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Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome

November 15 2022

Feline hyperesthesia syndrome—which is also sometimes called twitchy cat disease—is a rather unique issue that we occasionally see in kitties. This condition is characterized by hypersensitivity of the skin, usually on Fluffy’s back. A local veterinarian offers some information in this article. 


There are actually quite a few potential causes of feline hyperesthesia syndrome. Skin problems, such as allergies, are one of the most common ones. However, this condition can also be caused by neurological issues, such as seizures or nerve pain. Food sensitivity is another potential culprit. It may also be a psychological issue, as it has been linked to anxiety, stress, compulsive behavior, and even attention seeking. 


Fluffy can’t tell you what is going on with her, so it’s good to know what to look for. One red flag to look for is twitching or rippling skin on your cat’s back. Other red flags include excessive and/or unusual meowing, dilated pupils, frantic jumping and running, drooling, scratching, tail chasing, and excessive sleepiness. We know, some of these things are normal ‘zoomy’ behavior, however, cats with feline hyperesthesia aren’t going to seem playful or silly. Your feline pal may also bite or lick herself, particularly on her flanks, lower back, rear paws, bottom, and/or tail. She might also seem to feel pain or discomfort when being petted or held. Contact your vet if you notice any of these issues in your feline buddy.


Feline hyperesthesia is usually seen in kitties that are under seven years old. In fact,, the average age at onset is just one year old. Breed may also play a role. For instance, Abyssinian, Burmese, Persian, and Siamese kitties seem to be particularly prone.


The good news is that feline hyperesthesia syndrome isn’t fatal. However, it can severely impact Fluffy’s quality of life. If you see any of the warning signs, contact your vet immediately. Mild cases can often be scheduled as regular appointments. However, severe episodes would warrant immediate emergency care. Either way, your vet will need to run some tests to determine if your furry buddy does indeed have feline hyperesthesia syndrome. It’s also important to identify or rule out other possible issues, as there are several medical conditions which can cause similar symptoms. These include parasites, allergies, spinal arthritis, intervertebral disc extrusions, skin problems, and fungal infections. As far as treatment goes, medication is often successful. Just keep in mind that some cats respond differently than others. Your vet may also recommend behavioral counseling and/or environmental changes.

Do you have questions about your pet’s health or care? Contact us today!

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