Help - Feline Hyperesthesia

tina23

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Thru process of elimination my cat has been diagnosed with feline hyperesthesia. About 2 months ago he was playing with his tail (started about a month earlier - never did it as a kitten - he's now 9) and just started ripping out his fur. I didn't notice it until he had completely stripped the last 2 inches and it was bleeding all over my bedroom. So I rushed him to the vet - they gave him a bunch of shots. 3 days later I took him to a 2nd vet because he wouldn't leave the tail alone. We amputated the damaged tip. He still wouldn't leave it alone. 3 weeks later we amputated the rest of the tail - my HUGE regret!! It still didn't help. He has to wear an e-collar 24/7 unless we are holding him. We put him down for a second and he will attack the nub of a tail that is left. Attack = bite, growl & hiss. According to my vet, our only option now is to start drugging him. She has suggested Phenobarbital or amitryptaline. Does anyone have any experience with either of these drugs or have any other drug to suggest?

I am absolutely heartbroken over all this and would really appreciate any help!!
 

strange_wings

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Member otto has a cat on pheno, though I think it's for seizures. Though on it for a different reason you can certainly PM her asking about her experiences with having a cat on it - side effects and even potential drug interactions you must always be on the look out for.
 

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BE CAREFUL BE CAREFUL BE CAREFUL.... most vets do not understand this condition and tend to over prescribe drugs that will untimately lead in the kitties demise. I speak from experience and even wrote an article about this condition for this very website years ago. Bacardi was a stray but she had strong Siamese in her and this is the breed where this disease/condition originates from. The article is here:

http://www.thecatsite.com/Health/86/...resthesia.html

They put her on every anti-anxiety drug known to the vet community and I just let them! I didn't fight, argue, I bowed to their "knowledge" and will be forever sorry that I did. The disease did not take her life, the drugs did.
 
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tina23

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Originally Posted by hissy

BE CAREFUL BE CAREFUL BE CAREFUL.... most vets do not understand this condition and tend to over prescribe drugs that will untimately lead in the kitties demise. I speak from experience and even wrote an article about this condition for this very website years ago. Bacardi was a stray but she had strong Siamese in her and this is the breed where this disease/condition originates from. The article is here:

http://www.thecatsite.com/Health/86/...resthesia.html

They put her on every anti-anxiety drug known to the vet community and I just let them! I didn't fight, argue, I bowed to their "knowledge" and will be forever sorry that I did. The disease did not take her life, the drugs did.
I read your article and it sounds very much like my Tucker. We already amputated the entire tail with no improvement. I was in absolute tears when I left him at the vets that day thinking "this is a huge mistake" and cried everyday thereafter for at least a week. I can't believe I allowed them to talk me into it. I'd rather not do any drugs at all, but what else is there??? He's living in the e-collar 24/7 and is completely depressed. He can't run or play. I don't know what to do.
If you could do it all again what would you do different?? What drug did you try that you thought was the worst? Did any help?

Thanks!
Tina
 

hissy

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Because so much is NOT known about this condition, I really couldn't answer you with any authority. I believe though, I would have found a feline specialist, not a vet, and stuck with what she did and not put Bacardi into the hands of several vets who apparently never shared notes with each other. We were advised to amputate her tail as well but decided not to after researching this condition.
 

otto

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Phenobarbital is the drug of choice I would make for a cat with FHS as badly as you describe. My Tolly has seizures that are very similar to FHS. They were diagnosed as seizures rather than FHS by a veterinary neurologist, but his episodes consisted of running around chasing an invisible bug, biting his flank, biting the floor, shaking his head rippling his back. They occured at least once every hour when he was awake, non stop, without medication.

Phenobarbital is serious medicine and not to be given lightly, but when it comes down to quality of life, I would take a life perhaps shortened by a few years by a strong medicine, than a long life of misery.

Tolly is 12 now and has been taking phenobarbital for 9 years. 15 months ago he began to show liver damage from the medicine. We reduced his dose slightly, and put him on denosyl and his numbers are now in normal range, and have been for about 7 months.

The neurologist gave him a life expectancy of 10 years. But he's still with me and happy and healthy as he can be, and episode free.

It takes time to find the lowest possible dose to control break through episodes. It took about 18 months for me to find the right dose for Tolly. When we reduced his dose last year it was scary, and he did have three small episodes about 3 weeks after cutting back, but then I found a pill under the chair so knew he had missed a dose though I didn't know when.

For me and my cats, it's all about quality of life. If phenobarbital can help your kitty, it's well worth it if...at the other end his life is shortened by a few years.

Keep us posted.
 
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tina23

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Originally Posted by otto

Phenobarbital is serious medicine and not to be given lightly, but when it comes down to quality of life, I would take a life perhaps shortened by a few years by a strong medicine, than a long life of misery.

For me and my cats, it's all about quality of life. If phenobarbital can help your kitty, it's well worth it if...at the other end his life is shortened by a few years.

Keep us posted.
I agree on the quality of life. I've been told by my vet that the first month on the pheno will be really bad - like he'd be a vegetable - until he builds a tolerance to it. That's really what scares me that he won't make it thru that. What was your experience with the original side effects?

In one way he seems to have a serious form of FHS and in others he doesn't. He does go for what's left of his tail
if we set him down without the collar on, but he is such a gentle, docile, snuggle cat and that hasn't changed. He really hasn't fought the collar - seems to know it there to help him and actually kinda freaks when he doesn't have it on (unless he's snuggling). I've been looking online for ideas of something maybe more comfortable that gives him a little more freedom since he may be in it long term - any ideas?
Did you try or do you know anyone whose had luck with herbals? No idea what but just trying to think out of the box.

By the way - my Tucker looks a lot like your Mazy only Tucker has white on his underchest, belly and feet.
 

luvmyparker

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Originally Posted by otto

My Tolly has seizures that are very similar to FHS. They were diagnosed as seizures rather than FHS by a veterinary neurologist, but his episodes consisted of running around chasing an invisible bug, biting his flank, biting the floor, shaking his head rippling his back. They occured at least once every hour when he was awake, non stop, without medication.
Its weird because Parker has those type of symptoms. He starts licking frantically, darts around for a moment, licks his paws and goes right into licking the floor...I had been wondering if its seizures that he has...but they vet thinks its just an anxiety/grooming thing.

He is on Buspirone...Has been for a while now. His grooming isn't as frequent but he still has those fits. Its so hard to tell with these symptoms.

I don't believe in drugging cats like that...but what else can you do, really? Especially if they are hurting themselves =/
 

otto

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Originally Posted by Tina23

I agree on the quality of life. I've been told by my vet that the first month on the pheno will be really bad - like he'd be a vegetable - until he builds a tolerance to it. That's really what scares me that he won't make it thru that. What was your experience with the original side effects?

In one way he seems to have a serious form of FHS and in others he doesn't. He does go for what's left of his tail
if we set him down without the collar on, but he is such a gentle, docile, snuggle cat and that hasn't changed. He really hasn't fought the collar - seems to know it there to help him and actually kinda freaks when he doesn't have it on (unless he's snuggling). I've been looking online for ideas of something maybe more comfortable that gives him a little more freedom since he may be in it long term - any ideas?
Did you try or do you know anyone whose had luck with herbals? No idea what but just trying to think out of the box.

By the way - my Tucker looks a lot like your Mazy only Tucker has white on his underchest, belly and feet.
Tolly was dopey for a few weeks. I would not call it a vegetable state. He still wanted to play but his coordination was off, and he was definitely feeling sedated.

It was hard to take, I missed him. In fact, after the first week, and he was only on a very low dose then, I did stop the meds, but the episodes were back within 3 days. Every half hour to hour, he would start chasing this invisible bug, and it was frantic, horrific. Dopey was better than that.

He ran himself ragged chasing the invisible bug, then would start biting his flank, biting the floor, rippling his back, flipping his ears. It was no life for him, so I put him back on the meds and suffered through the dopey stage.

He came back to his own self as his body adjusted to the meds. He came back to completely himself and still is.

No, I will not use herbals with my cats. Too little is known about what is safe for cats, and I won't use my cats for experimentation. Nor do I think life with an e-collar is any kind of life, but that is only my opinion.

I do know people who have managed, with milder FHS, to control it with a radical diet change. What are you feeding Tucker?

Tolly is an active boy and loves to run and play and make jokes. Tolly, my oldest at 12 years old, and 9 years on phenobarbital, is the most active cat in the house, with the exception of Queen Eva, the kitten. The phenobarbital has given Tolly a long excellent quality of life, and I couldn't be happier with it.

Originally Posted by LuvMyParker

Its weird because Parker has those type of symptoms. He starts licking frantically, darts around for a moment, licks his paws and goes right into licking the floor...I had been wondering if its seizures that he has...but they vet thinks its just an anxiety/grooming thing.

He is on Buspirone...Has been for a while now. His grooming isn't as frequent but he still has those fits. Its so hard to tell with these symptoms.

I don't believe in drugging cats like that...but what else can you do, really? Especially if they are hurting themselves =/
Sometimes medication is the only answer, in my opinion. No one wants their cats on heavy drugs. But what kind of life is it for a cat to be compelled to self destruct? We all have to make what we think are the best choices for our beloved animals.

In my opinion the medicine should control the problem almost if not completely, or it is not working. What's the point of giving it, if it isn't completely helping? I haven't heard of Buspirone, I'll have to do some reading on it. Why was this chosen for Parker?
 
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tina23

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Originally Posted by otto

I do know people who have managed, with milder FHS, to control it with a radical diet change. What are you feeding Tucker?

Tolly is an active boy and loves to run and play and make jokes. Tolly, my oldest at 12 years old, and 9 years on phenobarbital, is the most active cat in the house, with the exception of Queen Eva, the kitten. The phenobarbital has given Tolly a long excellent quality of life, and I couldn't be happier with it.


In my opinion the medicine should control the problem almost if not completely, or it is not working. What's the point of giving it, if it isn't completely helping?
I have tried a number of foods over the years but both my cats really like the Purina Natural and the new Purina SmartBlend salmon & tuna. We don't give them can food. The only people food they get is the occasional grilled chicken, tuna or deli turkey - no junk food. Although thru all this Tucker has been getting some pumpkin - we found out he loves it and it works great for hiding pills. We've tried some of the more expensive brands over the years and they don't like it.

How long had Tolly been getting the pheno when you where sure it was working? Does he have any symptoms from the pheno now? Is there no chance you can ever stop it? What dosage do you give him?

Thanks so much for all your info - I really appreciate it!!!!
Tina
 

luvmyparker

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Originally Posted by otto

In my opinion the medicine should control the problem almost if not completely, or it is not working. What's the point of giving it, if it isn't completely helping? I haven't heard of Buspirone, I'll have to do some reading on it. Why was this chosen for Parker?
It is mainly used to help eliminate inappropriate urination in cats...but they also use to to help with anxiety/stress.

They vet said he thinks Parker is a compulsive groomer (which was partially true) and he figured it may just be stress, so I was ordered to give him 5mg a day for 3 months. It did stop with the constant grooming, but as I said, he still has an "episode" at least once a day. Usually around the same time, which sort of makes me think its is a behavioral thing. From what I read though, most people give their cats 10mg a day to get a full effect. I just didn't want to up his dose without consulting the vet. It might be too late now though. He is almost at the 12 week point.

The vet also told me that Buspirone is the cheapest and "safest" drug to try. Side effects are minimal. Parker had absolutely no side effects that noticed.
 

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As otto mentioned, some people have managed mild FHS by changing the cat's diet. Jamie will be 12 at the end of the month and was diagnosed with FHS as a kitten. He had the rippling back and sometimes didn't sleep for days at a time. Extensive (and very expensive) blood allergy tests were done - IIRC the samples were sent to a lab in France that was one of the few that tested at the time. Among other things, Jamie is allergic to soy and beet pulp, both of which are in many dry foods in particular. Eliminating them from his diet, which would have been easiest to do on a strictly canned diet, which he refuses, we've managed to greatly reduce the rippling & hyperactive episodes. He seems to do best on meat and/or fish only almo nature or Applaws, which are European brands, and Ziwi Peak. There are probably a lot more options outside Europe, and a food change might be worth looking into with your vets.
 

otto

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Originally Posted by Tina23

I have tried a number of foods over the years but both my cats really like the Purina Natural and the new Purina SmartBlend salmon & tuna. We don't give them can food. The only people food they get is the occasional grilled chicken, tuna or deli turkey - no junk food. Although thru all this Tucker has been getting some pumpkin - we found out he loves it and it works great for hiding pills. We've tried some of the more expensive brands over the years and they don't like it.

How long had Tolly been getting the pheno when you where sure it was working? Does he have any symptoms from the pheno now? Is there no chance you can ever stop it? What dosage do you give him?

Thanks so much for all your info - I really appreciate it!!!!
Tina
Tolly was 3 when his episodes started. I'll skip the horror details.

He was started on 3.75 mg (1/4 of a 15 mg tablet) once a day. The medicine had an almost immediate effect, but after 3 days the seizures started again, so we doubled the dose to 3.75mg twice a day, total o 7.5 mg a day.

After about two weeks on the higher dose (he was very dopey during this time) the episodes came back, so he was increased to 7.5 in the morning and 3.75 in the evening(11.25 mg a day). Again this was effective, but only for a couple of months.

The dopiness wore off after 3 weeks and never returned.

By the 8th month mark he was up to 22.5 mg a day, which was 1 1/2 pills. This controlled the episodes. Four months went by. His phenobarbital levels were still in the normal range, though bordering on high, and the vet did not want him on such a high dose permanently.

At the 14th month we started cutting the dose. When we dropped it to 18.75
(1 1/4 tablet a day) all was well. A couple of months later we dropped it to 15 mg, and within a couple of weeks he started having episodes, so back up to 18.75, and there he stayed for the next 8 years. He took 1/2 and 1/4 pill in the morning and 1/2 pill at night.

He continued to have blood work every year, to check organ function (fasting, for liver) and his phenobarbital levels. At the end of December of 2009 I thought he seemed a little off. Vet looked him over and we decided to do the blood work a little early. His liver values (ALT) had shot up to 575 (under 100 is normal). Vet and I were in shock. We started him on Denosyl (sam-e) which helps the liver regenerate cells among other benefits.

After two months new blood work showed lower ALT numbers but not low enough. Vet wanted to cut his phenobarbital dose. She said we'd just try eliminating that 1/4 pill. (3.75 mg). I said okay, but if the seizures came back I was putting him back on the higher dose. I was terrified to do it, frankly.

So he was down to 15 mg a day, 1/2 pill in the monring and 1/2 at night. He did okay. At the 3 week mark, 21 days after cutting his dose, he had three very tiny episodes within a 3 day period that I witnessed. I waited for more but none came. When cleaning I found a pill under a chair, so I knew he'd missed a dose, which maybe accounts for those three episodes. They were so subtle most people wouldn't have even noticed them. I had a friend here during one of them. They lasted no more than a few seconds, but I saw his eyes, that beginning twitch, and his body starting to tense and circle.

None since then. He's been on the reduced dose and the Denosyl for a little over a year now. He's been getting blood work every 3 months, and the last three were completely normal, and he even had dental work in February. He's doing so well at 12 years old, thriving. He's at an optimal weight for him (he's usually too thin) happy, loving, playing playing playing. He's Top Cat in the house besides.

No I will never take him off the phenobarbital. I won't risk it. If it means a shorter time with him, so be it. At least that time has been the best he could possibly have. That's what matters to me.

I agree with Jcat that finding a better diet may help. All that brewers rice, by-product, wheat and corn. Perhaps a grain free, or limited ingredient diet may help. Tolly eats a high quality canned diet. No by-products or artificial anything,no sodium nitrate or sodium nitrites, no wheat. No fish. (fish can contain heavy metals)

Cut out the deli, deli meat is loaded with things you don't what your cat to eat.

OH! I do have a question for you. After an episode does Tucker seem excessively loving, and have a ravenous appetite? Those were two of the details that led the neurologist to lean more toward a seizure disorder rather than FHS with Tolly. But whichever it is, it was horrific.


<edit> I didn't mention in this little history all the trips to vets and such. Tolly did spend almost a week at Cornell University Companion Animal Hospital where he saw a neurologist and had many tests including a ct-scan (they didn't have an MRI machine at that time) which is where he got his "Idiopathic Partial Seizure Disorder" diagnosis. It wasn't his first time there actually, he was there a year earlier for his eyes, he has herpes, but it was so bad he had to see a veterinary ophthalmologist.
 

luvmyparker

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I had also heard that a grain-free diet worked for many people. That was the first thing I tried. It didn't work for me, unfortunately. It is definitely worth a shot, at least.
 

arlyn

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Search online for soft e-collars for the times he needs to wear one.
These may, or may not, work for you, but they are a more comfortable alternative to a traditional e-collar.
 
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tina23

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Originally Posted by otto

The dopiness wore off after 3 weeks and never returned.


OH! I do have a question for you. After an episode does Tucker seem excessively loving, and have a ravenous appetite? Those were two of the details that led the neurologist to lean more toward a seizure disorder rather than FHS with Tolly. But whichever it is, it was horrific.
That's kinda hard to answer because Tucker is always loving and snuggly. I have had cats all my life and have never had such a loving, snuggly lap cat! I'm not sure he really has "episodes". If he doesn't have the collar on and we set him on the floor he acts really timid and almost scared, then he'll glance behind him and its like a trip in his brain says "oh - sh**" and he'll either out right attack it or run in circles or run from to room to room also kinda in circles and seems really scared. When I finally catch him I have to hold him real close to get him to calm down, then he's fine. Needless to say this scares the crap out of me so I don't set him down without the collar anymore. I guess he does have some episodes with the collar on - case in point - as I'm sitting here typing he is sitting on my desk with the collar on and started darting in circles trying to get his tail. I've been asked if I think he's trying to figure out where his tail is since it's gone but I don't think that's it. He did this before which is why I was so easily talked into removing the whole tail - HUGE HUGE MISTAKE!!!

How bad was the dopey stage???? I'm really worried about that.
 

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I have a cat that had the exact same problem. He chewed the tip of his tail down to the bone and he had to have half of his tail amputated. He was also put on kitty valium (diazepam), and this is what helped him. I don't like medications, especially major ones like valium, but it really really worked. He started out getting it twice a day, then as he improved I slowly tapered him down to once a day, then once every other day, and now he is off it completely and has no problems. He gets a little twitchy if I scratch his back, so I just don't do that. Aside from that, he's perfect!

While on the meds he slept a little more, was more relaxed, and had a little bit of an increased appetite, but had no negative effects.
 
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tina23

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Originally Posted by missamy018

I have a cat that had the exact same problem. He chewed the tip of his tail down to the bone and he had to have half of his tail amputated. He was also put on kitty valium (dorazepam), and this is what helped him. I don't like medications, especially major ones like valium, but it really really worked. He started out getting it twice a day, then as he improved I slowly tapered him down to once a day, then once every other day, and now he is off it completely and has no problems. He gets a little twitchy if I scratch his back, so I just don't do that. Aside from that, he's perfect!

While on the meds he slept a little more, was more relaxed, and had a little bit of an increased appetite, but had no negative effects.
Missamy018 - Thanks so much for posting! How long after the surgery did you start the valium? Do you remember the dosages? How long till you were able to stop it? After Tucker's first surgery the vet gave me some valium to give him to try to get him to sleep thru the night (mainly so that I could get some sleep - hadn't slept much for about 2 weeks at that point). I don't know if maybe we just didn't give him enough and he was fighting the effects or what but it did just the opposite to him. He refused to sleep and was more aggressive at trying to get to his tail. I'm not opposed to trying it again - especially if there is a chance I can ween him off it later. I'm wondering if he will do any better once all his fur has grown back?? The vet shaved him pretty good for the surgery.

Thanks
Tina
 

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My baby Sebastian started valium right after his surgery. When I picked him up from surgery they sent me home with the meds to start right away.
It was a process though. It took time to really have the desired affect. I didn't think it was going to work at first. He would still attack his tail and run from it like something was after him for a good while. I even took him back to the vet a few times and the doctor suggested amputating the rest of the tail, but I decided to give the meds a chance. He was now attacking and chewing on his back towards the base of what was left of his tail, so I knew it wasn't just the tail that was causing a problem. It took a month or 2 on the meds before I started seeing improvement with the crazies, then I believe it took around a year for him to go off the meds completely. My vet originally said he might have to be on it for his whole life, but I made the decision to take him off of it based on his improvement.
One of the things that happens with valium is that it makes them hyper and hungry before it knocks them out. Sebastian would get crazy hyper and hungry for about 30-60 minutes or so before passing out. So it might seem like it's just making him crazier, but that effect wears off. (Or at least it did in my case.) When Sebastian was hyper, I tried to distract him as much as possible by playing with him or giving him treats or wet food.
I think the dosage for him was 1/4 of a 5mg tablet twice a day. He weighs about 8-9lbs.
 
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tina23

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It's so encouraging to hear that your baby made a full recovery. I REALLY wish I would have listened to my gut and not agreed to the full amputation - in my heart I knew the tail wasn't the problem - just like you said.
Did your vet ever try to get you to try other meds? Since, after that one night, we thought the valium didn't work (would have been great to know to expect the hyperness!) she has mentioned either amitriptyline or phenobarbital. The amitriptyline she said could take up to 6 months to notice it working. The pheno still really scares me although I know some have had great success with it. I'm just so scared whatever I give him will make him worse with some weird side effects or end up killing him (which would kill me!)
 
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