Reactive seizures in cats : A retrospective study of 64 cases
Epileptic seizures are a common indication for neurological evaluation. This retrospective study reviewed 789 cats referred for epileptic seizure evaluation to the Department of Small Animal Medicine and Surgery of the University of Veterinary Medicine in Hannover, between 1998 and 2017. The aim of this study was to determine common causes for reactive seizures (RS) in cats. Reactive seizures were diagnosed in 62 (7.9%) of 789 feline patients. The most common cause of RS was presumptive or confirmed intoxication (n=34/62; 54.8%). Toxins included permethrin (n=5/62; 8.1%), fipronil (n=1/62; 1.6%), and pesticide (n=1/62; 1.6%). Other common causes were hepatic and renal encephalopathy (n=6/62; 9.7% each), hypertension (n=5/62; 8.1%), hyperthyroidism (n=3/62; 4.8%), hypoglycaemia (n=3/62; 4.8%), and hyperglycaemia (n=1/62; 1.6%). Most commonly, cats with RS presented with generalised tonic-clonic seizures (n=25/62; 40.3%). A single status epilepticus was observed in 9.7% (n=6/62) and 4.8% (n=3/62) presented only with cluster seizures. Focal seizures were the only presenting sign in 3.2% (n=2/62) of cases, however in 4.8% (n=3/62) they were accompanied by tonic-clonic seizures. The mean age of all cats presented for RS was 10.8 years. In the intoxication group, the mean age was 2.9 years. Intoxication (confirmed or presumptive) was the most common cause of RS identified. Clinicians should suspect intoxication when other causes of RS are excluded; when there are appropriate historical findings; when the cat is frequently unobserved by the owner; when symptomatic treatment leads to cessation of epileptic seizures; and when seizures do not recur after treatment has been discontinued.