and kidney conditions. Infections, such as feline infectious peritonitis and feline immunodeficiency virus can cause seizures. Parasites, such as toxoplasmosis, roundworms and cryptococcosis, also may cause seizures.
Not All Seizures Mean Epilepsy
The term epilepsy refers to regular idiopathic seizures, or seizures without an underlying cause. While these do occur in cats, they are relatively rare. A diagnosis of epilepsy only occurs when all other possible causes have been ruled out.
Tracking Seizure Activity Helps in Diagnosis
If you suspect your kitten has had a seizure, seek veterinary care immediately. Some things to take note of and pass on to your veterinarian include how long the seizure lasts, what occurs during the seizure, any other medical concerns or symptoms, recent medications, your kitten’s diet and feeding schedule and any potential risk of toxin exposure. This information may help your veterinarian determine what is causing the seizures.
- Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences: Common Cat Toxicities
- WebMD: Seizures in Cats: Causes and Treatments
- Banfield Pet Hospital: Hypoglycemia in Puppies and Kittens
- DVM360.com: Seizures in Puppies, Kittens Difficult Diagnostic and Therapeutic Problem
- Zimmer Feline Foundation: Feline Seizure Disorders
- Long Beach Animal Hospital: Seizures (Epilepsy)
- VCA Animal Hospitals: Seizures and Epilepsy in Cats
- Pet Poison Helpline: Top 10 Most Frequent Dog and Cat Toxins of 2013
Deborah Lundin is a professional writer with more than 20 years of experience in the medical field and as a small business owner. She studied medical science and sociology at Northern Illinois University. Her passions and interests include fitness, health, healthy eating, children and pets.