Feline heart attacks are rare but seizures might affect 2.1% of the entire cat population and one cause of seizures is a stroke.
So stress might indirectly cause seizures for the reasons set out below.
I think it is acceptable to refer to medical research for humans when discussing feline health issues – at least as a discussion topic. After all a lot of medical testing on cats is carried out for the benefit of humans. The two species have a similar anatomy.
A study recently published in the journal Nature Medicine has found that stress causes the body to produce an excess of white blood cells, which can cause inflammation of the arteries.
“Usually white blood cells are a good thing, they help to fight off infections, but if you have chronic high levels they can turn against you.” (Matthais Nahrendorf Massachusetts General Hospital)
White blood cells are immune cells which defend the body from infection. If their numbers are high for a long time they start to invade the the arterial wall gradually eroding a protective layer that separates the flowing blood from the arterial tissue which in turn can cause the formation of blood clots raising the risk of stroke and heart attack.
It is believed that the white blood cell levels increase because stress triggers a response in the bone marrow of increased production of these cells.
I believe that this sort of research can help cat caretakers become more aware of cat welfare. There is a relatively high rate of feline seizures as 2.1% of the population of cats equates to 1,800,000 (1.8m) cats in the USA suffering from seizures. The causes are probably often undiagnosed. Vets sometimes treat the symptoms of idiopathic epilepsy (unknown causes of epilepsy). “Epilepsy is a recurrent seizure disorder.” (WebMD).
I am flagging up a potential cause that has not been referred to before or is rarely referred to. I have a feeling that, in general, not enough regard is given to feline stress. Cats don’t always readily express behavior that gives us clues that she/he is stressed. We can always do more to ensure our cats are contented and relaxed.
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