Cats suffering from 'Tom and Jerry' syndrome
Vets warn of a new phenomenon whereby cats suffer seizures triggered by everyday sounds around the house, like the clicking of a computer mouse or the tapping of a boiled egg
If you ever irritated by the sound of your spouse crinkling a packet of crisps, or rustling with a newspaper, then spare a thought for your cat.
Vets are investigating an apparently new phenomenon whereby pet cats are suffering seizures triggered by everyday sounds around the house.
As well as the sounds of newspapers and crisps packets, the animals have also been observed having the reaction to the clicking of a computer mouse, the tapping of a boiled egg and even the sound of a tin of cat food being opened.
The bizarre phenomenon - likened to the cartoon Tom and Jerry - has also been triggered by the popping of pills from blister packs, the dropping of metal items on tiled floors or ceramic bowls and the hammering of nails, as well as the sounds of owners slapping their foreheads or clicking their tongues.
The new research began after International Cat Care (ICC), a feline charity, began receiving reports from owners across the country reporting the strange behaviour in their pets.
The seizures in cats do not appear to be related to volume, because many of the “trigger sounds” are relatively quiet. The noises do not appear to be particularly unexpected, either, as most are relatively familiar, such as the noise of food being opened.
Mark Lowrie, from Davies Veterinary Specialists, said: “We want to see if other vets and owners are aware of the problem. It could be they haven’t even associated these fits with noise. I’m sure that a pattern will emerge. It doesn’t seem to be occurring at times of stress. It is often when the cats are being fed – which is probably one of their happier times of the day.”
The reactions suffered by the animals are described as being similar to a fit, with the cats displaying a jerking motion. Others have less severe reactions, from being jumpy to freezing suddenly. They all recover, once the noise has stopped and the seizure ceased.
One owner reported their cat, Moochi, had seizures caused by repetitious clicking or tapping sounds, which caused him to convulse and lose control of his balance.
Another animal, Jeffrey, has fits of around a minute in length, caused by mouse clicks and the tapping of boiled eggs. Gracie suffered a similar reaction to the sound of a newspaper, which caused her to run in circles and collide with furniture. After that, she convulses.
Claire Bessant, chief executive of International Cat Care, said: “It is hard not to smile, because it does all sound rather Tom and Jerry, but it would be very nice to get to the bottom of it. People seem to be getting around it, by making sure they tip toe around their animals and try to avoid making the noise.”