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Stopping Phenobarbital

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
i have an almost 3 year old (marvin) who has been on phenobarbital since about 6-7 months of age. marvin's seizures began the day after his neuter surgery. after many tests and an ultrasound (to rule out disease, parasites, liver shunt), he was diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy and prescribed phenobarbital.

marvin's seizure activity in the beginning was pretty frequent, often having 'cluster' seizures over a short span of time. once we started the phenobarb, he went about 3-4 months where he would average just a few seizures per month, but obviously decreasing in number and severity. in time, he could go months without a seizure, then maybe have one isolated event.

as of today, it's been 15 months since his last seizure (yay! ). at the 12 month point, we were told we could start very SLOWLY weaning him off of the meds (lowering it by 1/4 each 6 months) . he started at 12 mg 2x day in the beginning, lowered to 8 mg 2x day in november 2009 (still no seizures!), and in may we can take it down to 4 mg 2x day, etc. hopefully the end result will be no pills!!

has anyone here ever had a cat that was 'cured' of idiopathic epilepsy and stopped the use of phenobarbital?

i've been so hopeful and excited about the prospect of pill-less days for my li'l boy (and his li'l liver), and also for my bf and i who, for the past 2+ years have planned our days around being home at 8:00 am and 8:00 pm to pill marvin (who takes them like a champ, btw). even travelling away overnight involves a catsitter, which we would love to do away with. primarily though, my concern is for marvin's health and the effects of long term phenobarbital use on his liver.

i guess i'm hoping that there are other success stories out there. i realize that seizures in such a young cat many times doesn't bode well for a long healthy life, but everything seems to be going in the right direction here right now. with a good diet and tons of love, he seems as healthy as any cat i've ever seen.
post #2 of 16
I was hoping someone else would come along to be able to answer for you! I have a foster kitty on Pheno, however, she will be on it for life. Her seizures are, best guess, genetically caused. She drew the "short stick" in life.

I do feel for you on how it's a pain to make your life revolve around the cat's meds....the things we do for them!
post #3 of 16
I know of cats on low controller doses, but none that came completely off it - sorry, hopefully someone else can help, but even if he needs to stay on a smaller dose for life, its still a great improvement
post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by white cat lover View Post
I do feel for you on how it's a pain to make your life revolve around the cat's meds....the things we do for them!
yeah, the things we do! it's an amazing feat on their part, that we (the most advanced species, indeed) do everything for them, even alter our lives for their care.... AND WE LOVE AND CHERISH OUR SERVITUDE!

Quote:
Originally Posted by icklemiss21 View Post
even if he needs to stay on a smaller dose for life, its still a great improvement
absolutely! i'm thrilled that it's taking less medicine to keep him seizure-free, and if this is as good as it gets, then so be it. i guess i'm still hopeful that his seizures were caused by a condition that no longer exists in him. like maybe it was a) anesthesia related (due to the timing of it all), or b) his terrible condition during kittenhood (he was a bone-thin little stray with a pretty severe earmite infestation and digestive issues (took months to get a solid poop out of him). i guess only time will tell.
post #5 of 16
One of my kitties, who has a lot of CNS problems (bless her heart), started having seizures when she was sick with pancreatitis (probably from the stress of being that ill and being hospitalized). She was on phenobard for about 2 months, no seizures, and then we weaned her off of it. No problems, and no seizure activity since. I know it's not as long term as your kitty, but it worked for mine.

Seizures are caused by electrical activity bouncing back and forth between the two hemispheres. If the brain has adequent time to recover and heal and straighten itself out, perhaps it can essentially cure itself...

Good luck!

Okie
post #6 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by icklemiss21 View Post
I know of cats on low controller doses, but none that came completely off it - sorry, hopefully someone else can help, but even if he needs to stay on a smaller dose for life, its still a great improvement
The above is my experience ... Though my vet has had a few patients but they had Not a true epilepsy causing the seizures ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Okie89 View Post
One of my kitties, who has a lot of CNS problems (bless her heart), started having seizures when she was sick with pancreatitis (probably from the stress of being that ill and being hospitalized). She was on phenobard for about 2 months, no seizures, and then we weaned her off of it. No problems, and no seizure activity since. I know it's not as long term as your kitty, but it worked for mine.

Seizures are caused by electrical activity bouncing back and forth between the two hemispheres. If the brain has adequent time to recover and heal and straighten itself out, perhaps it can essentially cure itself...

Good luck!

Okie
Seizures are caused by a Variety of ailment s , and yes can be cured if the issue at hand is not a true CNS or PNS issue ( ie tumor), seldom are CNS or PNS ones cured ... Unfortunately I live with seizure activity and have dealt with it in my own animals ...
post #7 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by sharky View Post
Seizures are caused by a Variety of ailment s , and yes can be cured if the issue at hand is not a true CNS or PNS issue ( ie tumor), seldom are CNS or PNS ones cured ... Unfortunately I live with seizure activity and have dealt with it in my own animals ...
True, but seeing as it's idiopathic, we don't know what caused it. Maybe it was something neurologic that finally had the time to heal. I'm not saying that is what happened, just speculating that maybe it's a possibility...

Time for research, as now I'm curious!!!

Okie
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Okie89 View Post
One of my kitties, who has a lot of CNS problems (bless her heart), started having seizures when she was sick with pancreatitis (probably from the stress of being that ill and being hospitalized). She was on phenobard for about 2 months, no seizures, and then we weaned her off of it. No problems, and no seizure activity since. I know it's not as long term as your kitty, but it worked for mine.

Okie
That's wonderful! I'm glad your kitty recovered.

I should add that the only test we chose not to do for marvin was a ct scan to eliminate the possiblity of a brain tumor. that was decided a) because we (incl vet) thought that, although never an impossiblity, it was not likely due to his very young age at that time, and b) even if a tumor were found, we would not have subjected him to brain surgery to remove it. i suppose that will always be a possiblity.

have any of you ever heard of a seizures caused by the residual effects of anesthesia? i cling to this hope, but maybe you'll tell me otherwise. my vet at the time always said 'no', but sometimes i wondered if she would even admit otherwise if true (not that if would have been her fault anyway). OR, do you think poor nutrition in a growing kitten could cause seizures? when marvin wound up on our front porch, i swear he was not much wider than his spine (hence "starvin' marvin"). who knows what he was eating at that time, but everything was going right through him and coming out as liquid on the other end. that may have been the case for the first 4 months of his life. who knows, maybe he even had a head injury (although it didn't seem so).

thanks for your replies and well wishes. we'll carry on with whatever needs to be done, but we remain hopeful!
post #9 of 16
and oh I am trying to picture a cat in a CT scan...
post #10 of 16
I've never heard of seizures from residual anesthesia; don't think it's possible.

Hope things still go smoothly!

Okie
post #11 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Okie89 View Post
I've never heard of seizures from residual anesthesia; don't think it's possible.
I can't comment for fact in cats, but in dogs there is something called an MDR1 mutation (most common in collie breeds and sight hounds). The gist of it is that there are many medications, several of which are pain meds and anesthetic related, and dogs with the MDR1 mutation lack a protein that processes out those drugs from the brain. One potential result can be seizures. Don't see why something similar couldn't happen in cats.
post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by whiteforest View Post
I can't comment for fact in cats, but in dogs there is something called an MDR1 mutation (most common in collie breeds and sight hounds). The gist of it is that there are many medications, several of which are pain meds and anesthetic related, and dogs with the MDR1 mutation lack a protein that processes out those drugs from the brain. One potential result can be seizures. Don't see why something similar couldn't happen in cats.
I've heard of the abnormalities in dogs (collie breed especially), but have never heard of this abnormalities in cats. Will do some research and see!

Okie
post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Okie89 View Post
I've heard of the abnormalities in dogs (collie breed especially), but have never heard of this abnormalities in cats. Will do some research and see!

Okie
a quick Google search landed about 5 sites ( most vet done) showing a link between some anesthetics and cats having seizures
post #14 of 16
My cat is on phenobarbital for over three weeks. She didn't have any of the common side effects until now. Is this common? She is weak sluggish and dazed out. She and barley walk. So heart broken to see her like that .
post #15 of 16

Same problem here.  I've opted to remove Sam from phenobarbital because I'd much rather deal with his minor seizures than the way he is.  I wasn't even giving the full dosage the vet had prescribed and he was lethargic, not eating (but drinking) and very wobbly.  I've weaned him off of it and he's been off of it for a week now, but still dealing with the effects.

post #16 of 16

My 10 year old cat was put on Pheno 8 months ago for FHS  shymptoms.

After all the tests were made, vet still had no clue what was the cause, and  he diagnosed her with  epi attacks. Pheno was  kind of working okay , it didn't stop the attacks completely but it reduced them. Still there were periods where she was running around, twitching ear, her back rippling a lot, chasing imaginary bugs...

Recently our vet ( who is awesome) went to  this big neurological convention, and asked experts about Zillys condition. They said FHS usually  happens because of  pressure dysfunction  in blood vessels placed in cerrebelum area of the brain, it shouldn't get worse or be fatal  and it's controlled with epi meds ( pheno, gabapentin).

VERY IMPORTANT thing while using pheno is checking the liver. Dug is  very agresive and can cause high  liver enzymes rather quickly. If this is not controlled regularly it can be fatal.

 Last liver  check up showed  high liver enzymes in my cat, and we must weave her off pheno ASAP.  I started taking off 1/6   of  2 +1/4th  10 mg the pill every week.  21 day passed by and now we're on 4/6 for  the evening and 5/6  for the morning dose. 2 days ago she stared acting weird, confused, running around, typical FHS shymptoms. Honestly  I'm not sure if its withdrawal or FHS or both. I guess i'll continue to decrease dose and if possible get her off drugs completely. Vet suggested gabapentin as replacement, but in the end all of those drugs do a lot of harm to a living organism, and result shortening life, while moderate FHS has no effect on life expectancy.  

How ever, as all of you i know how hard it its to watch your beloved family member having thins awful attacks, its hard for everyone in the family.  we will decide we will put her on other drug if  attacks will make her live quality miserable, untill then we will get her off pheno, heal her liver and observe closely together with our vet. 

 

if anyone has any suggestions about weaving off pheno, withdrawal shymptons or how  to do it right, i'd be more than thankful. 

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