Levetiracetam shows promise for treatment of FARS in cats

Feline audiogenic reflex seizures (FARS) is a problem for older cats, and include myoclonic seizures (brief, shock-like jerks of a muscle or a group of muscles) in response to certain high-pitched sounds. Avoiding the high-pitched sounds is one solution. Another is suggested by a recent study.

Researchers from Davies Veterinary Group and the University College London (UCL) School of Pharmacy in the United Kingdom compared the effects of levetiracetam, a relatively novel medication proven effective in studies of people with generalized epilepsies that experience myoclonic seizures, with the much older first generation drug phenobarbital.

The researchers concluded that levetiracetam was more effective for treating cats with hallmark myoclonic seizures. The study was published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery on Dec. 21.

Fifty-seven cats diagnosed with FARS were treated with one or other drug over a 12 week period, and owners were asked to record the date, number and type of seizures, any signs of illness, side effects and changes in activity or attitude, as well as whether they thought their cat's quality of life had improved, remained the same or deteriorated since starting the medication.

All cats receiving levetiracetam showed a reduction in the number of days that they experienced myoclonic seizures by at least half. In comparison, only 3 percent of cats showed the same reduction when treated with phenobarbital.

The majority of reported side effects, such as lethargy and lack of appetite, were mild to moderate in both groups. These resolved after about two weeks in the cats treated with levetiracetam. In the phenobarbital group, side effects were relatively persistent.

Photo credit: © iStock/Basnik

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