Tom and Jerry Syndrome - what is it and what does it do? Those are two questions that the average cat owner likely doesn't know the answer to. However, it is certainly not as fun or as entertaining as the childhood cartoon that the syndrome is named after.
Tom and Jerry Syndrome is a condition that has only recently come to light in cats due to the unique outbreak in the United Kingdom. It describes the mysterious condition in which cats in the country experience violent seizures after hearing high-pitched sounds. After receiving multiple reports from cat owners, International Cat Care, a U.K. based charity, decided to launch an investigation with veterinarians.
Not completely limited to the U.K., hundreds of cat owners around the world have reported that their cats had experienced seizures after hearing certain sounds, although it is likely many more cat owners don't realize that a particular sound might be a trigger. In a study of 96 United Kingdom cats that suffered from different types of seizures, it was found that both pedigree and non-pedigree cats are afflicted.
However, Tom and Jerry Syndrome is more common in older cats that range from ages 10 to 19. Owners have reported that the seizures were triggered by sounds such as aluminum foil crinkling, a spoon clinking against a ceramic bowl, clinking glasses, jingling keys or even the clicking of an owner's tongue.
Researchers of this new syndrome believe it is similar to reflex epilepsy in humans. They intend to conduct further tests to see if the cats afflicted have common traits and if this might have to do with some unknown genetic component. However, the researchers do believe that the seizures aren't due to stress as some cats experience seizures when a food can is being opened, which, as we all know, is one of the happiest moments of a cat's day.
Other veterinarians like Dr. Karen Becker suggest that because the afflicted cats are, for the most part, from the United Kingdom, Tom and Jerry Syndrome may suggest some sort of environmental toxicity.
For cat owners around the world, if your cat has a seizure, even a small one, it is important to contact a veterinarian right away. While it may be this mysterious Tom and Jerry Syndrome, seizures can also be caused by trauma, brain tumors, infections, cervical subluxation, immune disorders, and liver disease.