Medication only needed until Healing is Complete

Question:
I have a 6 month old foster kitten and she has seizures of unknown origin. She has a healed fracture of her front leg and a crooked tail. Phenobarbital was prescribed twice a day but she is during well on just a night dose. Is it possible she could improve to the point of not being on any daily meds? She is a really personable kitty love bug, is starting to walk, run, jump, and do “kitten” behavior.

Dr. Nichol:
This little survivor took a major thrashing that I suspect included having her bell rung. She may have lost an argument with a motor vehicle. She’s lucky to be alive.

Head injuries can cause serious concussions that may involve bleeding inside the skull, often resulting in a subdural hematoma. Seizures are not unusual, occurring in 54% of people following head trauma.  To prevent further brain injury seizures must be controlled ASAP. Your veterinarian did the right thing to start anticonvulsant therapy.

With your kitten’s improved athleticism and playful behavior it’s clear that her brain is healing. When she’s been seizure-free for at least a few weeks it should be safe to gradually stop treatment. If the seizures reoccur you will know that she needs to return to her original dose. Your good veterinarian should be consulted for an appropriate tapering schedule.

While this kid’s future is starting to look bright there is a small risk that reducing her phenobarbital dose could backfire in a bigger way. If she has three or more convulsions in one day they would be called cluster seizures. The term status epilepticus is used for a series of multiple seizures, one after the next, without a return to consciousness in between-an even bigger problem.

Either of these events would be considered a medical emergency. Severe brain injury and internal organ damage could result if they are not controlled within minutes. You can be prepared to rescue the situation at home. Prior to reducing your kitten’s medication ask your veterinarian to supply you with injectable diazepam (Valium) for rectal administration. It’s faster and more effective than the oral route and, during a seizure, it’s a lot safer giving it in the end without teeth.