Seizures in elderly cats

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There are a number of factors that cause seizures in cats, the most common of which is feline epilepsy. An elderly cat that develops a seizure disorder may also be suffering from a more serious disease, such as a brain tumour.

Feline epilepsy can occur in a cat of any age, and can be treated by various therapies and medications. The onset of seizures in an elderly cat is cause for concern, and calls for diagnosis from a veterinarian.


A seizure in a cat is characterised by convulsions and sudden thrashing movements. Muscles will contract and spasm uncontrollably, and your cat may lose bowel control. If this behaviour lasts for more than 5 minutes, your cat is having a prolonged seizure, which is of particular danger for an elderly cat. After the seizure ends, your cat will be disoriented, confused, and may even experience temporary blindness.


The most common cause of seizures in cats is feline epilepsy, which cats can develop at any age. Other causes include head injuries, infectious diseases, brain tumours, allergies, or renal disease. Brain tumours and liver problems are more likely to cause isolated seizures in elderly cats than young cats. Seizures may also be caused by accidental ingestion of toxic substances or poison.

Expert Insight

According to the Pets, People, Places website, some epileptic fits are one-off incidences that are never really explained and do not repeat themselves. However, some elderly cats die during a seizure, indicating an undiagnosed condition which reached its crisis point.


If you have an elderly cat that is not a known epileptic, the onset of seizures may be symptomatic of a more serious disease that needs immediate treatment. Elderly cats are more likely to develop conditions such as brain tumours or liver disease that may be causing the seizure, and without treatment a life-threatening condition may develop.


If your older cat has symptoms of seizure disorder, you should schedule a trip to the vet. If the seizures are prolonged or continuous with little recovery between them, or happen more than twice in 24 hours, make an emergency trip to your vet.