OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to characterise feline audiogenic reflex seizures (FARS).
METHODS: An online questionnaire was developed to capture information from owners with cats suffering from FARS. This was collated with the medical records from the primary veterinarian. Ninety-six cats were included.
RESULTS: Myoclonic seizures were one of the cardinal signs of this syndrome (90/96), frequently occurring prior to generalised tonic-clonic seizures (GTCSs) in this population. Other features include a late onset (median 15 years) and absence seizures (6/96), with most seizures triggered by high-frequency sounds amid occasional spontaneous seizures (up to 20%). Half the population (48/96) had hearing impairment or were deaf. One-third of cats (35/96) had concurrent diseases, most likely reflecting the age distribution. Birmans were strongly represented (30/96). Levetiracetam gave good seizure control. The course of the epilepsy was non-progressive in the majority (68/96), with an improvement over time in some (23/96). Only 33/96 and 11/90 owners, respectively, felt the GTCSs and myoclonic seizures affected their cat's quality of life (QoL). Despite this, many owners (50/96) reported a slow decline in their cat's health, becoming less responsive (43/50), not jumping (41/50), becoming uncoordinated or weak in the pelvic limbs (24/50) and exhibiting dramatic weight loss (39/50). These signs were exclusively reported in cats experiencing seizures for >2 years, with 42/50 owners stating these signs affected their cat's QoL.
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: In gathering data on audiogenic seizures in cats, we have identified a new epilepsy syndrome named FARS with a geriatric onset. Further studies are warranted to investigate potential genetic predispositions to this condition.
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