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Pet health update

I realized that I should give an update on Macy’s health after my last post. Also, amazingly, my original post about cat seizures continues to garner comments well over a year later. Now up to fifteen comments, people from all over are apparently also seeing seizures and finding this blog. So, I hope to be able to provide a bit of info about what I’ve learned.

Short version: she’s alright now and with any luck, things are now under control. However, there is a slight possibility of a brain tumor or something like that and the only way to tell is to either spend thousands of dollars on scans or continue to medicate and hope that the symptoms don’t get worse. More detail on this below.

By the way, we went to Friendship Hospital For Animals here in DC. I highly recommend it — they’ve got an ER and a full-blown facility unlike the smaller vets that I’m used to. Particularly, if your cat has had seizures before, make sure you know of a hospital like this and how to get to it in the event that you see multiple seizures in a short time.

Also, of course, keep in mind that I’m not a vet and you should be sure to consult with a trained professional. I’m only relating my own experiences and feelings here.

Lastly, the backstory: Macy is about six and a half years old and I’ve had her for six of those years. She had her first seizure in March 2005 and since then she’s had maybe six total (at least when we were present) until she had four in one night last month. We had her on Phenobarbital for about six months initially until the seizures seemed to go away and we took her off of it in September 2005. She had had maybe three “normal” seizures after that. Our vet recommended that we act again if seizures happened more than about once a month.

Here are the possible causes of the seizures as outlined to us:

  1. Environmental toxins: This would be poisons such as lead in your home or plants harmful to cats. We pretty much ruled this out. We’ve lived in three places total since this began and all were a couple years old or newly renovated.
  2. Liver shunt: More info on this here. This can be ruled out with what is called a bile acids test. It was ruled out in our case.
  3. Epilepsy: I actually originally misunderstood our vet in that this was exceedingly rare and she had only diagnosed one cat in 12 years. However, this is not because of rarity but rather because of near impossibility to diagnose. You have to diagnose by elimination. This is manageable with Phenobarbital, which we have put Macy back on. Seizures should hopefully go away entirely.
  4. Brain tumor: This can be diagnosed with an MRI or similar scan and would then require brain surgery to be hopefully removed. Typically, it’s my understanding that most owners hope for epilepsy and begin treatment and if the seizures continue or get worse, assume brain tumor. This is certainly a more economical option. Of course, for absolute peace of mind, you go straight for the MRI to rule out the tumor. The ballpark cost for the scan (not counting hospitalization and such) is about $1000 from my understanding.

Given Macy’s age and after some heartfelt thought, we decided to medicate her with Phenobarbital and take a wait-and-see approach. She seems fine and I will of course update as things progress!

I hope this info is useful. It seems the best use of my blog lately has been a pet health resource but hey, what’re you gonna do?

{ 2 } Comments

  1. Sarah | March 14, 2007 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    oh I see now..Well I am very glad your cat’s seizures are somewhat under control and that there is hope of keeping my kitty. I will make sure and post in hopes that it will help someone else and their poor cat.

  2. John-David | May 4, 2007 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for the update. I found your original post a short while ago as my six year old cat just had a seizure and it scared me to death. The picture you posted looked exactly like him. It’s good to know that there are treatments for this, so I can have hope that my cat can stay with me for a long time.