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Sudden sounds 'can cause cat fits'

Tuesday April 28th 2015

A mysterious condition in which older cats suffer seizures after hearing certain sounds has been investigated by a team of scientists.

Some cat owners have told vets about times when their pet has had spasms, lost consciousness or experienced episodes of "absence" when they hear certain high-pitched noises such as the chinking of a glass, the jangling of keys or the sound of coins rubbing together.

Researchers have called the syndrome feline audiogenic reflex seizures, or Fars. It is similar to a condition that affects humans, called audiogenic epilepsy, where people fall into seizures when subjected to certain noises.

Now scientists led by Mark Lowrie from vet chain Davies Veterinary Specialists have done more research into Fars.

Their study, the results of which were published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, found that the condition can affect both male and female cats which are in their second decade of life.

The team studied cases involving 96 cats that had lost consciousness, stiffened up or started to jerk when exposed to certain noises.

They found that crinkling of tin foil affected 82 cats, while a metal spoon clanging against a ceramic feeding bowl caused problems for 79 cats. Other common triggers were the chinking or tapping of glass (72 cats) and even the clicking of an owner's tongue (24 cats).

Copyright Press Association 2015