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My cat just stares; is he having a seizure?

Closeup on a beige-colored cat's face with big, staring eyes.

(Photo: Flickr/John Morton)

My cat just stares; is he having a seizure?

September 17, 2013

Q: My 11-year-old cat (indoor/outdoor) just suddenly started looking off into nowhere, like a stare, with his eyes dilated and meowing like he is scared. The episodes are short, and he won't respond to his name (or any noise) during the episode. He's always been fairly healthy and is up to date on his shots. Could he be having a seizure?

A: You are absolutely correct that this sounds like what we call a partial seizure (doesn't involve convulsions). At his age there are several possible causes that might include high blood pressure issues leading to a brain bleed (stroke-type event) or throwing blood clots. Secondarily it could be heart disease or a cerebral lesion such as tumor, or infection (such as toxoplasmosis) is possible.

This is something that warrants a vet visit tomorrow; if he is not in distress tonight I do think you can monitor and take him in tomorrow. If he develops convulsive (grand mal) seizures tonight, then an emergency visit is called for.

After any seizure activity it is normal for cats to behave oddly for minutes or hours. This post-seizure behavior can manifest as just profound lethargy to doing repetitive behaviors like pacing.

I highly recommend you keep him indoors for the night. If he had a neurological episode, then he may not be able to function normally (safely) outdoors right now.

-- Answer from Dr. Joey, a veterinarian on JustAnswer.

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