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What Are the Causes of Seizures in Kittens?

| Updated September 26, 2017

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.