Eclampsia in cats. Symptoms, causes and treatment

Eclampsia (milk fever, puerperal tetany) is a serious and life-threatening condition that occurs in female cats in late pregnancy or after delivery during lactation. Calcium levels in the blood are dangerously depleted, leading to low levels of calcium in the blood  (hypocalcemia) .

If you suspect that eclampsia is developing, prevent kittens from nursing and see a vet immediately. The clinical signs of eclampsia become evident in cats when their total calcium levels drop below 7.0 mg / dl. Eclampsia can quickly lead to death.

In this article, I will tell you what eclampsia is, causes and treatment of this disease

What is eclampsia?

The eclampsia is a deficiency of blood calcium suffering cats, ( hypocalcemia ) and occurs in the weeks following birth , but can develop before birth or during the  feeding  of kittens.

Eclampsia is usually due to an underactive parathyroid gland . 

Eclampsia occurs most often when kittens are between one and five weeks old and the mother produces the most milk.

Eclampsia is not due to a general lack of calcium; what it indicates is that the lactating cat is unable to mobilize sufficient supplies of stored calcium quickly enough to meet her metabolic needs.

Females who are good mothers, especially attentive to their kittens, seem to be more prone to eclampsia.

L os signs of eclampsia include tremors, weakness and a form of paralysis called puerperal tetany characterized by rigid limbs and inability to stand or walk.

Eclampsia is considered an immediate emergency and you should seek veterinary attention.

Causes of eclampsia in cats

  • Excessive calcium loss from the mother cat to support fetal development during pregnancy.
  • Loss of calcium due to lactation of kittens.
  • Not eating a balanced diet for growth and development during pregnancy and lactation.
  • A hormonal problem with the parathyroid gland.
  • A first litter.

Symptoms of feline eclampsia

  • Restlessness, nervousness.
  • Gasps and whimpers.
  • Rapid and heavy breathing.
  • High body temperature
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Clumsy walking and   stiff gait .
  • Muscle tremors,  tetany  (the whole body becomes rigid), seizures.
  • The cat lies down with her legs rigidly extended.
  • Dilated pupils.

Treatment in feline eclampsia

Eclampsia can be corrected by a veterinarian through the use of intravenous calcium supplements . Intravenous calcium must be administered very carefully and slowly, otherwise it can cause severe decrease in heart rate and arrhythmias.

An oral dextrose solution to raise blood sugar. Oral calcium supplements may also be prescribed along with vitamin D which aids in calcium absorption.

If there are seizures that do not respond to calcium or dextrose, anti-seizure medications such as diazepam may be necessary.

In addition, the vet may recommend feeding the kittens a milk replacer until their mother stabilizes and early weaning to reduce stress on the mother.

If diagnosed and treated promptly, recovery from eclampsia is usually quick and complete.


Ways to prevent eclampsia

Supplementation with calcium is generally not recommended in pregnant and lactating cats . Consuming too much calcium during pregnancy or while breastfeeding can suppress parathyroid hormone production and increases the risk of developing low blood calcium levels or eclampsia. The vet can indicate if your cat needs supplements.

Try to ensure that your cat’s diet has a sufficient amount of calcium and in the necessary proportion with phosphorus, especially before and during pregnancy. Provides premium commercial foods to your diet.

Finally, exclude any food that hinders the absorption of calcium. Also, make sure the diet contains  vitamin D  in the necessary amounts.


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