Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome

Feline hyperesthesia syndrome is mostly seen in young cats under five years of age but can affect older cats as well. Vets describe this disorder as a neurotransmitter malfunction, meaning that it is similar to the panic attacks we as humans can experience. This disorder is seen more commonly in Burmese, Siamese, Abyssinian, and Himalayan breeds.

Many of the cats who are diagnosed with feline hyperesthesia syndrome tend to excessively groom themselves to the point of mutilation. Skin twitching and tail lashing is also seen, followed by sudden bursts of activity such as darting around wildly. This behavior can range anywhere from mild skin twitching to actual seizures. There are even some cats who become aggressive during these episodes and will attack their companion pets or even their owners. Cats who exhibit signs of being under stress tend to be more at risk.

A diagnosis must be done by an MRI specialist in order to rule out physiological conditions such as epilepsy, spinal problems, and skin conditions. Medication can usually control this disorder.

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  1. I think my cat (a 4 1/2 year old female Ocicat) has this condition – in a mild form. I recently moved and she pulled out some of the hair on her lower spine – which is what got me looking at what might be wrong as she has no skin lesions/fleas, etc. She has many of the other symptoms; dilated pupils, loud meowing, some skin rippling, runs around like she’s crazy…but she’s always done that stuff.

    Until the recent stress of moving, the rest of the symptoms have never seemed to bother her – she is a happy cat, we play and cuddle often. So my questions are these: 1) once the stress resolves, will she stop with the hair pulling? and 2) is there a need to get a mild case treated? What’s the case for medicating her if she is not causing herself harm?

    Thank for you for the information and a response if you’re able!

  2. Great information, thank you! ๐Ÿ™‚