Narcolepsy And Cataplexy In Cats: What Should You Know About It?


Narcolepsy and cataplexy in cats –these are disorders, which affect the way an animal is capable to operate physically, are unusual yet well-studied nervous system disorders. The narcolepsy is characterized by lack of energy, short loss of consciousness, and excessive day sleepiness. On the other hand, cataplexy is the same as the narcolepsy, wherein the episodes are brief, reversible, and spontaneous. In this article, we will discuss some more interesting facts about narcolepsy and cataplexy in cats including its causes, symptoms, prognosis, and treatments. Read on to learn more about these!

What is Narcolepsy and Cataplexy in Cats?

Narcolepsy and cataplexy are unusual to happen in cats yet there are cases of them reported as well. A cat that has narcolepsy might suddenly fall into a deep sleep while it is standing, eating, or sitting, causing the cat to fall over or sway. Additionally, cat that’s narcoleptic may also fall asleep while it is climbing. This may case the cat to fall into the ground.

A cat that experiences a cataplectic episode, on the other hand, may excitedly run around and suddenly collapses, not able to move yet may still look around, perchance whining or meowing, fully conscious. The conditions aren’t commonly life-threatening or awfully worrisome, and may be cured with medication when diagnosed by the vet.

Moreover, a narcolepsy is a chronic brain condition, which is present in different kinds of animals, even humans. this may result from the inability of the brain to normally, as well as sufficiently control the wake-sleep cycle of the brain. This may cause the narcoleptic to experience morning tiredness and some episodes of abruptly falling in a deep sleep, frequently at an inopportune times.

The cataplexy is the same brain disorder, which may cause a loss of control in the muscle and commonly results in collapsing. This is way different than narcolepsy, nonetheless, since during a cataplectic incidence, the feline stays fully conscious, yet is not able to move. The episodes frequently occur immediately or during moments of prodigious excitement.


The causes of narcolepsy and cataplexy aren’t known definitively. Also, the conditions unusually seem to run hereditarily; most of the cases seem to be relatively sporadic, happening with no known history of the brain condition. In humans, different studies have found a link in between the low levels of hypocretin neurotransmitter and narcolepsy. The said neurotransmitter is what promotes the wakefulness of the cat.

Moreover, in humans, cataplexy may seem to be due to a low number of brain cells, which produce hypocretin. The researchers think that the low level of cells is possibly due to an immune deficiency. Very much rare, the narcolepsy and cataplexy in cats may be due to a traumatic injury in the brain. These are so rare in cats, where the vet research community hasn’t devoted so many resources in studying the illness in cats or compare it to other animal’s condition. Most of the knowledge with regards to these conditions come from the studies that are done in human and in large animals.


The narcolepsy may be much more difficult to diagnose in cats, rather than in some other animals because of the natural tendency of the cat to sleep from 13 to 18 hours every 24 hours, taking perchance more naps all over the day. Furhter, this may frequently take the pet owner to observe repeatedly the symptoms below that the cat has to cause enough concern in making an appointment to the vet.

  • Inability to move immediately or during times of excitement
  • Collapsing so suddenly due to excitement
  • Falling into a deep sleep while it is standing, eating, walking, or sitting
  • Extreme tiredness that may be hard to notice in cats.


In the event that the pet owner saw the symptoms above, causing a concern to warrant a vet appointment, the vet may likely to do these following things to help the owner in making an accurate prognosis:

  • Perform an MRI and some other scans on the brain to rule out neurological injuries or disorders or even tumors
  • Ask that you keep a journal of the time you observe the episodes happening to identify the possible triggers
  • Ask that you make a video recordings of the episodes
  • Excite the cat to attempt in causing a cataplectic episode, which you may observe
  • Observe the behavior of the cat for a longer period of time
  • Listen to the descriptions of the observed symptoms
  • Thorough physical exam of the cat

Treatments for Narcolepsy and Cataplexy in Cats

Even though narcolepsy and cataplexy might be somewhat troubling to you and your cat, they aren’t, of and in themselves, painful or life-threatening conditions for a cat. In addition, contingent on the austerity of the condition of the cat and the treatment level you’re willing to take on, the vet might simply suggest that you keep on observing the cat, in order to observe whether or not, the symptoms are starting to become more austere or frequent. They might also suggest this observation while prescribing an antidepressant medications, which may affect the brain chemistry of the cat, in order to lessen both the austerity and frequency of the attacks.


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