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Unread 12-30-2010   #1 (permalink)
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Default Unanswered: Phenobarbitol

I rescued Frankie a little kitten in July 2008 who had chronic URI despite extensive treatment. He then became epileptic which caused blindness. Over the last 2 1/2 years, he was hospitalized several times. He was put on a treatment plan with phenobarbitol twice a day which controlled his seizures for a year. Frankie gained weight and became confident enough to have the run of the house despite being blind. Recently I missed two doses of phenobarbitol, once on Sunday evening, and once on Tuesday evening. (I had run out of it on Sunday. Tuesday evening I came home very late because my mother had to go to the hospital.) Wednesday morning, he seemed fine and I gave him his usual dose that morning. Early that evening I came home to find he had passed away. He was lying on his side as if sleeping. During the last couple of months, I had not seen any signs of seizures. My vet said that missing the two doses of phenobarbitol did not cause his passing. He said phenobarbitol has a residual effect in the body especially after being used for a long time. Instead, he said Frankie's death was probably due to a heart attack, stroke, or something else such as URI that had caused his seizures in the first place. Any input or insight from anyone with experience with epileptic cats would be appreciated.
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Unread 12-31-2010   #2 (permalink)
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Oh my gosh, I am so sorry for your loss of your beloved Frankie.

I agree with your vet that the phenobarbital missed doses had nothing to do with his untimely death. Often sudden death in a young cat like that is due to a faulty heart condition that can go undiagnosed, called HCM. (I am not a vet)

It also could have been neurological in nature, it sounds to me like your Frankie had a lot going on, I've never heard of seizures in cats causing blindness, there could have been a tumor on his brain causing the seizures, blindness and his death.

Did you ever have an MRI done?

The chronic URI was most likely the herpes virus. Herpes while not curable is not fatal either. Was Frankie taking l-lysine to control the symptoms?

I have a cat who takes phenobarbital for seizures. He's been on it over 9 years now. He has missed doses now and then, by way of spitting out a pill,(and I would find it later, having no way of knowing WHEN he spit it out) and once when he was very sick I had to skip a dose.

Because Tolly has been on it so long the missed doses did not affect him adversely, meaning he did not have any break through seizures from them.

Tolly also has the herpes virus, and takes l-lysine to control it.

I rescued Tolly as a tiny kitten, it sounds like he and Frankie had a lot in common.

You gave Frankie a wonderful life though it was so short, and it does sound as if he went peacefully in his sleep.
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Unread 01-01-2011   #3 (permalink)
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Hi Gail,

Thank you so much for your reply and condolences regarding my Frankie. To give more history, he was found as a little stray kitten in July 2008. He had URI with a lot of nasal and eye discharge. Also, he was extremely hyper -- more so than a normal kitten. He was constantly wanting to scramble up on things and race around the room. Whenever we tried to put ointment in his eyes or oral antibiotics, he ferociously fought it. During July-August 2008, he was in two foster homes both of whom gave him up because they couldn't handle him. I then hospitalized him at my vet to get the URI symptoms under control.

When I brought him home is when I first observed violent convulsions. I took him back to the vet who tried to control the convulsions. Then Frankie became very lethargic. This was in September 2008. My vet was trying various meds with him to no avail and recommended euthanizing him. Then the vet tried clindamycin which Frankie responded to. He came back home but later that fall, the violent seizures came back. After that, he was hospitalized for over 2 months and recovered. During his hospitalization, the vet did extensive tests and bloodwork but never found a diagnosis. The vet did tell me he was blind. A liver shunt was ruled out because his liver values looked normal. I did not have an MRI done. During the fall of 2008, he recovered and came back home. Over the next few months, he had a couple of relapses and had to be hospitalized but for shorter periods of time.

During 2009 he seemed to have stabilized. In December 2009, I was studying for a demanding exam and foolishly missed some doses of phenobarbital, resulting in seizures so violent that he badly scratched the inside of his back legs. He was hospitalized over the holidays and recovered. The first few months of 2010 went well until my vet's office by mistake did a phenobarbital refill for too strong a pill. Frankie had pheno toxicity and had to be hospitalized again.

The remainder of this year went well until 12/29/10 when he seemed to have drifted to sleep permanently. There were no signs of seizures but he seemed to have become more lethargic during the last couple of months. (His current pheno prescription was correct and he had been on it for most of the year.) I frequently had him on amoxycillin for recurring URI. I know he had been hospitalized a lot but the vet staff doted on him and he loved it there. He was almost a mascot there. During the last 2 1/2 years, he gained weight and had the run of my house. He was loving and affectionate and had a good quality of life.

I'll never know if he had a brain tumor because no MRI was done. If he had toxoplasmosis, it seems that the clindamycin given him in 2008 would have cleared that up. Another possibility my vet suggested was dry FIP which can cause seizures and blindness. My vet said Frankie's passing was probably due to the underlying ailment that caused his seizures and not to a couple of recent missed doses of pheno. He did seem to be declining during the last couple of months. There were several times I would come home and find him lying on his side; I would pet him and he would wake up. I understand that both a brain tumor and dry FIP can gradually kill a cat over a period of years. I will always miss and love my little Frankie.
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Unread 01-02-2011   #4 (permalink)
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I am very sorry for your loss of frankie....your a good person to rescue a kitten with health issues....could have been an underlying heart issue like on of mine died suddenly at a year from cardiomyopathy.....my condolenses to you........
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