Scientists have found that humans and cats can suffer from a similar form of epilepsy that may be treatable with the same methods. According to a Feb. 1 article in Science Daily, Akos Pakozdy, along with his colleagues in Budapest, recently identified antibodies in cats that attack the proteins that make up the ion channels necessary for nerve cells to transmit signals to each other. The same channels are affected in humans with this type of epilepsy.
Epilepsy affects humans and many different species of animals, and all forms are characterized by seizures, though they may not be the type of convulsing seizures that the word tends to conjure up. In cats, there are two main types of seizures: generalized and focal. Generalized seizures may include collapse and sometimes violent muscle twitching in the legs. They may also include chewing or champing, foaming at the mouth, and a loss of bowel and bladder control.
Focal seizures involve twitching of the facial muscles, running or spinning in circles, biting of a specific area of their body, vomiting, diarrhea, drooling and champing. While seizures in cats can be caused by many different factors, epilepsy, according to WebMD's pets site, always has seizures that are similar and recurrent. Epilepsy usually becomes apparent in cats of 1-4 months of age, and persists for the rest of the cat's life. For the type of epilepsy that Pakozdy and his colleagues are studying, seizures tend to be focal in nature, rather than generalized.
There is currently no cure for epilepsy in cats, however Pakozdy and his colleagues believe that, at least for this specific type of epilepsy, immunotherapy may be an option, because in humans, immunotherapy has showed promise where conventional epilepsy treatments have failed.
Pakozdy and his team believe that immunotherapy would be effective in cats with this type of epilepsy as well, particularly where other treatments fail.
If you think your cat has had a seizure, seek veterinary care immediately.