I have written about Tom and Jerry Syndrome before after a visitor shared her experiences with her cat who is sensitive to sharp, high pitched sounds which causes a seizure or fit. The sounds vary quite a lot from rustling packaging to jangling keys. You can even make sharp sounds to cause a fit (not recommended).
This is a rare but distressing condition for both cat and caretaker. Birman purebred, pedigree cats are more prone to it than normal, it is thought.
My article was built around many comments on the visitors page. Now I have learned that veterinarians in Hitchin, England, UK are doing research on the condition. Mark Lowrie of Davies Veterinary Specialists is leading the research. I believe it is being published the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. The scientific/technical name for the condition is feline audiogenic reflex seizures, or FARS.
This is a Scientific American 60 second podcast on the subject (just click on the triangular play button on the left hand side of the bar to hear it):
I had hoped they had come to some conclusions but not as yet, sadly. It is called “Tom and Jerry Syndrome” because in the Tom and Jerry cartoons, Jerry tries to scare Tom causing a jerk.
Apparently, the seizures can get worse and more frequent, sometimes several times a day and the the cat can suffer from full seizures.
The research appears to be centered on finding the genetic cause and treatment through anti-epileptic drugs. Currently the the anti-seizure drug Levetiracetam appears to help some cats.
We are still in the dark about causes. In my article, as a layperson, I proposed some possible causes and found that it appears to be linked to old age. Current research or feedback from vets indicates it occurs in cats averaging 15 years of age.
This link takes you to the article on the Anglia ITV News website where you can see a video which includes a short section showing the black and white cat shown in the picture above having a fit after the researcher makes sharp sounds with his voice. Other source: Scientific American.
My thanks to Michele for finding this story.
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