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Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome

November 15, 2022

Feline hyperesthesia syndrome, also known as rolling skin syndrome and twitchy cat disease, is a rather unique issue that we sometimes see in our feline friends. The condition is characterized by hypersensitivity of the skin, usually on the back. A local vet offers some information in this article.


Fluffy can’t tell you what is going on with her, so you need to know what to look for. You may see twitching or rippling skin on your pet’s back. Other red flags include dilated pupils, excessive and/or unusual meowing, jumping and running frantically, drooling, tail chasing, scratching, and excessive sleepiness. Your kitty may also bite or lick herself, particularly on her flanks, lower back, rear paws, bottom, and/or tail. She may also seem to feel discomfort or pain when being petted or held. Contact your vet if you notice any of these issues in your feline buddy.


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


Feline hyperesthesia is most common in cats that are younger than seven years old. However, the average age at onset is just one year old. Breed may also play a role. For instance, Abyssinian, Burmese, Persian, and Siamese kitties are particularly prone to this condition.


While feline hyperesthesia syndrome isn’t fatal, it can still affect Fluffy’s quality of life. If you know or suspect that your kitty is afflicted, contact your vet immediately. A mild case can be scheduled as an appointment. However, severe episodes would warrant immediate emergency care.

The good news is that there are treatments available. Your vet will need to do some tests to determine if Fluffy does have feline hyperesthesia syndrome. It’s also important to identify and rule out other issues, as several medical conditions can cause similar problems. These include parasites, allergies, spinal arthritis, intervertebral disc extrusions, skin problems, and fungal infections. As far as treatment, medication is often successful, though some cats respond differently than others. Your vet may also recommend behavioral counseling and/or environmental changes.

Our Advice on Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome

What are the signs of feline hyperesthesia syndrome?

Signs of feline hyperesthesia syndrome include twitching or rippling skin, dilated pupils, excessive meowing, frantic behavior, drooling, tail chasing, scratching, and sensitivity to touch. Contact your vet if you notice these in your cat.

What are the potential causes of feline hyperesthesia syndrome?

Potential causes of feline hyperesthesia syndrome include skin problems, neurological issues, psychological factors, and food sensitivity. It is crucial to seek guidance from your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis.

What are the risks associated with feline hyperesthesia syndrome in terms of age and breed?

Feline hyperesthesia syndrome is more common in cats under seven, with an average onset age of around one year. Certain breeds like Abyssinian, Burmese, Persian, and Siamese may be more prone to it.

How is feline hyperesthesia syndrome treated, and what tests are involved?

Feline hyperesthesia syndrome can be treated with medication, behavioral counseling, and environmental changes. Tests are needed to diagnose and rule out other conditions, including blood tests, skin exams, and neurological assessments. Treatment effectiveness can vary among cats.

What other medical conditions should be ruled out before diagnosing feline hyperesthesia syndrome?

Before diagnosing feline hyperesthesia syndrome, it’s essential to rule out other medical conditions such as parasites, allergies, spinal arthritis, intervertebral disc extrusions, skin problems, and fungal infections. An extensive assessment is required to guarantee a precise diagnosis.

Do you have questions about your kitty’s health or care? Contact us, your local animal clinic in Waterdown, ON!

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