U.K. researchers searching for pattern to explain sound-induced seizures in some cats

A feline charity in the U.K. is receiving increasing reports regarding cats that fall into seizures when they hear common sounds such as a computer mouse clicking or the rustling of a newspaper.

According to the Telegraph, the spate of reports that International Cat Care (ICC) has been receiving has piqued the curiosity of researchers and veterinarians who wonder whether the noise-induced seizures are a new affliction, or if the phenomenon has been occurring for some time without being recognized as a widespread phenomenon.

Some of the everyday sounds identified by reporting parties as seizure triggers for certain cats include: 

  • Rustling of a newspaper
  • Cracking of a hard-boiled egg
  • Clicking of a computer mouse
  • Sound of a cat food can being opened
  • Popping of pills from blister packs

Symptoms reported by cat owners include jumpiness, sudden freezing, convulsions, loss of balance, and running around in circles, the Telegraph reported.

As ICC collects the reports, the organization is forwarding the information to Davies Veterinary Specialists, which is collaborating with researchers from the University College London to uncover an explanation for the recent rash of reported seizures.

Dr. Mark Lowrie, who works at Davies Veterinary Specialists, said he and his colleagues are investigating whether there is a pattern to be found within the reported seizures.

"We want to see if other vets and owners are aware of the pattern. It could be they haven't even associated these fits with noise. I'm sure that a pattern will emerge," Lowrie told the Telegraph. "It doesn't seem to be occurring at times of stress. It is often when the cats are being fed - which is probably one of their happier times of the day."

Researchers looking at the case believe the seizures are similar to reflex epilepsy in humans, and that discoveries made in their investigation might someday benefit humans with similar conditions, the news reported.