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Unmasking Audiogenic Seizures: Understanding Tom and Jerry Syndrome in Cats

Cats are known for their curious nature and unique behaviors, but did you know that some cats may experience seizures triggered by specific sounds? This intriguing condition is known as audiogenic seizures, or "Tom and Jerry Syndrome" because of the similarity to Tom's jerking movements in the classic cartoon. Fascinatingly, these seizures may also occur in cats who we perceive to be deaf, because these sounds may occur a frequencies that we humans may not be able to hear. Deaf cats may only be "deaf" in the range that we can hear and may not be deaf at all!

In this blog post, we explore this lesser-known phenomenon, shedding light on the causes, symptoms, and management of audiogenic seizures in cats.

Audiogenic seizures occur when certain sounds, such as high-pitched tones or loud noises, act as seizure triggers for susceptible cats. This can occur in any cat, but they are generally older cats over the age of 12. This phenomenon also seems to occur more commonly in oriental cats such as Siamese, Birmans or Ragdoll cats, but any breed can be affected. The specific triggers can vary among individuals, and identifying the particular sound stimulus is an important step in managing the condition. It can be the scraping of a chair or the noise associated with opening of a packet of crisps or something similar. Usually the noise is relatively high pitched, and sometimes the specific noise cannot be identified.

Although the exact mechanisms of audiogenic seizures are not fully understood, it is believed to involve abnormal brain activity in response to specific sound stimuli. This abnormal neuronal activity can result in a seizure episodes.

Audiogenic seizures in cats typically look like sudden, uncontrolled movements, tremors, convulsions, or even loss of consciousness in severe cases. These episodes may occur shortly after exposure to the triggering sound and can last for a few seconds to minutes. If you notice that your older cat has had a seizure, it is vital to note the noises and circumstances in which it happened, to help give you a clue to what may have caused it.

It is essential to differentiate audiogenic seizures from other medical conditions that may cause similar symptoms in cats. Consulting with a veterinarian and obtaining a proper diagnosis through a thorough examination, medical history review, and potential diagnostic tests will help ensure accurate identification. Usually audiogenic seizures are diagnosed by ruling out other causes of seizures such as infectious diseases and heart disease.
The management of audiogenic seizures in cats primarily involves minimizing exposure to triggering sounds. This may include environmental modifications and human behavioural modifications, such as using white noise machines to mask triggering sounds or simply ensuring the cat is not in the area when opening pasta or crisp packets! Once you can identify the sound, you can manage these seizure much more effectively. In some cases, anti-seizure medications prescribed by a vet may be necessary to help control and reduce the frequency and severity of episodes.

If you suspect your cat is experiencing audiogenic seizures, it is crucial to consult with a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and guidance. They will conduct a comprehensive evaluation, consider the cat's overall health, and recommend appropriate management strategies tailored to your cat's specific needs.

Audiogenic seizures, can present unique challenges for cats and their owners. By understanding the triggers, recognizing the symptoms, and seeking veterinary guidance, we can effectively manage this condition and provide the necessary support for our feline companions. If you suspect your cat is experiencing audiogenic seizures, consult with your vet for guidance.
Together, let's ensure the well-being and quality of life for our extraordinary feline friends.
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