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 thu
|Contact: Dr Akos Pakozdy|
University of Veterinary Medicine -- Vienna