This blog is for informational purposes only. Please consult with a veterinarian if your pet is ill.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome

After taking Ivy to her vet, it seems she has Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome also known as "rolling skin syndrome," and is in some ways very similar to a seizure disorder. It appears to be more common in Siamese cats, but other cases have been reported. FHS usually appears between the ages of 1-4. Unfortunately, there is very little known about this disorder, and information is difficult to find.

Symptoms of FHS:

Dilated pupils
Twitching of the tail
Appearing to be annoyed with the tail
Biting at the tip of the tail, sometimes to the point of mutilation
Behavior may change from loving, to scared and depressed
Sensitive to touch around the tail
Staring into space
Persistent, loud meowing
Dashing off madly and aimlessly around the house or yard
Rippling skin on the back just above the tail

These symptoms are not always triggered by unpleasant events, but can occur while you are petting your cat loving, or when touching your cat near the tail.

It is difficult to make conclusions as to why this disorder occurs, but it is believed by some that over-vaccinating, flea infestations, OCB, food allergy, low quality diets, preservatives and chemicals may be leading to this problem.

The vet took a blood test from which we will get the results this week to
rule out other health problems such as Thyroid, Diabetes, Cancer, Liver or Kidney disease. A health problem may be triggering these episodes.

We have switched her to either all chicken with some seafood diet of better canned brands like Wellness, Pet Guard, Innova etc. Sometimes it is a food allergy. Beef is a prime culprit in food allergies in this situation. My vet has seen dogs go into seizures from eating a rawhide beef bone.

Research has shown that a low quality diet -- meaning a diet loaded with chemicals, fillers, stabilizers, coloring agents, sodium nitrate (found to produce epileptic-like changes in the brain activity of rats who ate it regularly) and by-products -- can lead to allergies, nervousness, hypertension, diabetes, weight problems, dry skin, and many other common ailments.

Because of what goes into pet foods today and what does not, it is important to know how to read labels, and know the history of the company manufacturing the pet food.

Some pets suffer from hypoglycemia, which is a medical term meaning low blood sugar. The causes of hypoglycemia are overproduction of insulin, excessive exercise, heredity, or an inadequate diet. Some symptoms of hypoglycemia are very similar to Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome.

Symptoms of a hypoglycemic attack are:

Staggering, collapse or dashing around
Glassy eyes, dilated pupils

Because the symptoms of hypoglycemia and FHS tend to be similar, feeding structured meals is suggested. When you feed one meal a day, your pet's body produces insulin. High levels of insulin cause low levels of fat burning and high levels of fat storing, the reverse of what you may think. When insulin is not stable in the body, it throws the hormones and brain chemicals out of whack and the body starts storing fat to save itself.

Therefore, it is extremely important to feed 3~4 times a day. When you feed several small meals a day, the body burns fat more effectively, and speeds up the metabolism so your pet can burn more calories.

Ivy had fleas in spite of using flea control products so my vet asked me to use Capstar and Revolution on Ivy and all the cats in the house. Plus I have been vacuuming daily. This seems to be helping a great deal. Ivy has had only one seizure since the vet visit. I have two other cats who have severe skin issues due to flea allergies and they too have cleared up since using Capstar and Revolution.

I am also treating Ivy with a calming herbal extract with Skullcap, St. John's Wort, Calendula, Chamomile, California Poppy, Oat, Valerian two to three times a day in milk.

Homeopathic remedies Phosphorus and Belladonna also help the seizure activity lessen.

This illness is a trial and error process to find the right combination of things that keep the seizures and behavior in check. Some animals can live with minor episodes and have no other issues. I am hoping we can get Ivy to that point and soon.


Everycat said...

Very interesting post about a horrible condition - FHS is awful. I've read of cats who attack their own paws because of it, gnawing to the bone. I believe that many health problems in cats can stem from the rubbish that is put into cat foods - even the prescription ones are full to the brim with carbohydrates and soya proteins - unnacepatble to the feline metabolism and un-needed. Finding good food is difficult.

Best of luck with Ivy, I hope you can get to the bottom of the problem and help her.

debbie said...

hello...i came across your blog while searching for more information on rolling skin. i am afraid that my cat may be suffering from this as well.
it started a few nights ago - it only happens at night. she will be fine and then all of a sudden, her paws will start to twitch and she will appear very uncomfortable. then i will see "waves" going down her back. sometimes her back legs start to twitch as well.
it will last for a few minutes - she will start licking the areas that twitched and then just lay on her front paws and stare into space for a bit - almost like she is scared.
i am making a vet appointment after watching it happen again tonight.
i just hate seeing her uncomfortable, even if it is just for a few minutes.

all the best to ivy

debbie at dmbrr dot com

Anonymous said...

My cat also presented with all these symptoms, and would run around the house like his backside was on fire. It was uncontrollable, sadly he was hit by a car and passed away. I believe as a direct result of FHS. As he would walk on to the road and then stare off in to space or madly dash across the road without thinking. He never did this before.

Ryan said...

I think I am going through the exact same thing with one of my cats. It started yesterday morning and has gotten really bad since then. My wife and I took him to the vet today and they performed SEVERAL tests on him. $500 later nothing was found to be wrong with him.

He seriously acts possessed. He intensely watches the floor and is seeing things that aren't there. He bites at them and then runs away only to find them wherever he ran to. If I sit on the floor he can't wait to get into my lap and hide his face from the hallucinations. He doesn't want his tail touched at all and is twitching all over.

I'm really sad for the little guy. He is indoor only, eats California Natural food, and lives a pretty stress free life. I don't know what to do. It has come on so suddenly.

Please update with anything you find to help and I will do the same.

Cats and Dogs Naturally said...

Ryan I am sorry to hear about your cat. It does seem like he is having hallucinations. But because the disorder seems to have happened quickly it may be an environmental cause to it. I did some reading and found that some common plants can cause hallucinations and exposure to household cleaning solutions. Have you used anything different? Thyroid disorders can effect them this way but your vet must have checked your kitty for this. Acupuncture works well with FHS. Another source suggested either St. John's Wort or a combination of 2 parts Red Clover/2 parts Passion Flower/3 parts Stinging Nettles. Give a small amount of the herb or herb combination in his food to calm him. My cat Ivy responded well to flea treatment, and thyroid supplements for low thyroid. She is doing great now. Every cat with this seems to have different symptoms. I use a holistic vet - that may be a way to go. Good luck and let me know what happens.

Stephanie said...

Hey Ryan,

My cat just began to have symptoms Sunday night. She's 3 years old and just began to have symptoms like she was scared out of her mind. She's always been a very playful cat, but starting last night she began running around frantically without any reason, bolted under the covers and began panting. When I would lift the covers, she would back up underneath them like she was scared to death of me. I layed down beside her and she bolted into my arms and laid there panting and wild-eyed. All of this is unusual behavior for her and this "episode" lasted for about an hour. Then she bolted for a back room and has been in-between 2 boxes for the last 24 hours with only a few attempts at leaving. If you pick her up and bring her to you, she bolts right back to her spot.

I don't know what to do. There hasn't been much change in our lives. No food changes.. she doesn't go outside.. the only thing i can think of is the plant that she likes to play with is new. Our other cat has been perfectly fine, no changes what-so-ever.

Keep me updated on how your search goes and I'll do the same. I plan on taking her to the vet as soon as i can.

Best wishes

MELANIE said...

my cat developed FHS about 8 mos ago. it just started one night and progressed to her having an `attack' about once every hour. it was horrible. she has been on fluoxetine (which is prozac) and that has helped a lot. it has to be mixed by a pharmacy that does compounding so that Cat flavors are put in. i have been told the fish oil is the stongest for masking the medicine smell. i give it to her with her daily canned food meal. she wouldn't take it given in the liquid children's formula because she could smell it. she still has some episodes at times and so sometimes i have to up her dosage a little and i work with the vet about this. ive read a lot of websites about this and she will probably never be `cured' but her condition is at a level that seems to be tolerable-for both of us =). since it is fairly rare, the info is not very abundant but most of the sites seem to say the same things; no diagnostic test, basically no cure, treatment can include anti-depressants and/or anti-seizure meds along with other non-medicinal things to try and the cause is pretty much unknown. the fluoxetine sounds like it works well for a lot of cats. it seems to affect each cat differently tho, so i hope this helps someone. keep searching for info and working with your vet to find what may help best for your cats. oh-some of the sites said to teach your cat a new trick every so often too, & i thought this was neat and it is fun to do, for both of us.

AliMae79 said...

My cat Vito has recently started with these symptoms. It just started out of the blue one night, and has slowly over the last month, gotten to be nearly every hour. I am devistated, as the vet has tried Xanax, which initially helped, but then lost all effectiveness. Then the vet thought maybe it was a tail injury causing the behavior, and Vito underwent acupunture and chiropratics to his lower back. That helped for about 24 hours. I absolutely believe my cat has FHS. I know the vets want to rule out everything else, but I cannot afford all the testing. Every where I read the treatment varies cat to cat. I dont know what to do at this point. The vet says the next treatment is anti-seizure meds. Poor little Vito.

Cindy said...

My cat has Hyperesthesia and food allergies, which both started at the same time. I was feedin g him a very healthy raw chicken and bones diet! He woudl get lesions on his ears, mouth and nose from the allergies, and has all the symptoms above with the hyper. I now rotate his food, canned lamb, rabbit, turkey, and venison to help with the allergies: food that he has not had before. This has helped alot with the lesions. I just got back this morning from the vet about the Hyper. She suggested acupuncture! I am going to try it. The other alternatives involved drugs, which I don't even take myself or my family, so wouldn't for my cats, either!

sjmills93 said...

My Calico - Cleo - started to have these symptoms around age 2 years, which according to my vet is when these types of symptoms first begin to appear.

What triggered our vet visit was a scab on her tail, which it turned out had been self-inflicted and she had actually broken one of the small bones in her tail by biting it! I think this demonstrates the level of pain or discomfort experienced.

We had a full set of x-rays done - Cleo has a beautiful, fully-formed, perfect skeleton structure - so no issues there. Eventually through blood tests to rule out other conditions and trying various medications - she was on kitty prozac for a while - and through my vet's contact with a cat specialist in Toronto, he proscribed Gabapentin. This is a special pain drug that targets the nerve endings.

Cleo takes two pills daily - one in the morning and one at night. Some days seem especially bad and then I give her a third pill at lunch time.

I've been trying to find a more permanent solution, as I'm concerned that over time the medication will need to be increased or no longer become effective and I don't wish her to go through pain, plus I'm paying out $150 for about 150 pills.

It is also a challenge when I go away on vacation, because Cleo does not trust other humans enough to take her medication even when its been compounded with her favourite treat!

For those who don't want to try drugs - I have to say that the pain and discomfort of the condition - in my estimation - far outways the "evils" of drugs. Cleo literally screamed in pain before she was on the medication.

One other thing, my dog can tell when Cleo is about to have an episode and comes to tell me. As I said, the Gabapentin has greatly controlled the condition, but not eliminated it.

jazbar said...

I believe my cat has FHS and her tail attacking episodes were very frightening to watch. After some episodes, she may not enter a previous room and when she is ready to come into that specific room, she is very cautious as if something was in there. Some of her episodes involve hopping around side to side as if her legs were all tied together. Her tail was mutilated and her back claws were torn out. I am now awaiting her blood work from my vet to cover all the bases that I can and have gotten rid of her "low quality" food and she is eating high quality food now. She is on Amitriptyline transdermal for the time being.

N.Chiu said...

My 2yr Burmese x Persian cat had been chasing her tail, having little spasms very occasionally, so I didn't take real notice. Then two nights ago I gave her a flea treatment which she was very fidgety about so it rolled onto her shoulder & she started to lick it. I had brought her to the vet who said that brand was ok to be ingested, however since then she has been showing all these symptoms I'm reading here about FHS. It's not just for a minute or five minutes, I started timing this as I got woken up at 3:30 am by her hyperactivity, it just kept going until 6:30 am, then I tried to distract her with toys which worked for about 5 minutes. Finally, I didn't know wat else to do, yet somehow the idea just popped into my head to search for relaxing music and sounds on YouTube to play to her. There are companies which have like classical music with birds chirping & purring sounds, she has responded well to that, as well as just rainforest sounds, birds chirping sound clips. It's quit amazing she has really calmed down from this. I don't kno how long it's going to last but I'm going to try this especially when I'm working at the computer & it's relaxing music for ME too! & she just likes to sit by me. I'm thinking it's probably a combination of boredom & whatever was in that flea treatment that's exacerbating her FHS. It was so mild before, barely noticeable, then such a dramatic change of behaviour. Have also just ordered some holistic supplements which include Passionflower and Chamomile in their ingredients, as well as some essential minerals to add to her food everyday. Will let you know if that works too! - I've tried feeding her on more nutritionally balanced wellness brands, but she has been conditioned by her previous owner to LOVE Fancy Feast & won't eat anything else. Super finicky little princess.

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Cats and Dogs Naturally said...

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Loren said...

My one-year-old cat Shere Khan has recently developed FHS. It started about 5 or 6 weeks ago, when he would suddenly attack his tail for no visible reason. At first, it happened every several days. Unfortunately, beginning two days ago, he began to attack his tail very often every time he could see his tail twitch, he'd attack it. It was very disturbing. It was almost as though he thought his tail was a snake chasing him. He acted terrified, and when he attacked it, he would howl in pain and in fear at the same time. Then last night I noticed that his tail was missing fur and appeared raw, with a small amount of blood coating the tip, and I began to be quite alarmed. Then this morning, the attacks became quite ferocious. I was feeling ill and called in sick to work, and tried to sleep in a little bit. The noise of his self-mutilation woke me up. I went into the other room where he was and tried to calm him down, rubbing his head gently and massaging him between the eyes. This calmed him for a few seconds, but within a minute, he was viciously attacking himself again. Then I saw smudges of blood on the floor. I tried to calm him down again and it didn't work. He kept attacking himself. I got on the phone with the vet and explained everything. I was told to bring him in at 11 AM, and I agreed to do so. But then I walked back into the room where he was and was very alarmed to find a large pool of blood on the floor where he was hunched over. He ran to the other side of the room, stopped, and within seconds I could see another pool of blood forming. He was bleeding badly, so much so that I was afraid he would bleed to death in a matter of minutes. I put him in his carrier, called the vet back to alert them that I was coming right then and not waiting, and drove like mad to the other side of town where the vet is.

I told the vet that I believed it was FHS, and she soon agreed that it seemed the most likely thing. She asked that I return to pick him up in an hour and a half, just before they closed. She gave him a sedative and cleaned up the wounds. When I returned, she told me that he had two deep gashes, one at the tip of the tail and one higher up. She said that when she cleaned the wound, she could see the bone of the vertabrae through the wound and fears she may have to amputate. He is now resting in his carrier in a spare bathroom, wearing a large cone to prevent him from reaching his tail. I am afraid he may have to wear the cone for the rest of his life to prevent him from mutilating himself to the point of death. If I had gone to work today, I have no doubt he would have died from the blood loss.

I have been given anti-anxiety pills to give him as well as a pain-killing gel to apply inside his ears, where it can be absorbed into the blood stream. I will keep the cone on him as long as possible, and intend to upgrade his food. He had been eating Purina indoor formula dry food as well as a small cup of Friskies wet food every day. I am going to buy some bird feeders that attach to a window with suction cups to give him something to occupy his mind. I will also leave mellow music playing for him while I am at work. He and I live alone, and I understand that boredom may contribute to this disorder, so I will do everything I can to alleviate that problem. I am very worried. This seems to be a life-threatening condition.

Cats and Dogs Naturally said...

I am so sorry to here how badly your cat injured himself. My Ivy pulled all her fur off her back and was Having seizures. Finding a solution takes time but you are planning to do all the right things - food, playtime, etc. If you have a holistic vet nearby you may want to see if they have alternatives to offer for treatment. Many cats do improve with changes in their life and food. Shere is lucky to have such a caring owner. Good luck.

charleycat said...

It's so sad to see a cat hurt itself in this way. My birman, Lucy, has pemphigus foliaceus brought on by stress when she moved here three years ago (her kittens were weaned, she was desexed and put on a plane - very stressful). We have been treating her condition with homeopathic remedies and she was doing very well until an irritation developed in her tail. Now she attacks it and makes it bleed - I dip it in colloidal silver, which she doesn't mind, and everything just starts to heal over when she attacks it again. Tried putting an elizabethan collar on her but that makes her stress more :( It's a comfort of sorts to know that we're not alone with this tail-biting thing. Trying her with belladonna today as she bit it quite badly this morning. When she feels up to it I'm putting the children on 'play roster' to try and distract her.

Catmagic to all those cats suffering from this condition.

kAt said...

Hoping your Ivy is doing well! I just discovered this condition after our boy CB has suffered from it for almost all of his 11 years. His appeared after a bee sting when he was quite young and around the same time topical flea treatment...he had a severe neurological reaction to that. I think these two things created a "perfect storm" for the condition to occur, as every time he saw a bee after that, he would have an episode. Recently, though, they have been happening at random moments. I think they've been happening recently because I bought a lower quality food (we're on a tight budget), and I plan on going right back to the good stuff because of this fact.

I have posted videos of him here, in case anyone needs to see what it looks like: dot com/user/framerkat

Kolya Lynne Smith said...

Just adopted a white domestic short hair/Siamese mix on Wednesday. I've noticed symptoms of this over the last few days. Would love to talk to you to learn more about how to help her, etc. Please contact me. I'm also an Animal Reiki Master Teacher. So I'm obviously doing that right now. I'm hoping it's just from her being adopted, but she's been documented to have behavioral problems in other homes. I am not giving up on her like others.

Christine said...

Hello, my cat Charlotte is suffering these same symptoms. We found her on a farm that had saved her from a neighbor who was going to drown her and her siblings. She was taken from her mother at a very young age and as a result suckled sweaters and blankets for months.

The first signs of FHS were when she was only a few months old, the vet said that it was displaced aggression as she didn't like to be touched on her tail or just above. Then she started acting strangely, looking at her tail as if it wasn't a part of her body and then chewing on her back and suddenly attacking her tail and screaming in pain. The attacks have been lasting longer as well as the constant grooming and anxiety. I'm certain it is psychological.

I'm going to take a vid of one of her episodes and show the vet when I take her in. I can't afford a battery of tests, so I'm hopeful that a diagnosis won't be that difficult. I'm very worried about her, as well as my children if she happens to have an attack while on them. Thanks for all of the info, all the best to you and your furry friends.


Cats and Dogs Naturally said...


Other than what I said int he article about FHS, I don't know what to offer and most vets are stumped too. Many vets treat this as a seizure incident and offer calming herbs, or homeopathic remedies. It appears to be neurological in many cases. Some suggest making sure the FHS pet gets plenty of active play time to help release the excess energy and make them calmer.

I am sorry I don't have any more to offer.

Janelle said...

My Cat Oliver is showing alot of these symptoms after giving him a flea treatment which we have used before, this time it had a bad reaction. My other cat seems a little off, but she has always been less of a social butterfly then my other cat. I washed them both to get as much of the treatment off, but I think by that time it was too late and already in their system. They things I have noticed is he meows alot more then he used to, desperately wants to go outside which is weird because he is an indoor cat. He even started hiding under my sons bedding which he never did before. He was always the type to sleep on top of the sheets or on the floor. He seems to be doing better today then he was yesterday which makes me have hope that maybe he's not as bad off as I thought. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that is doesn't become too serious.

Tove Reese said...

We seem to have a nearly two yr. old Persian who has acquired fhs about 5 weeks ago sadly. He was the life of the party, sweet, affectionate, playful--especially with the female cat who was his playmate. 5 weeks ago in the middle of the night he threw up a gigantic hair all and got diarrhea for 4days and he's never been the same. On the 5th day after hair all event his diarrhea stopped but he started licking excessively his pelvic limbs, his tail and his back near his tail. We thought it might be fleas so we gave him a dose of advantage, but no relief so we ruled out fleas. I googled excessive licking and up came FHS. It fit his symptoms. We cannot afford to take hom to the vet yet due to finances so we asked him what he could recommend and he suggested some cod liver oil for his flakey skin and said to try that for 2 weeks and see if there is any relief. We've also been giving him a bath with a really mild soothing shampoo and it helps. However his personality is still on vacation sadly. He doesn't want anything to do with the female cat and he won't come upstairs with us, all he does is eat and sleep, we can't even get him to play. His pupils are not dilated and he isn't mutilating himself but his symptoms still appear to fit FHS. He hangs out in the laundry room ever since we bathed him the first time. We have him on an organic raw chicken diet and we've had him for over four months now and we had him for 3 months before it happened. Does anyone think as I do that the hair ball/diarrhea incident triggered the fhs and it stressed him out? Would finding hima new home be a good idea or would he still be the same wherever he lived? Thanks for any answers!

Tove Reese said...

Our vet is a holistic vet which we appreciate and he feels that acupuncture is helpful for FHS, has anyone else tried this for their fhs cat? I certainly cannot afford to do acupuncture if it is required more than twice a month, at $75 per session it would be cost prohibitive for us. Since this syndrome doesn't seem to be life threatening we have to do what we can to make sure our cat is comfortable until we can get him diagnosed, he is a 2 yr. old Persian purebred who was surrendered by his original owner to us 4 months ago due to neglect, twe took in Jordan and a female , coco, and he came down with what seems to be FHS about 5 weeks ago. He doesn't have seizures, doesn't mutilate himself, but his personality has gone on vacation, he doesn't want anything to do with coco, and they used to wrestle and were best friends, doesn't come upstairs anymore, licks his pelvic limbs, his back side and tail, he gets this weird look in his eyes and just seems to glaze over, then all of a sudden he'll run out of the room. He seems really uncomfortable anywhere in the house but the laundry room. He was actually sleeping in bathroom sinks, kitchen sinks and bathtubs for awhile. Now he sleeps on top of the washer on a bubbly rug. It started when he threw up a gigantic hair all for the first time since we adopted him, in the middle of the night, got diarrhea that lasted for 4 days, then the excessive licking started. We ruled out fleas. He eats an organic raw meat diet of chicken, gets cod liver oil daily for his flakey skin as suggested by our vet. We feel we're doing everything right for him nutritionally, and just wondered if anyone has actually tried acupuncture, thanks!

Jamie said...

I recently went through hell trying to figure out if my cat had HyperesthesiaHello. After months, it turns out that it was a flea allergy.
After treating with Advantage, all seizures and skin rolling have stopped. Please read the important comment from my cousin who is a dedicated, practicing Veterinarian for years.
" I recently went to a big Dermatological seminar on Hyperesthesia. The thinking in the field is that Hyperesthesia does not exist;
That the symptoms are due to ALLERGY. "
Please everyone, have your cat checked for a flea allergy, or other, before assuming they have Hyperesthesia like I did.
My cat is now being withdrawn from phenobarbital and no sign of skin rolling or seizures.
Health and Happiness!
Jaime -

Cats and Dogs Naturally said...


My cat Ivy responded well to aggressive flea treatment and has been fine since. She still pulls her fur out once in a while but not like before. Many cats may have a severe flea allergy like yours but this did not solve some owner's cat issues. Some cats still have FHS symptoms even if all the allergy problems are solved. I don't think you can say that there is no such thing as FHS just yet.

Anonymous said...

Hi all... So good to hear I'm not alone in the frustration of FHS. Bert has been battling this weird condition for about a month now. We've more or less ruled out everything else, an MRI notwithstanding, and he's still bursting into fits of licking his back end, and frantically running, spending the better portion of the day under the bed. He used to be so snuggly and chatty... I miss my big boy and I'm so worried about him.

My question is with regards to gabapentin: for those of you working with it, how long did it take for you to see results? We are on day 5 and still no change in behavior, although to be fair it's only day 3 at full dosage as we had to ease him onto it.

Thanks so much everyone!

--Bert's mom

Courtney said...

Has anyone used amitriptyline with good results? I've seen some people have success with it, but none of them have Bengals, which is what we're dealing with. We're only on day 3 with minimal change (if any, I haven't ruled out that the change I AM seeing is time of day related) and his episodes are getting worse and more prolonged to the point it's really stressing me out, which of course is not helping him, either.

Anonymous said...

If it helps at all, we just reached 2.5 weeks with Bert on gabapentin and I'm now seeing some improvement. He still exhibits the behaviours, for sure, and has his "safe spots" when an attack strikes, but he's out from under the bed and has found some of his old habits again (today was the first time in 2 months he got up on the couch to cuddle... I seriously almost cried at the idea of having my kitty back.) It's hard being patient... I just want him well.

--Bert's Mom

GrumpyPest said...

I hope my post answers Tove Reese and Bert’s mom questions.

My 7.5 year old Devon Rex Charlie started showing signs of FHS when he was 3 years old. I slowly changed his diet. He eats Wellness canned food (grain FREE) and raw food. I didn’t want him on conventional meds so at first I tried Bach Flower’s Rescue Remedy which wasn’t a great success. Someone suggested Feliway. Forget it!!! After that I tried some homeopathic pills Nervoheel. That did help for a little while. I heard of this veterinarian who gave acupuncture treatments and decided to try. Charlie had 5 treatments over a period of 2 months. During each treatment a few needles would keep falling out and of course the Vet had to put them back in and luckily CC was a good patient but still, it wasn’t easy for him and once I would get home it seemed to aggravate the condition for a little while. I decided enough was enough. And now he fears his usual Vet. But I have heard that it has helped others so maybe it’s worth trying for some of you out there..!! When I stopped the treatments she prescribed some Chinese herbs ‘San Ren Tang’ modified (1/4 tsp. every 12 hours). That worked quite well for 3 years. What a change in my little boy.. but eventually even that wasn’t enough and sadly enough I had to put him on conventional medicine. Charlie was put on gabapentin. It took a month to kick in and worked well for a year until his long time buddy passed away (August 2011) at which time he had a major flare-up. He was petrified when I left home and would hide everywhere. It was sad to see. I asked the Vet if we could switch to Clomicalm. This med also took a month to take effect and meanwhile he was being weaned off the gabapentin. He is doing okay at the moment though once in a while he still has flare-ups. It can be anything that sets him off. I try not to pet him on the back. And I know that if I wear cologne he will have an ‘episode’ that can last up to a week so it’s not only food that is the culprit with this condition.. so no more ‘smelling nice’ for me. I hope this helps!!

qshots1 from said...

I WANT MY OLD CAT BACK!! Man, what a truly trying and exhaustive ordeal these past 10 days or so have been. Only since y-day have I found out about and been learning about FHS, as both my vet and I were stumped at just what could be happening with my 12 yr. old cat Simba...and yes, unfortunately, FHS does indeed appear to be the culprit at hand. Also unfortunately, out of the many symptoms of FHS, Simba's main one is the worst one, that being the self-mutilation.
This is serious business, and yeah, I'm totally freakin' out over it, because Simba has always been the life of the party his whole life, and now, out of nowhere, comes this...and also, needless to say, because he means more than life itself to me--he's gotten me through some rough times of my own, and has always been there for me. Things have just gone from bad to extremely worse, and he's now a completely different cat.
What happened was that slowly but surely, he began viciously attacking and eating/chewing his tail away--NOT GOOD, and I REALly was trippin'. He acts like it's a totally separate and evil adversary that he's compelled to reckon with at a vicious level, and giving no quarter. It wasn't long before the end 2 in. of his tail looked like it had literally been through a meat grinder, torn through and away clean to the bones.
The height of this frenzy hit this past weekend, over Labor Day, and I couldn't get ahold of the vet...of course. But first thing Tue. morn, I got him to the vet, and he ended up amputating 4 in. off his tail, stitched it up, gave me some prednisone (sp) and some tranquilizers for him, and said that we'll have to see what happens. He's trying to rule out other possible conditions first, such as allergies, etc.
That was Tuesday...y-day, Thur., I had to go to Wal-Mart for about 20 min., which I was afraid to do but had to, and sure enough, when I got back, the stitches were gone completely, and he had completely gnarled the end to hell and back again. Sooo, back to the vet for a restitch, and as I write this at 2:20 am Fri., he's out of the anesthesia, but acting really restless, and now pacing, which I read is another symptom (great, just great), and he even seems to have a bit of ADD going's weird. No glassy eyes though, which is a plus.
He also now seems to be doing the "staring into space" thing as well. I know he's hungry, but I can't feed him yet until around 8, at which time I can also tranq him again, and hopefully--maybe--get some kind of sleep myself. I've been up for days with all this, and am a nervous wreck at this point, to be sure.
I've been reading about the use of certain anti-seizure drugs, and I was wondering: I myself have bipolar disorder (manic), and take Lamictal for it--its primary use is for seizures, but it works great at keeping things on an even, even though I haven't seen it mentioned (very few people seem to have ever heard of Lamictal), I can't help but wonder if it would work for Simba-? As with the others I've read about so far (pheno, prozac and others), Lamictal takes a while to get into your system, and you have to find the right level that works best, but once it starts working, it does definitely work.
On one hand, I'm glad to find out that there is an actual reason for all this happening, but at the same time, it's dead serious, and I'm dead-stressing out over it. I live alone, on disability, and it's always been just him and me--I'd do anything even remotely possible to help him, but I feel so close to powerless in this matter--not to mention what it's doing to him.
So anyway, that's my own current tale of woe to share, and if anybody could help with any info or thoughts concerning the Lamictal, or any other part of things, I would greatly appreciate it. Besides this blog, my email is Ty

GrumpyPest said...

qshots1, given the severity of this condition I am surprised your veterinarian hasn’t suggested putting an Elizabethan collar on Simba whenever he is left alone and while you sleep, especially after the surgery. I would suggest you try it for a few minutes here and there to get him used to it. I do this at times with Charlie when his condition is at its worse although he tolerates the collar very well, and when he’s not able to lick his paws he remains quite calm. I hope it works for your cat too. Your poor boy must be suffering a lot and for sure it’s also hard on you. Lamictal is not a drug for cats. If you read the comments above you’ll find enough info on what is recommended for our ‘buddies’. Do some research online to see which one you would prefer and talk about those meds with your vet. Good luck Ty!!

Sue Skolosdra said...

After reading about hyperesthesia I am sure my Maddie is suffering from the same. She was diagnosed with PKD back in 2008 and this is being treated as Renal Failure, which is under control and her recent blood tests last week aren’t anything to be worried about as stated by my vet.

She has been twitching her ears, rolling her back, twitching her paws for a good few weeks now as though they were wet and she was shaking something off them, she darts around the house as though something is chasing her, licking her lips and now this last week she constantly hides under the bed, something she has never done, her personality has changed SO much, she always sleeps on me throughout the night and now nothing, just hiding away under the bed all day. If I bring her downstairs she just sits in the window staring – she used to love lying in the window because it’s above the radiator, yesterday she said up for 3 hours didn’t even lie down.

I took her to the vets last Thursday showed the vet a little video which only really showed her licking herself fast and twitching her tail in anger, I did mention hyperesthesia to the vet and she dismissed it referring to it as “if a cat had lost a limb but could still feel the pain, then this would cause hyperesthesia”, so I ended up walking away with piriton as she thinks she’s itching – needless to say the piriton have done nothing so I’ve stopped giving them to her. I just want my little girl back, she looks so sad when I look into her eyes.

She is on low protein food due to the PKD could this be having some affect on her?

Sue Skolosdra said...

After reading about hyperesthesia I am sure my Maddie is suffering from the same. She was diagnosed with PKD back in 2008 and this is being treated as Renal Failure, which is under control and her recent blood tests last week aren’t anything to be worried about as stated by my vet.

She has been twitching her ears, rolling her back, twitching her paws for a good few weeks now as though they were wet and she was shaking something off them, she darts around the house as though something is chasing her, licking her lips and now this last week she constantly hides under the bed, something she has never done, her personality has changed SO much, she always sleeps on me throughout the night and now nothing, just hiding away under the bed all day. If I bring her downstairs she just sits in the window staring – she used to love lying in the window because it’s above the radiator, yesterday she said up for 3 hours didn’t even lie down.

I took her to the vets last Thursday showed the vet a little video which only really showed her licking herself fast and twitching her tail in anger, I did mention hyperesthesia to the vet and she dismissed it referring to it as “if a cat had lost a limb but could still feel the pain, then this would cause hyperesthesia”, so I ended up walking away with piriton as she thinks she’s itching – needless to say the piriton have done nothing so I’ve stopped giving them to her. I just want my little girl back, she looks so sad when I look into her eyes.

She is on low protein food due to the PKD could this be having some affect on her?

Cats and Dogs Naturally said...

Sue - I would suggest that you get a second opinion form another vet, preferably an holistic one. Yours does not sound like she knows much about FHS. I have no background to make any other suggestions. Good luck with this.

TheGeneralsmom said...

Qshots, I also take Lamictal and wonder if something similar would work for cats. Maybe as awareness of FHS rises there will be more research. I hope Simba makes it through, poor baby!
My cat, The General is just now a year old. He's always been...special, so we've paid very special attention to his food (grain free only), have structured play time, etc. We have to stop playing after about five minutes or so because he starts seriously panting. He has a serious interest in eating bits of things, plastic, paper etc. We were very careful to keep everything tidy but a few weeks ago he swallowed a sewing needle. It was a terrible experience and I'm seriously in debt but my favorite baby cat made it out. Since then he is absolutely OBSESSED with eating non-food items. There is feline PICA, OCD etc and at first I thought that might be it but he seems to be hallucinating and doing other weird things.
I wonder did anyone else notice either a gradual on-set of symptoms or symptoms that began after some physical trauma?

Anonymous said...

I have been reading everyone's problem with feline hyperesthesia and I have some really good news! I spoke with my nutritionist and she suggested 1,000 mg salmon fish oil 2 x daily plus 1 tsp Ionic Silver 2 x daily. I mix the 2 together in a schringe and then give my cat a treat. This way he associates the schringe with a treat. This releives the itching from inside out. Then daily spray his back and anywhere else you cat itches with the Silver. This relieves the itching from the outside in. She said you may need to do this for a very long time. I am more than happy to do it as it's an all natural solution instead of all the drugs my vet has suggested. I'll keep you posted as to how my cat is doing, as today's the first day.

Anonymous said...

Hi I'm Jude from Canada. I posted some info on hyperesthesia and cats. I phoned my natural health store and I mentioned she suggested 1,000 mg of pacific salmon oil twice daily, plus 2 tsp of coiadal/ionic silver twice daily. My cat has been "seening thngs" on the carpet then jumps in the air and runs to another spot - bites his tail, his hind legs and front legs. Then he licks everywhere frantically. So I tried her advice for just 2 days now. Wow! I can't tell you the difference. He is now calm, playful and I have my old cat back. I'm delighted to know I'm giving him something natural and it works so quickly and so well. I hope you give it a try!

Anonymous said...

Hi, it's Jude here again. AS I mentioned earlier about the 1,000 mg wild salmon oil and silver. I just stick a pin in the gel cap and mix it in a small container with the silver. WOW!! I'm so amazed that after 2 days all his symptoms are gone. Plus he's not running frantically and biting. The natural store suggested to do this for a couple of months and then back off to 1,000 mg oil and 1tsp of silver once a day. It sure has been an easy fix. I really hope you try this out because if I hadn't seen the change myself I would never have believed it. Hope it works for you.

Cats and Dogs Naturally said...

Jude - so glad this is working and thank you for posting here - hope it helps everyone else too. My ivy has been fine with better food, flea treatment regularly and added vitamins but will keep your suggestions in mind.

Unknown said...

Wow! Thanks for the tip Jude... I started noticing my cat with these FHS symptoms and was it was escalating... so I started researching and I found this page. I really have a feeling it is some sort of allergy she is having. So I went out and got the salmon oil and the colloidal silver and 2 days later she is calm and not licking herself like crazy! Thank you Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much to Jude for the wonderful advise here. My Maggie started this crazy behavior 2 days ago and thankfully I was available to her before she could inflict damage to herself as she was biting and pulling her hair on her upper shoulder, not her tail, as if her skin were on fire. But, Jude like I said above THANKS! I will be getting this stuff for my Maggie immediately.

Niti said...

Cats and Dogs Naturally - question for you.

Which Flea treatment do you use now?

My cat is suffering from the same thing. Again the vet ran all tests but he can't figure it out.

This all coincidently started after I applied revolution on her. Would love to know what exact treatment you are using now for your cat. And thank you again for this posting.

Cats and Dogs Naturally said...

Niti - I did not like how Revolution left a small hairless spot where applied on my cat so I now use Advantage Plus. Read one of the comments - they gave their cat salmon oil in the food and colloidal silver and it helped the FHS. I have not needed to use this but it certainly cannot hurt.

Anonymous said...

What an awesome page! My friend has been dealing with her 3 yr old male orange tabby cat "Skipper". We all thought he was a little 'special' from the start because of the staring into space and twitching. However about two weeks ago I got a frantic call in the middle of the night because he was eating his tail and having seizure like symptoms. I met her at the vet er and they just patched up the tail, the end was knawled to the bone. They gave him a pain med and a sedative (I'm not sure the names) and within 3 days the episodes were more and more severe. After my googling spree I diagnosed him with FHS. He was textbook. We took him for a follow up at his regular vet and we were armed with a cell phone video one of the episodes, I would rate the episode a 3 out of 10 in intensity. But it was at least an example. The nurse came in to redress the tail because the tape and gauze was chewed up and it fell off a few times. I pretty much told the nurse that if they do t believe in FHS or haven't even heard of it, please refer us to someone who did. Luckily, they've had one patient with FHS. We live in a small town, I never thought we could find someone remotely familiar. Our vet was fantastic. She even brushed up on FHS before even coming into the room. I even had my trusty iPad with me to show her some YouTube videos of other cats that acted the same way. Skipper has been started on kitty Prozac and pheno. He also wears his 'cone of shame' most of the day. The episodes seem less severe but he has a good amount of mini episodes. I think it's the cone more than anything that is stopping them from being intense because he can't get to his tail. He no longer has a wrapping on it but most of you who has a cat with this disorder, the tail has a mind of it's own. The tip just spasms and it seems like he feels it touch his leg or touch a random object and he treats it as an enemy. Has anyone that has gone the prescription route had better luck with gabapentin than pheno? He is being fed purina cat chow which in time will be phased out to a higher quality diet. Looking back at some of his odd behavior, I would say he's had this for a while. Constant grooming, crazy tail, twitching, running like something is after him, shaking while peeing, not using the litter box, not a happy camper when touched on the lower back and tail, and I'm sure there's others that we brushed off as normal cat behavior. I'll try to keep this updated. Any other help is appreciated.


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