Feline hyperesthesia syndrome
Most of us have seen unusual footage or videos on the Internet of cats hitting themselves, licking intensely, biting a certain area of the body.
For some people, it makes them laugh a little, like a stupid animal out of its mind. Others think that the cat has nothing to do or is playing this way (the same when cats chase their tails). But this behavior is far from normal and may indicate feline hyperesthesia syndrome.
Hyperesthesia in cats – what is it?
Feline hyperesthesia syndrome (FHS) is a neurological disorder that can be called simply “self-pain”. It is a hypersensitivity to skin irritations (formerly also called rippling skin disorder).
This syndrome was first noticed back in 1980, but there is still no exact information about the origin of this disorder. The first terms or names for this disorder were “allergic dermatitis”, “atypical neurodermatitis”, “apparent neuritis”, or “skin twitch syndrome”.
The first thing you may notice with FHS in cats is when your pet shows excessive attention to itself (meaning grooming). Your cat may take a very long time to lick itself, especially in the spine, waist and tail area. Sometimes this procedure can drag on for a long time until the irritating pet destroys the skin cover until it bleeds.
Feline hyperesthesia causes
As we have said, there is no exact definition of the occurrence of this syndrome in cats. There is some scientific speculation that cats with this syndrome have problems with neurotransmitters in the brain during periods of anxiety.
We want to reassure you that this disorder is not common in the feline family. But it brings discomfort to all members of the family and the picture is not a pleasant one. The cat is under constant stress and in a state of anxiety.
Most often such cats don’t let their owners near them, and don’t allow themselves to be touched even by the closest people. The spine and tail are the most forbidden and vulnerable parts of the body.
How does a cat with hyperesthesia syndrome behave?
- First, there is increased self-care. We have already pointed out that cats with this syndrome may be so enthusiastic about licking and cleaning their coats that it can lead to trauma and unfortunate consequences.
- Second, you may notice sudden peaks in your pet’s activity. For no particular reason, the cat may race around the apartment like mad and then show unreasonable aggression afterward.
- Aggressive outbursts to family members and other pets that live with you. Your cat can sit quietly and look out the window, when suddenly something abruptly switches in his brain and it is already flying toward you to strike. Such cases happen, and more often than not, you can’t do without injuries and scratches.
- Skin twitches in the spine and lumbar region. The impression is as if someone is touching the cat and it doesn’t understand why this happens. In addition, at the same moment it may get angry and wag his tail angrily in different directions.
- Other symptoms (accompanying) are spasms of separate muscle groups, dilated pupils, the cat’s singing (loud meowing) and deep bites on the tail, the area near the anus, tearing out shreds of fur.
Does feline hyperesthesia go away?
This is a controversial question. It all depends on what the veterinarian says. First, you need to establish the exact cause of the symptoms (this can only be done by a specialist after appropriate tests). Because these symptoms may indicate other conditions like various spinal injuries, arthritis, epilepsy or cancer. This is not the whole list of diseases with similar symptoms.
Feline hyperesthesia syndrome treatment
The most important thing for you to realize is that there is no one treatment for all cats. All cases of this syndrome are unique and the process of prescribing therapy is individual.
A basic requirement for the treatment of feline hyperesthesia syndrome in cats is the elimination of stress and stressful situations in the environment in which the cat lives (if you can call that feline hyperesthesia syndrome natural treatment).
You also need to identify and remove the triggers that affect the cat and replace them with a calmer environment, provide a comfortable place to rest, and buy games and entertainment for your cat.
Depending on the complexity and course of the disease, the veterinarian may prescribe medications with different mechanisms of action. These may include the following medications – antiepileptic, anticonvulsant, and anti-inflammatory drugs. On top of that, the doctor may prescribe antidepressants and sedatives.
Today, there is a relatively new method of treating this stressful condition with pheromone therapy. This is used in stressful situations for cats and dogs.
Although specialists, veterinarians in the field of neuroscience have been able to succeed in treating many diseases related to the brain of animals. But feline hyperesthesia syndrome is still a mystery with no specific and 100% successful treatment protocol.