Seizures are the most common neurological issue in cats with between 1% and 2% of the cat population experiencing them. If this is affecting you and your pet, you may be eager to find a medication that can improve these symptoms.
CBD can make dramatic improvements to seizures in humans, but does it have the same effect on cats and other animals?
You’ll be pleased to know that the simple answer to this question is yes! This article will help you understand why cats have seizures, how CBD can help to reduce them and will recommend some key CBD products aimed directly at cats.
Why do cats have seizures?
Seizures manifest physically due to abnormal electrical charges in the brain and there are several common reasons why cats are affected including:
• Unhealthy blood sugar levels
• Lower levels of oxygen in the blood which can be caused by anemia, cardiovascular, and respiratory issues
• Shock or distress due to a traumatic event
• Brain tumors or brain damage.
• Toxins found in flea products, rodenticides, or medications (mirtazapine, ibuprofen, diphenhydramine, or some antibiotics).
• Extreme infections, fevers, or hyperthermia
• Kidney and/or liver disorders
In some instances, cats experience seizures regularly due to diagnosed conditions such as epilepsy. Seizures can also occur without any underlying cause and these cases are also deemed to be an epileptic fit.
What Causes Epilepsy in Cats?
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that is usually treatable and can occur in both humans and animals. In recent years there has been a great improvement in treatment for those with epilepsy however around 30% of cases are still difficult to manage.
Epilepsy affects humans and cats in a similar manner. However, there is a vast difference in seizures from one person or animal to the next, with some simply staring vacantly for a few moments, to some experiencing more pronounced symptoms like shaking, twitching, and even becoming unconscious.
Often, it is very difficult to determine the cause of an epileptic fit, but the general idea is that they are caused by a misfiring of the neurons in the brain which are responsible for sending information around the body.
Epilepsy generally appears in cats between 1 and 4 months old and affects all different breeds. Sadly, the condition cannot be cured and therefore needs to be managed effectively to allow the cat and owner to lead as normal a life as possible.
Some research suggests that epilepsy is a genetic condition, however, more research is needed to identify all causes.
What Does a Cat Seizure Look Like?
When abnormal brain function causes a cat to have a seizure the results can be quite difficult to witness. Seizures of the feline kind generally last less than two minutes and occur in 3 different stages:
• The “Aura.” This is a period of unusual behavior prior to the start of a seizure. Your cat may appear unsettled and may whine, shake or salivate. This stage usually lasts seconds, however, has been known to extend to a few hours.
• The “Ictus” or Seizure. During this stage, muscles tighten causing the body to shake and often fall to the ground. Some cats may urinate or defecate during the seizure. This stage can also last just several seconds but are generally no longer than 5 minutes.
• The “Post-Ictal” Phase. This occurs once the seizure has ended and generally leads to much confusion and uncertainty in cats. Some even have temporary issues with sight. This phase can last anywhere from a few minutes to several days.
The symptoms listed here are those which are most commonly experienced, however, there is a vast range in severity of seizures meaning there are a huge number of possible outcomes.
Seizures fall into 2 main categories; partial seizures and generalized seizures. Partial seizures don’t affect the whole body and are caused by damage to part of the brain. Generalized seizures, however, do affect the whole body and can be experienced in 2 different ways known as grand mal and petit mal.
• Grand Mal Seizures: These are much more common and usually result in cats losing control of their muscles and therefore falling to the ground. During these seizures, cats generally have no awareness of their own body or their surroundings. They may unintentionally urinate or excrete.
• Petit Mal Seizures: During petit mal seizures cats don’t tend to spasm but they do lose consciousness and generally drop to the floor.
Sadly, there are some instances where cats appear to continually fit due to repeat grand mal seizures. These cases, often referred to as ‘status’ can be very dangerous and require urgent medical attention.
How Can CBD Help With Epilepsy?
Over recent years, the use of CBD has been widely documented and some incredibly powerful stories have emerged in relation to its effects on epilepsy. One story that grabbed a lot of media and public attention was that of Charlotte Figi’s battle with a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome.
Charlotte began having seizures when she was just a few months old and over the following years, the severity and complexity of her condition worsened. At its worst, Charlotte’s condition caused hundreds of grand mal seizures each week leading to a vast reduction in her quality of life.
Charlotte’s parents and doctors had tried an endless list of medicines and treatments to no avail, and it wasn’t until they were introduced to cannabis oil that they finally saw a future for Charlotte.
In just one week Charlotte’s seizures reduced tenfold meaning the quality of her and her parent’s life improved dramatically. As a result of this, a range of CBD oil is now sold under the name ‘Charlotte’s Web’ and has ongoing success.
Following Charlotte’s success, the amount of research into CBD continued to grow and more and more success stories came to light. Right now, there is a multitude of studies on this topic, the majority of which show that CBD can have a positive effect on epilepsy. Not only do these studies show huge reductions in the number of seizures occurring, but they also show dramatic reductions in their severity.
One study conducted in 2017 by The New England Journal of Medicine, set out to examine the effect of oral CBD on seizures which could not be controlled by standard epilepsy drugs. This was a fairly substantial study on 120 people, including children, completed over 14 weeks. 50% of the patients were given a daily weight-based dose of CBD and 50% were given a placebo, alongside their usual medicine.
The study produced some interesting results showing the dramatic effect of CBD oil. Those patients receiving the CBD oil saw a reduction in seizures from an average of 12 a month, right down to less than 6. In contrast, those taking the placebo only saw a minimal reduction in monthly seizures from 14.9 down to 14.1.
Another impressive outcome of this study can be seen from the number of patients becoming completely seizure-free during the trial. 5% of those taking the CBD oil achieved this pinnacle compared to not even one of the placebo group. These results really show how effective CBD oil can be in the treatment of epilepsy.
Another renowned study was produced for The Lancet, a well-respected neurology medical journal. In this trial, 214 patients with severe forms of epilepsy took part in a trial to identify how well they could tolerate the introduction of CBD alongside existing treatment. Like the previous study, the amount of CBD oil issued was dependant on the body weight of each patient, those of which were aged between 1 and 30.
The result of this study showed a reduction in seizures by 36% with a smaller percentage becoming seizure-free.
These 2 studies show just how powerful CBD can be in the treatment of epilepsy, yet they also suggest that research needs to continue in order to identify even more possible benefits.
To read more on the studies discussed, or to review even more, check out ProjectCBD.
So can CBD help cats too?
There’s already a lot of information out there about the benefits of CBD for dogs with seizures, and its good to know that the benefits are just as great for cats.
As humans, cats, and dogs all have the same Endocannabinoid System we all have the same reaction to CBD. The Endocannabinoid System is involved in regulating neurological activity in the brain and body by blocking the activity of specific neuronal channels.
When CBD enters the body, the Endocannabinoid System is stimulated and by making neurological changes it helps to diminish the chances of convulsions. This suggests that CBD can help restore order to the disrupted electric activity in the brain that causes a seizure.
Are Other Pets Using CBD to Treat Epilepsy?
Now we know the amazing success that can be seen with CBD oil we can look at some real-life cases of successful treatment. Tinkerbell, pictured above, a 13-year-old Pomeranian, was leading a difficult life before taking CBD oil with regular seizures. Tinkerbell was unable to move or eat properly and her owner, Emma, had had no success with any treatments from her veterinary clinic.
With no other options left to try, Emma decided to give CBD oil a go and much to her surprise it actually saved Tinkerbell’s life. She was due to be euthanized just before trying CBD yet now, over 2 years later, she is still alive and is walking.
(Screenshot is taken from Embrace Pet Insurance)
This is Charli, a beautiful 15-year-old rescue kitten from Adelaide. Charli suddenly became paralyzed due to a neurological issue (possible epilepsy) and the only possible solution given by her vet was to see a cat neurologist however her owner, Alicia, did not have the funds to do so meaning the only other option was euthanasia.
As a last resort, Alicia turned to CBD oil, and the results she saw were incredible. Charli’s eyes had been over dilated for days yet within 24 hours of starting on CBD the look of her eyes and her vision itself returned to normal. Within a few days she was able to feed herself again, and after only 5 days she was making progress with walking again.
This is yet another incredible example of the profound effect CBD oil can have on pets. Alicia even stated that “Cannabis saved Charli’s life.” Finally, here is another example of how internalizing CBD oil can have exceptional health benefits for pets.
Indy had intermittent seizures since being a baby yet since taking CBD her owner has noticed a remarkable difference in her quality of life with a significant reduction in seizures, and an overall happier outlook.
Although these stories may seem like miracles, there are countless other examples of pet owners who have seen a reduction in seizures, if not a complete turnaround with no seizures at all. Like anything in life, nothing is guaranteed, yet there is strong evidence to suggest it may well help in other cases too!
Which CBD Product is Best for Cats Suffering From Seizures?
If you’re thinking of starting your pet on CBD we’re sure you feel a lot of responsibility to get it right. That’s no surprise as you want to make sure your pet is safe from harm and only receives the best possible care.
The good news is that we can help you with this! There are 2 key brands highly recommended by us, particularly for cat owners. Firstly, Holistapet is a great brand that puts your pet’s health and comfort first. Their products help to reduce seizures, pain, inflammation, digestive issues, and skin problems to name a few.
They have a specific line of natural healing products just for cats and one of their top rated products is the CBD Pet Tincture. For serious health conditions like epilepsy and seizures, we find products with higher concentrations of CBD produce the best results.
Another key product is their CBD cat treats (also available to dogs: CBD dog treats) which are super nutritious with a good dose of CBD. They taste like salmon, a common cat flavor, and can be given twice a day.
An alternative brand ranking as a top choice for CBD is Canna-Pet, as they too offer products aimed directly at cats. Many pet owners have used this brand and have been extremely pleased with their success.
The products on offer here are their Advanced Small or Maxhemp ranges, with each best being mixed in with your cats’ usual food. Remember that capsules can take a little longer to digest.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read our advice on CBD for cats with seizures. We hope you’ve found it useful and look forward to hearing more success stories!