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Shaking cat.

Species: Cat
Breed: tortiseshell
Age: 11-15 years
My cat, Misty will be 14 in Aug. The only problems she’s had until recently have been some ‘extra’ scratching (allergies?), also numerous sneezing at beginning of spring & fall, & when I got her at 7-8 wks. old she had a cold that was treated. Several yrs. ago, I’d noticed when she was ‘positioned’ for the #2 in the litter box, numerous times nothing would be there so I’d started her on higher fiber (dry) cat food.
My question mainly has to do with my cat’s shaking / trembling.
Abt. 1 ½ yrs. ago, I’d started seeing her head shaking every now & then; I continued to mention this to the vet & she would either say “I don’t know”, shrug her shoulders, or just ‘avoid’ the question.
Misty was diagnosed 2/19/13 as being diabetic; had noticed her drinking, peeing A LOT, was never overweight – (most she weighed was last fall was 8.2 lbs). She had also not been playing, seemed sluggish. I asked this same vet if this is why she’d been shaking/trembling and she ‘suddenly’ said “yes”. (I found her ‘sudden’ answer suspicious).
I was also told by this vet/her staff to give Misty some Karo.
(After trying both Lantus and also a diabetic – prescript. diab. cat food & neither seemed to work very well – she had diarrhea & would then throw up while on diab. food, the same vet said “I just don’t know what to do” – so I changed vets.)
I’ve been taking Misty to another vet; her put her back on the Lantus at only ½ unit to start, once/day & she’s now up to 1 unit in a.m., ½ in p.m. & showed me how to test her at home to check her Glucose level.
I found out that Misty’s shaking doesn’t seem to be from her Gluc. level. She’s continuing to shake/tremor – more often, and many times you can tell it is her whole body. She will still walk around, a little, or turn over on her side, and you can definitely see that all her legs are also shaking. These times can last 10-15 sec. to 15-20 minutes.
Many times, I’ve just happened to have tested her Gluc. & it was anywhere from 200-High.
I have also asked her newer vet a couple times about the shaking and again, am not getting an answer as to what it could be – I’m thinking something neurological, but it seems like vets don’t want to answer it.
Misty did have an ultrasound on 5/17 and there was a cyst on her pancreas; she’s scheduled for another partial US on 6/17.
She is back on regular dry cat food & also canned food, but still has some diarrhea/looser stools w/blood/mucus in it – was diagnosed as colitis
Her wt. is now down to 5.15. (She’s also on Mirtazipine to ‘boost’ her appetite). She seems to want to play at times, but really hasn’t since a short while before being diagnosed w/diabetes. Am not sure if it’s because she’s ‘trembling’ so much & more often, or her gluc. level.still not always being stable. Her trembling used to be just every once in a great while. Now it’s a pretty regular thing – a day or 2 may go by when you don’t see her ‘shaking’, but you can easily spot it (3-4 x’s/day) on a pretty regular basis – at times from a 10-12 ft distance.
I realize you can’t give any definite answer, but re: her shaking so often,are there things I need to be watching for or ask the vet to do? Thank you. (sorry this was so long)

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Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

It sounds like Misty has really gone through a lot lately.

The shaking is definitely not something that we would commonly see in cats. From what you have described I would wonder if these are seizures. Unfortunately though there really isn't any way to tell.

In theory, there could have been a connection between the shaking and the diabetes. Cats with diabetes can have wild swings in blood glucose. If the glucose swung down too low it could cause hypoglycemia which could cause a mild seizure. However, it sounds like you are not seeing low blood sugar levels so this is probably not the reason for the shaking.

Is this connected to the diabetes and pancreas issues? It is hard to say. There could be a connection. If the cyst on the pancreas actually turns out to be a cancer then it is possible that there is also cancer in the brain. This can cause regular seizures throughout the day. However, my experience with pancreatic cancer in cats tells me that Misty should be much sicker if this is what she had. On the other hand, a pancreatic cancer could be the reason for her blood sugar levels not stabilizing with Lantus. Most cats do very well with Lantus.

If this were my case I may consider a trial of a few weeks of an anti-seizure medication like phenobarbital to see if this helps. However, I am concerned because if I am seeing seizures in a senior cat I am not usually very successful at treating them.

There are other possible causes for seizures such as things like FIP or feline leukemia but these would be less likely at her age.

I wish I had a more concrete answer for you. If Misty were a human she would likely have a brain MRI or CT scan. These are available for cats but very expensive.

It does sound like you are in good hands with the vet care that you are receiving. I hope that you get some answers (and hopefully good ones) soon.

Dr. Marie.



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Customer reply:

Yeah, Misty really has been going through a lot. Had actually wondered about seizures myself because I've had them for decades although don't anymore. Yet you mostly see grand mal seiz. described in seizures for cats.
Your reply was truly appreciated & helpful Thank you so much!


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

You're very welcome. Thank you very much for the generous bonus. I really hope things work out ok for Misty.

Dr. Marie.


Have you tried the Purr Pillow? This is one of Dr. Marie's top recommended pet products for 2016.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

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