Many pet owners around the globe can't help but laugh when they see the paws and whiskers of their cats twitching in nap time. Most of the time, people assume that the felines must be dreaming about chasing prey, playing with favorite toys,... That being said, a few cat parents worry that the twitching may be epilepsy, an indication of underlying medical conditions. On the Internet, you could find lots of articles that cover the issue of kitten twitching in sleep with different analyses which tend to cause confusion among novice pet owners.
Want a straightforward summary about the twitching in sleeping kittens? If that happens to be the case, you have come to the right place. Check out the information down below in order to learn what to do if you see your kitten twitching in sleep.
Stages Of Sleep In Cats
Before we actually get to the issue of kitten twitching in sleep, it's a good idea to understand the characteristics of cat sleep first. Similar to humans, cats go through different stages of sleep.
In the beginning, it seems that your fluffy friend is dozing off but the pet remains aware of its surrounding. Generally speaking, the ears and the nose of the kitten should inform it of all sudden changes in the vicinity. In that state, the pet could rest but it still maintains a sense of alertness. Assuming that nothing disturbs it, your furball steadily moves to light sleep after just a bit and then it only takes a short while before the pet enters deep sleep. The twitching usually occurs during deep sleep and repeats itself as the feline cycle between light sleep and deep sleep.
Causes Of Twitching In Cats: Dream And Insufficient Muscle Atonia
Overall, REM (short for Rapid Eye Movement) sleep is the time that most mammals as well as birds dream vividly. Cats experience REM sleep after falling into a deep sleep and since the felines sleep a lot, they dream a lot. When your kitten dream about preys, toys and things like that, it may inadvertently twitch various parts of its body. As mentioned above, cats enter and exit deep sleep periodically so the appearance/disappearance of the twitching follows a cycle. On average, the felines tend to go into REM sleep (then twitch) about every 25 minutes.
Because the dream is a product of the brain which could be hectic, the body protects itself from harm by repressing its reaction to dream through a mechanism called muscle atonia. Under the effect of muscle atonia, the body is paralyzed but unfortunately, it runs into hiccups from time to time. In humans, insufficient muscle atonia allows a certain level of movement in sleep (sleepwalking) and the same applies to cats in the form of twitching. That is why if you notice your kitten twitching in sleep, the pet is probably acting out of its dream.
Most of the time, minor twitching in sleeping cats due to dream and insufficient muscle atonia is perfectly normal.
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Epilepsy: Is It A Possibility
In cats with epilepsy, seizures show up while the pets awake as well as sleep so it's indeed possible that the twitching may be a sign of feline epilepsy. Nonetheless, it's a breeze to tell if your fluffy friend is suffering from epilepsy.
Telltale Symptoms Of Feline Epilepsy
Overall, cats with epilepsy don't merely move their paws and whisker during nap time. In most of the cases, such pets shall paddle as if they attempt to swim. Additionally, excessive drool, erratic head movement, uncontrollable roll and so on should be among the most distinct signs of epilepsy. In several cases, epilepsy cats would defecate/urinate during seizures. If you notice your furball having these symptoms, it's strongly recommended that you take action as soon as possible.
If You Suspect Your Cat Is Currently Suffering From Epilepsy
Usually, only well-trained veterinarians could reliably determine if a cat is dealing with epilepsy. Because of that, it's widely advised that you take your fluffy friend to the local veterinary clinic for examination. Until you get the pet checked, it's necessary to keep other animals in the house away as a precaution. Besides that, after the seizures, give your kitten some space as it may be disorientated. Always keep an eye on the situation though since if a seizure lasts more than 5 minutes then the oxygen in the brain could be depleted.
Note: You have to be careful while handling cats with epilepsy to avoid potential injuries. In most cases, wrap a blanket around the pets to prevent them from hurting you.
Treatment For Cats With Epilepsy
To restore the life quality of epilepsy cats, it's of utmost importance to deduce the cause of the seizures. Until you manage to get to the bottom of the problem, the seizures would persist. Here are a few suspects:
- Chemicals: Though our their life, cats would be exposed to a variety of chemicals in medications, shampoos and so on. For most of the time, cat-specific products should not cause issues to the felines. That being said, some sensitive cats may enter seizures if they come into contact with certain chemicals such as pyrethrin. As a result, it's essential that you inform the vets about what you give your fluffy friend every day.
- Traumas: Cats these kinds of days often grow up as indoor pets so they rarely face dangers but your energetic kitten could accidentally injure itself. Generally speaking, in the case the pet receives a nasty head trauma, seizures may show up every now and then. Fortunately, you should be able to tell if your furball hit its head against something simply by searching for bruises.
- Illness: Brain tumors, viruses parasites and alike may make cats enter seizures without any warning. Depending on the severity of the illness, it could take quite a while for the twitching to subside in cats.
If there is an unknown cause, vets should give the pet some prescribe medications in order to reduce the frequency of seizures in cats.