What is Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome?
Just like humans, cats can suffer from a wide range of health conditions. While some of these are common and easy to treat, others are rare and can be difficult to diagnose. One condition form which a cat may suffer is feline hyperesthesia. This is also known as rolling-skin syndrome, rippling-skin disease, and twitch-skin syndrome. Although this is sometimes difficult to diagnose, it is a treatable condition. Here is all you need to know about feline hyperesthesia.
Overview of Feline Hyperesthesia
The main symptom of feline hyperesthesia is a sensitive lower back. If a cat suffering from this condition is touched on this area of their body, it can cause them to become aggravated. You may see them salivate, vocalize, or urinate. They may also begin to scratch, bite, or lick the lower part of their back or the top of their tail. Another sign is that they may run around the house frantically for approximately 30 seconds after you have touched their lower back. Usually, such an episode passes quickly, and the cat will soon return to normal. This condition is extremely rare and it can cause cats a lot of discomfort. This is especially the case for cats who self-mutilate during an episode in an attempt to curb their feelings of discomfort. Any cat can suffer from this condition, although it is more likely to affect adult cats.
What to Do If You Suspect That Your Cat Has Feline Hyperesthesia
If you are a cat owner and these symptoms sound familiar to you, then it is possible that your cat is suffering from this condition. It is important that if you suspect that your cat has feline hyperesthesia, that you book an appointment with your vet. They will then examine your cat to check for other possible causes of the symptoms, such as an injury, a flea infestation, or a skin disorder. They will also look for orthopedic, spinal, and nerve conditions. If none of these are a cause of the symptoms, then your vet may refer you to a veterinary neurologist to check for feline hyperesthesia.
How Feline Hyperesthesia is Diagnosed
As the cause of feline hyperesthesia is unknown, there is not a specific test for this condition. However, specialists believe that it is a type of seizure disorder. The only way for them to diagnose this condition is to rule out all other causes of the episodes that a cat is experiencing. To rule out other causes, they may need to do blood tests, conduct a physical examination, and have X-rays taken. Other tests may include scans, skin scrapings, cultures, and biopsies. If these tests do not show up another condition, then the specialist may diagnose your pet with feline hyperesthesia. It is important to note that conducting all these tests can take some time while causes are ruled out. Therefore, you will not get a diagnosis of feline hyperesthesia for your cat overnight.
A Final Note on Feline Hyperesthesia
Although the cause of feline hyperesthesia is unknown, this does not mean that it is an untreatable condition. In fact, there are several methods of treatment that are commonly used by veterinarians for this condition. As many specialists believe that feline hyperesthesia is a seizure disorder, the most common treatment involves prescribing medications.
One type of medication that a vet may prescribe is anti-seizure medications, such as gabapentin and phenobarbital. Another form of medication that a vet may prescribe is anti-anxiety medications, such as Prozac or amitryptiline. A further alternative is an anti-inflammatory drug, such as prednisone. Each of these types of medication may have varying degrees of success in treating the cat and relieving the symptoms of feline hyperesthesia.
It is possible that the cat may need to use such medications in the long-term to help keep the symptoms at bay. However, it is not just about taking medication. The veterinary will also advise you to avoid touching the lower back of your cat to reduce their episodes and avoid your cat from feeling any unnecessary discomfort.
The combination of careful owner care and a managed program of medication will help most cats who suffer from feline hyperesthesia to live a normal life with very few episodes where they display symptoms of this condition.