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Old 04-18-2022, 06:27 AM
Location: Houston, TX
2,403 posts, read 5,794,154 times
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So, I have had my little Hela kitty for 10 months now. Last June I was taking my dog to daycare and there was this little black kitten in the middle of the road. I missed her, but noticed she seemed to be dragging her hind leg. I pulled over and picked her up out of the street. I took my dog to daycare and then stopped at a nearby shelter. My intention was to turn her over to them, but they said they were full and refused to take her. They did provide me with a carrier for her.

I took her to my vet to determine the extent of her injuries. Her back hips had fractures so my husband and I figured she could recover at our house. We purchased a kennel big enough for her to move about, but not big enough for her to be running or climbing around to give her hips a chance to heal.

I was surprised when our current house cat befriended her, so we decided she could stay after she was healed up.

Once she was released from kennel rest, I noticed that while she was sleeping she would have violent full body convulsions and would fall off things. They didn't happen every time she slept, but she would have 3-4 episodes a day. She never had convulsions while awake and she didn't seem disoriented while awake or after an episode.

She did have the convulsions while in the kennel, but of course she didn't fall off things. I tried for months to get video of her "episodes", but every time I got the camera she would wake up.

I finally got video and my vet said they kinda looked like seizures, so we made an appointment with a neurologist.

The neurologist asked me a few questions about the episodes and then viewed the videos. She said it was classic REM Behavioral Disorder. She said it was more common in dogs, but she has seen it in cats. She said that the drugs they usually use to treat in dogs can cause liver failure and asthma in cats. The neurologist recommended we keep her from sleeping on very high places and put pillows under the places she sleeps the most. She did say we could try melatonin, but her tone suggested that it probably wouldn't help. I did find some treats w/melatonin in them, but of course Hela doesn't like them.

Has anyone had a cat diagnosed with RBD? If so, was there something that worked for your kitty to reduce the severity or frequency of the convulsions? It isn't like it is making her quality of life bad, but it is a little disconcerting to hear her flopping about while sleeping. I have read the paperwork the neurologist gave me and it seems like it isn't a very studied disease, even in dogs.
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Old 04-19-2022, 08:40 AM
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I never heard of that! How distressing for everyone. Does your other cat react at all when it is happening? I think , if you can afford it, I'd be looking for a second opinion. Are you relatively near a teaching vet school?

What are the medications they mentioned?
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Old 04-19-2022, 01:31 PM
Location: Houston, TX
2,403 posts, read 5,794,154 times
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Medications that have been tried for REM disorder are: gabapentin, phenobarbital, clonazepam and KBr.

KBr - can cause asthma in cats and any benzodiazepine (clonazepam) may cause cause liver necrosis.

Since they aren't likely to be seizures (there is no drooling, bladder or bowel release, disorientation, no change in behavior before or after, etc), I would be wary about putting her on phenobarbital or the gabapentin.

The other cat doesn't react at all to the thrashing about, nor do the two dogs (unless she falls on them, then they get up and move into their kennels to sleep instead of in front of them).

Like I said there doesn't appear to be any detrimental effects to these episodes. I have put padding under the kitty tree, which is the highest area she can get to, and I put a high walled bed on top of the dog kennel she likes to sleep on, which cushions her during her episodes and seem to have helped prevent falling off the kennel.

The neurologist said we could try 1-3 mg of melatonin once or twice daily. The treats I found locally that have melatonin in them she doesn't like of course. I have been looking for melatonin online, but am having a hard time finding a small container to see if she likes it before I start ordering the bigger containers. So far I have only found one that is 120 pills and I would have to split the pill in half and that would be a of of pills to throw away if she didn't like them.

It would figure that my cat that loves to play fetch has a problem more common in dogs.
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Old 04-19-2022, 07:41 PM
9,390 posts, read 16,980,166 times
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Well since it's not affecting her quality of life (or yours or your other pets') I can certainly understand why you don't want to medicate or do anything else but keep her safe. I'm sure she is going to have a lovely long happy life with you!

I would only advise you to be sure to feed her a species appropriate good quality diet. This means no kibble. Feed an all wet diet and avoid a lot of fillers and artificial additives. Go raw if you can. Home made raw, even better. There are a couple of good pre-mixes available. You might even see a difference, taking her off processed diets.

Lots of kittens do play fetch, it's fairly common behavior. Some grow out of it when they become adults, some don't.
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Old 04-21-2022, 10:14 AM
Location: Houston, TX
2,403 posts, read 5,794,154 times
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I only feed my cats wet food. I also make sure that their food meets all requirements for feline nutrition and read the ingredient list of every can of food I get for them. I actually have a soy intolerance, so reading ingredients is second nature for me. I also consult with my vet about nutritional needs for each stage of all my animals lives.

As far as feeding raw I would not do that without first consulting with a board certified feline nutritionist and there are none in my area. I know, because I looked into it as a possibility for my dog that had DCM, until I finally found a grain inclusive food that didn't cause issues. I had gotten some recommendations from my vet for a virtual consultation and made an appointment, however before the appointment time we found a food that worked for my dog, so I cancelled the appointment.

Unfortunately my vet has no recommendations for this. Since it isn't a very well studied issue in animals, and I don't see much about it online either. I wish cats were as well studied as dogs.

I find the lack of scientific/medical information on cats to be frustrating at times. Even the DNA tests have a huge difference. If you look at Wisdom Panel (which I used for my cats) there are 210 health tests for the dogs and 45 for cats. Embark (which I used for my dogs) doesn't even do cats.

Even the information packets the neurologist gave me about REM behavioral disorder talked about the effects and treatments in people and dogs and only mentioned cats in the introduction paragraphs.
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