Eclampsia is the sudden onset of clinical signs associated with low blood calcium levels (hypocalcemia) that occur in lactating (nursing) queens. It is caused by loss of calcium in the milk and is often combined with poor dietary calcium intake. This condition is different from eclampsia in women, which is related to blood pressure abnormalities prior to birth.
Eclampsia is uncommon in the cat and can have very different clinical signs than in the dog.
Predisposing Factors for Eclampsia in Cats
What to Watch For
Diagnosis of Eclampsia in Cats
It is important to note that weakness, collapse and high body temperature may be the only signs exhibited by cats with eclampsia and the disease can be easy to miss. The history and clinical signs may create a suspicion of eclampsia. A biochemical profile confirms hypocalcemia. Total serum calcium is usually less than 7 mg/dl. Low blood sugar may also be noted (hypoglycemia). Rapid response to treatment with intravenous calcium helps to confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment of Eclampsia in Cats
Cats with eclampsia usually require immediate emergency care. The definitive treatment involves returning blood calcium levels to normal and decreasing calcium loss from the body, which may include weaning and hand feeding the kittens. Treatment may include:
The best way to prevent eclampsia is to feed the pregnant queen a well-balanced, good quality food during pregnancy and to provide adequate nutrition during the nursing period. Calcium supplementation during the pregnancy should be avoided. Supplementation of the queen with calcium may be helpful once the kittens are delivered and are beginning to nurse. Supplemental feeding of the kittens may also be beneficial, especially for large litters.