The Case of the Convulsing Cat

Our quiet breakfast was interrupted by Nala’s “distress cry” (the one that sounds like Ed McMahon’s “AYoooooo”), despite the fact that she was laying on the rug right next to us, safe and sound. This was followed immediately by Nala vomiting all over the rug.

Nala vomiting is certainly nothing out of the ordinary, especially lately. Ever since we switched her food, she’s had a bit of a setback on the hard-won, anti-vomit front. I jumped up to clean up the vomit, cursing Nala under my breath for doing it on the rug rather than 6 inches away on the hardwood floor. Nala, wisely, decided to get out of my way.

She took one tentative step and then collapsed, arms going rigid and locked, convulsing on the floor.

This only lasted a few seconds, but they were tense seconds. I didn’t know what to do. I was right there with her, petting her the whole time and stupidly repeating, “Nala, are you okay?” Anna shepherded the kids from the room, but they obviously picked up from my tone and body language (and the fact that they were being shepherded from the room) that something was up. I was surprised that the kids weren’t more upset by all of this. I assumed they didn’t understand what was going on, but Evie later quite matter-of-factly stated she thought Nala was dying, because she was “very old”.

After a short time, Nala was able to get up, after which she hid under the table for awhile, until she regained her bearings. After that I was able to coax her out, pet her, and then she returned to normal. In less than 5 minutes, you would never have known anything was wrong.

Naturally, I was a little concerned. My cat doesn’t seize every day. I couldn’t help but think this was related to the recent diagnosis of hyperthyroidism. I thought perhaps the food was not controlling it properly, and maybe things had gotten worse.

I took her to the vet, and the vet couldn’t find anything wrong with her. Everything checked out normally. Furthermore, there is no correlation between hyperthyroidism and seizures, nor were seizures a side effect of the prescription food. It is also apparently very rare for an older cat to develop seizures, other than from eating something toxic.

“Has she gotten into anything lately? Eaten anything she shouldn’t have?” the vet asked me repeatedly. “No, not as far as I know,” I answered repeatedly. I mean, there’s always the chance; she does a lot of things I don’t know about (most of them involving peeing on something). The final result was “keep an eye on her” which made me feel distinctly foolish while paying the vet bill.

This was all quite the mystery. Nala was acting totally normal, but it seemed awfully foreboding. One doesn’t just have seizures. It felt like when your car starts making a weird noise and you just ignore it and hope it goes away, even though you know it *always* means something is terribly wrong.

The next day, Nala threw up on the bathmat, consisting entirely of flower blossoms. I have to say, there are worse things than a cat who magically vomits flower blossoms, but it got me thinking: could I start a band named Magical Flower Blossom Vomit? And also, although we’ve had this flower for months, I’d caught the cat eating it only over the past week. Could that be significant?

(not my picture)

It could! The flower is a kalanchoe, and it does not agree with cats:

This plant contains components that can produce gastrointestinal irritation, as well as those that are toxic to the heart, and can seriously affect cardiac rhythm and rate.

and

Animals may develop severe weakness and cold extremities, collapse, and eventually die because of cardiac arrest.

Of course, only my cat is dumb enough to keep eating a flower that makes her sick, day after day after day. I really cannot conceive of how this cat ever could have survived in the wild. I don’t know. But I do know that the cat has neither seized, nor vomited since I moved the plant. That plant has sat in the same place since September, why did Nala suddenly decide it needed to be eaten?

Has she been chased around by screaming children one too many times? Is she trying to end it??

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2 thoughts on “The Case of the Convulsing Cat

  1. Oh Nala… our cat Koko constantly tries to eat string/pieces of plastic/that annoying Easter grass and inevitably throws it up on our bedroom floor in the perfect place for everyone to step in it. He never learns.

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  2. There is quite a large list of plants that are dangerous to pets. We seem to have, over the years accidently acquired many of these plants. Not only have we acquired those plants but also stepped on them in another way. Yes, cats never learn!

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