Eclampsia (milk fever, puerperal tetany) in Cats

 Eclampsia (milk fever) in cats

Also known as milk fever or puerperal tetany, eclampsia is a serious, life-threatening condition which occurs in late pregnancy or birth as a result of blood calcium levels becoming dangerously depleted, leading to hypocalcemia.

If you suspect your cat has eclampsia, immediate veterinary attention is essential. Eclampsia can quickly lead to death.

What causes eclampsia in cats?

  • Poor or insufficient diet in the pregnant and lactating queen.
  • Poor uptake of calcium by the digestive system.
  • Calcium loss due to lactation.

Eclampsia is most commonly seen four weeks after delivery although it can happen earlier or later than this.

What are the symptoms of milk fever in cats?

  • Restlessness
  • Neuromuscular irritability such as nervousness, whiskers twitching, facial rubbing, tetany (involuntary muscle contractions)
  • Lethargy
  • Stiff legged gait
  • Panting
  • Increased respiration rate
  • Anorexia (loss of appetite)
  • Fever
  • Convulsions

How is milk fever diagnosed?

Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical examination of your cat and obtain a medical history from you. Baseline tests including biochemical profile which will reveal lower than normal calcium levels. That along with a recent history of pregnancy/birth will provide a diagnosis of eclampsia in your cat.

How is it milk fever treated in cats?


Slow intravenous administration of calcium gluconate.


  • Vitamin D assists in the absorption of calcium, and therefore may also be given.
  • Once the cat has stabilised, oral administration of calcium gluconate.
  • ECG to check for cardiac abnormalities

Preventing eclampsia:

Provide your pregnant cat with a good quality, commercial diet. Supplementing with dietary calcium is not necessary and may, in fact, lead to eclampsia. Supplementing with dietary calcium after the birth may be necessary, speak to your veterinarian before you include any dietary supplements to make sure it’s safe.

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