Stop jangling your keys and crinkling tin foil! It may trigger a seizure in your elderly cat

Published On May 11, 2015 | By Keri | Middays

Owners of cats, older cats especially, listen up.

You may want to rethink crinkling tin foil or clanking a spoon on the side of that Friskies can to get your cat’s attention.

A study has found that high-pitched sounds that we come across every day can cause some elderly cats to suffer seizures.

Published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, the research confirms years of reports made by helpless cat owners around the world. The rare condition, which scientists have named feline audiogenic reflex seizures (Fars), is similar to audiogenic epilepsy in humans.

The condition, nicknamed the “Tom and Jerry syndrome” (after cartoon cat “Tom”who reacts to loud sounds with involuntary jerks) seems to appear in elderly felines and can cause a range of seizures: absences (non-convulsive seizures), myoclonic seizures (brief, shock-like jerks of a muscle or a group of muscles), or generalized tonic-clonic seizures, which are the most severe and lead to a loss of consciousness as well as several minutes of body stiffening and jerking.

Researcher Claire Bessant, chief executive of International Cat Care, said in a press release, “How wonderful to be able to go back to those worried owners who came to us for help with a problem previously un-recognized by the veterinary profession with not only an explanation for their cats’ behaviors, but (also) a way to help them as well.” (the condition appears to be treatable with medication)

Common triggers for Fars included the sound of crinkling tin foil, a metal spoon clanging against a ceramic feeding bowl, chinking or tapping of glass, the rustling of paper or plastic bags, tapping on a computer keyboard or clicking a mouse, jangling of coins or keys , the hammering of a nail and even the clicking of an owner’s tongue.


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