Can Cats Outgrow Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome?

CatChannel veterinary expert, Arnold Plotnick, DVM, explains symptoms and treatments for this cat health problem.

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Q: My 7 year old neutered male Siamese cat has feline hyperesthesia syndrome. Do you know any cats that have out grown this? He has had it for over two years.

A: Hyperesthesia syndrome, sometimes referred to as “rolling skin syndrome,” is a problem in cats that can cause twitching of the skin (especially around the base of the tail), vocalizing, excessive grooming, sudden jerking, and running around as if being chased. Affected cats can also self-mutilate, which can cause hair loss or severe skin irritation or injury. Siamese, Burmese, Himalayans and Abyssinians are the most commonly affected breeds.

I have had success controlling this problem in cats with anti-obsessional drugs, such as fluoxetine, and with anticonvulsant drugs such as phenobarbital. But I have not seen cats outgrow this behavior, and in the cases where I’ve tried to wean the cat off of their medication, or where the clients stopped giving the drugs on their own, the symptoms usually return. But, as long as you administer the medication, most cats’ symptoms remain well-controlled, and side effects of the long-term use of these drugs are minimal.

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Reader Comments

Heide    International

1/26/2014 7:19:37 PM

Feline Hyperesthesia is not a "glamor" disease that "doesn't exist". My boy has been on Advantage and Frontline Plus for his whole life (not at the same time) and it did nothing for his seizures. If your cat was misdiagnosed? Well of course. You have to rule things out. We have fed only holistic foods and no grain/by-product foods since he was born. No good allergies or sensitivity either..

He still has horrible seizures that are not controlled any other way than by medications. This disorder is neurological and should not be taken lightly. There are cats who have passed from severe enough seizures. This disorder is not well known nor studied enough.

jules    International

7/11/2013 11:53:27 PM

Sylvi, could you please write why you stopped giving yogurt to your cat? I believe that my cat is suffering from hypersthesia. It became worse yesterday, and I am probably taking him to the vet today. But, since he likes yogurt, I would like to know if that is somehow related to this disease and if I should also stop feeding him yogurt. Thanx!

sylvi    International

1/20/2013 8:53:26 AM

my cat suffered from hyperesthesia and she is fine now. First we took the collar of her neck, then we stopped feeding her yogurt which she loved. Try this and maybe add vitamin treats and hopefully your cat will also outgrow this terrible disease. No meds, no anti depressants.

Jamie Roth    Ojai, CA

8/23/2012 8:18:10 PM

I thought my cat had Hyperesthesia for many months. My cousin is a vet. She emailed me recently, after attending a large veterinary seminar, The information saved my cats life. It turns out that the veter. Community believes that Hyperesthesia may not even exist; that these symptoms are a result of ALLERGIES. It turns out, she was right. My cat, Bodhi had a flea allergy. It was giving her seizures, skin rolling etc. After treating her with Advantage the seizures nd skin rolling STOPPED. She is now a healthy, happy cat again. It is nothing less than a miracle and I am soooo grateful.

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