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Sho Shares About Elvis’ Seizures

October 4, 2012

Sometimes a cat’s CH isn’t the only condition he has to live with. Some CH cats, like Sho’s Elvis, also live with seizures. I asked Sho to share a bit about her experience with seizures as well as what she’s learned:

Elvis is a kitty with a dual identity.

He’s the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, of course, but when we’re in Da Hood, he’s Tupac Shaker.

He also lives a double life as a CH kitty with epilepsy.

When Elvis came to live with us, we did not know that he had a seizure disorder. The CH was apparent, though we didn’t know much about that either.

We just saw that the little tuxedo wiggled and jiggled, head bobbin’ like Katherine Hepburn, tail swinging like a metronome.

He made himself at home and developed a crush on hubby’s sneakers. Running backward as often as forward, he couldn’t figure how the laces retreated so fast as he chased them.

Instantaneous foster failure.

He slept in a large cozy crate with his two sisters. They ate from a common food tray, and all was well.

Until the day that he ran for the dish and plowed straight through it – dinner, kittens and all – and out the other side.

He zig-zagged under the couch; thumping, commotion. I did not think the word “seizure.” I thought the word “wrong,” and it was barely coherent.

On my knees, on my belly on the floor.

I don’t remember fishing him out, but evidently I did because then he was in my arms, against my body while I babbled.

“It’s okay, it’s alright, you’re okay,” as if I could talk him into it. Trembling, jerking, eyes wide, gasping, clawing.

Hubby appeared; he saw.

I stiffened; I could not hold on, I could not let go. Gerard pried him from me and wrapped him in a t-shirt, held him a few feet in front of a fan. It helped the struggling kitten catch his breath.

The episode lasted no more than a couple of minutes, but time was beyond measure.

Slowly the tremors subsided, like waves coming further and further apart. His breathing slowed, eyes beginning to focus.

We placed him on the bed, between us.

A light blanket over him, comforting words, easy touches, taking turns.

Small muscle spasms continued to ripple down his body for a while; aftershocks. Finally he fell asleep and at some point, so did we.

In the morning, our boy was completely recovered. Me, not so much.

Would it happen again?

Was it a CH thing?

Was it treatable?

Already at home in the CH Kitty Club, whose knowledge, support, and advocacy were invaluable, I looked for answers. I found the Epi-feline Yahoo Group, which saved the day.

Here’s what I learned:

Feline seizure disorders are fairly uncommon, but usually treatable.

Seizures can result from a number of things – toxins, infectious disease or brain tumor.

Often enough, there is no known cause (idiopathic epilepsy), as in our case.

Pricey diagnostics such as MRI and CAT scan sometimes yield no more than a veterinarian scratching his or her head.

Every cat is different.

Seizures vary in frequency, duration and intensity but the one thing in common is that it will scare the ever-loving bejeezus out of you the first time it happens.

As it turned out, the episode was not his last. Throughout that week, the scenario repeated itself almost nightly, with no apparent trigger, sometimes two or three times before dawn.

The treatment of choice for feline epilepsy is Phenobarbital. We did a bit of soul-searching; once begun, Pheno’s pretty much a lifetime commitment. Weaning off the drug tends to make seizures return with a vengeance. Control is more difficult to reestablish. Each seizure seems to forge a pathway for the next.

Over time, there’s a concern about damage to the liver, where Pheno’s metabolized; blood work is recommended to monitor this, and there are extracts, SAM-e and Milk Thistle, to mitigate the problem.

The next time that Elvis spazed out, we were not thinking about his liver.

Enough. He started medication, twice a day, and it did the trick.

Again: every cat is different.

Some cannot tolerate Phenobarbital at all and rely on herbal supplements like Valerian and Skull Cap to help suppress seizure activity. Sometimes a second medication is used to effect control.

Triggers may vary; thunderstorms, stress, such as vet visits may precipitate some Epi-cats to seizure.

Some appear cyclic, as in six-week periods. Often, there is no pattern at all.

We’ve been lucky.

Elvis has been almost seizure-free for just over a year. The one exception was a result of my complacency. He was still growing and had gained weight; I hadn’t adjusted his dosage accordingly.

To my knowledge, CHers are no more predisposed to seizure disorder than any other kitty. The jury’s still out on many Neuro brain cooties, however, and I know that my Elvis, my love, might have been unceremoniously dispatched by many a veterinarian had we not clutched him to our hearts and got informed.

The CH Kitty Club has info on seizures in the files. The Epi-feline Yahoo Group rocks big time; experienced, knowledgeable, compassionate help and support.

If your kitty, CHer or not, has a seizure, do not despair. As Elvis says, “Hey, what’s for dinner? Is it time to go out and play with my friends yet?”

My Epi/CHer is more than awesome: He’s EPICH!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Elena permalink
    April 30, 2014 1:31 am

    Thank you for your information about Elvis! I just returned from the ER Vet. My CH kitty Monki just had a 3 seizures in a row, for the first time, exactly as you described Elvis’! I’m devastated, but will do anything to help her. I’m going to the yahoo group for more info. Thank you again!!

  2. Rebecca permalink
    July 21, 2015 9:50 pm

    Everything you mentioned happened with my foxy. I adopted her knowing she was under developed and had very little coordination. At 9 months she started having seizures and had about 5 before the medicine at the vet could kick in. She’s been on phenobarbital for 6 months now and we haven’t had a seizure since except for a week after starting the meds because I didn’t give them on time. I worry about her liver. But it’s so nice knowing she’s not having seizures of any kind now. But her “bobble” is still there. Not severe tho

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