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New Seizure Study Shows Your Cat Might Need Earplugs

Posted May 04, 2015 in A Vet's Life

Cat having his ear examed

Best be careful about what kinds of noises you make while in the presence of your kitty. This is because some cats, like some humans, suffer from seizures that are triggered by particular noises. A recent study, published in The Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, characterized noise-induced seizures in cats.

The research
According to NBC News, The study researchers included:

This trio refers to the phenomenon of noise-induced seizures in cats as “feline audiogenic reflex seizures” (FARS).  

Here’s how the study worked1:

  • Guardians of 96 kitties with FARS completed questionnaires
  • The cats’ medical records were evaluated

Breeds affected with FARS ran the gamut, including:

From a statistical point of view, Birman kitties appear to be overrepresented. This suggests a possible inheritance within this breed1.

Results revealed that sound-induced seizures were more common in older cats, with an average age of onset of 15 years. Seizure activity varied from mild twitching, all the way to loss of consciousness and full body muscle contractions1.

Interestingly, all of the sounds triggering seizures were high pitched. The more common sound stimuli identified included:

  • Crinkling of tin foil (82 cats)
  • A metal spoon dropping into a ceramic feeding bowl (79 cats)
  • Crinkling of paper or plastic bags (71 cats)
  • Tapping a computer keyboard or clicking the mouse (61 cats)
  • Clinking coins or keys (59 cats)
  • Clinking or tapping a glass
  • Hammering a nail (38 cats)
  • A person clicking the tongue (24 cats)

Now here’s where it gets really interesting! All guardians felt they could consistently induce a seizure by making one of the described trigger noises. In fact, for some kitties, the louder or longer the noise, the more severe the seizure.

Related symptoms: 

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Nancy has more than 30 years of experience in the veterinary industry and is a board-certified veterinary specialist in internal medicine as well as a valued member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team since 2014.

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The opinions and views expressed in this post are those of the author's and do not necessarily represent the beliefs, policies or positions of all veterinarians, Pet Health Network, IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. or its affiliates and partner companies.