July 2011 Issue

Epilepsy: Inexplicable and Scary

Some seizures can be traced to an underlying disorder, but others remain a mystery.

Whether happily playing with its favorite toy, vigorously pursuing a tiny mouse, or frantically fleeing from a dangerous predator, all of your catís activities rely on the controlled transmission of electrical signals among the billions of nerve cells (neurons) that are jammed into its little brain. In a normal cat, the transmission ó or firing ó of these signals is well controlled within the central nervous system. These neurons either fire or are inhibited from firing according to an animalís shifting needs and desires. In the brains of cats affected with the disorder known as epilepsy, however, this elegant process goes awry.

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