Help - Feline Hyperesthesia

rang_27

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I don't have much to add other than I'm glad to hear that others have had good luck treating this condition. Our shelter currently has a cat that I believe has this condition. He is staying at a wonerdful vets office. They are taking awsome care of him, and have found that if they distract him and keep him mentally stimulated he has fewer "episodes". His episodes were horrible & absolutely heart breaking. He would chase his tail bite it and scream. He is going to a nurologist on Thursday & I am hopefull that we will be able to help him. He is a sweet cat, that has had a horrible life (he has been abused on multiple occasions by children), and deserves to be happy.
 

naps with cats

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Hey there,

Just saw this thread, sorry.

I have a cat with both seizures and Feline Hyperesthesia. She had the Feline Hyperesthesia before the seizures came (they came after her major double eye surgery (stress-galore for her)), and the feline esthesia continued after she started seizures and was put on Phenobarbital 2x/day. (She's the cute one in the picture below with the squinty eyes - in fact, her name is "Squint".

Her case is not as radical as she is an overgroomer and grooms everyone else (including me and the other cats) all the time, constantly, but WILL take play breaks.

She hasn't lost fur from this, oddly. The Pheno did not help with her Hyperesthesia. A big factor in feline hyperesthesia is nerves/stress which is probably why they want to try the Pheno. Like, since my girl got a double eye surgery, it's like she's having flashbacks every day or something and this was a couple of years ago. She's still the most loving, playful little lady, but has this disorder (again, not to the worser symptoms).

It does sound like some type of de-stress type thing is in order. Once your cat is on Pheno, it's dangerous to get them off, as with any seizure medication (it's possible they can start having seizures). Have you tried "Feliway" plug-ins? They're expensive, but might be a good first try while having a med as a back up if you do not notice anything within a week or two. You could also try accupuncture (which is amazing-from personal experience) or other holistic methods.

Sorry you are going through this and bless you for going through this with your baby girl! She is blessed to have you!

Warmly,

Julie O'



Originally Posted by Tina23

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!!
 

violetxx

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I just read this post after looking up Feline Hyperesthesia. I'm not sure if you're still taking responses, but I have a success story I thought I would share. I have a cat who exhibited this, it started when she was around 2 years old. She would run with her side twitching and she would lick it in a frenzy and start panting and crying. We believed the initial cause was from feeding our cat Wellness. This was about 9 years ago and I'm sure the ingredients changed have by now. We ended up putting her all these diet changes (mostly vet formulas) but they caused her to gain weight. We knew it was a food allergy because occasionally she would sneak our other cats food and end up having an episode. We ended up having to change her food in order to get her to lose weight, however it caused the hyperesthesia to start up again but we have found a food that works and the episodes have completely stopped, medication free!

I just wanted to let you know some of the research I have done in case it may be helpful. Hyperesthesia tends be caused by something in their environment that is agitating them, may it be chemical (carpet, detergents), allergies (in particularly food) and I've even read that vaccines have caused a lot skin twitching near the hind quarters in a peer reviewed journal article.

I'm wondering if there's some kind of way to detox your cat. Are their any holistic vets in your neighbourhood? I would be very hesitant about giving your cat any medication this "anti" anything or a steroid for they do not cure the problem but hide the symptoms and can end up doing more damage because they prevent them from being expelled from the body causing internal damage. This is proven in humans as well.

Surprisingly this condition is quite common and is sadly on the rise. There must be some common link between us all, we just don't know what it is yet.


Hope your little one is doing better and all the best!
 
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tina23

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Thanks for the reply.  I haven't been posting, but I do still occasionally look at this site.  I guess I should have posted more updates on Tucker. Sorry

Well, It's been right at one year since all this started and I am happy to say Tucker is doing great.  Shortly after we had his tail amputated (HUGE regret!!!) we started him on amitriptyline.  It has done wonders!  He is back to being totally normal as long as he stays on the meds.  We started with giving him pills which he hated.  I tried every trick I could think of to get him to take it.  Then I thought to ask if we could get it in a lotion form - YES.  So now he gets a little in his ear every morning and no more tail mutilating.  I did try to take him off the meds last October just to see if maybe we broke that mental cycle and he could go off them.  Nope.  He was great for about 7 days and then the tail attacking came back full force.  Took about 3-4 weeks for the amitriptyline to completely build back up in his system.  Since then, no issues. 

My theory - which I obviously can't prove - is that allergies started all this.  We had moved from Kansas to the Gulf Coast of Alabama about a year and a half before all this started.  Because it was a year and a half I don't think it was the stress of such a big move.  However, the plants and pollen are WAY different here.  I never really had allergies very bad before moving here and now each spring my head blows up!  So, I think all the pollen in the air (and I like to open windows when it's nice out) is what started or triggered the hyperathesia.  Once it started I think it just put like a mental loop in his brain that now can't be broken.  I hope that makes some sense. 

Anyway, as much as I was against giving him meds in the beginning, if he continues to be himself I will keep him on it the rest of his life.  The only side effect seems to be that he gets the munchies and has put on a little weight.  He is still a healthy weight (he's always been a tiny cat) so I'm not worried.

Thank you to everyone who helped me thru this last year!!!

Tina
 

violetxx

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skyring

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Tina -

I'm doing some research on FHS and came upon this thread and it's been extremely helpful.  We haven't had issues as bad as yours (I feel like I caught Gunner's relatively early on) but my vet also has me putting Gun on amitriptyline.  What dose did you start with?  We're starting with a 5mg dose for 10-12 days to see if there's a difference.

Gunner is a 1.5yr old full Bengal, he grooms me like crazy, but not my husband, and has the standard skin rippling, feet & tail chewing, tail chasing, occasional yelling episodes.  He's always been high energy and groomed me a lot and chased his tail, but the skin rippling and foot chewing started so suddenly one day and I had to CONVINCE my husband that taking him to the vet was the right idea.  He's since come around and is really bothered by it.  We're giving the ami a go, and I'm also using a Spirit Essences tincture that you can just rub on them that is basically aromatherapy in conjunction with it.  

How much more expensive was the lotion over the pills?  I hate giving cats pills and Gunner is decidedly uncooperative even after just 1 pill.
 

violetxx

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I don't have any experience with medicating FHS, since it never came to that, however have you been able to figure out what triggers the episodes? Personally, if its possible to figure that out, then you may not need to control it using medication. Overgrooming and hyperesthesia can be sign that something is wrong internally, so if you can try using the process of elimination to figure out the cause than you won't have to treat the symptoms for the rest of Gunner's life, plus medications can have side-effects.

Do you know if its diet related? In my experience I have noticed that many FHS cats do much better with a diet change and by supplementing with Omega-3s since O3's help regulate the nervous system and are natural anti-inflammatories which can really help the severity of the episodes.

I find the best way to really understand the cause of FHS is keep a journal of episodes. Helps to trace the source.

Hope I helped!!
 

catlover6

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Hello Hissy,

I read your article on Bacardi and my heart went out to you. Two weeks ago my kitten (a 6 months old female OSH Havana Brown) called Sydney, started being scared of her tail. Long story short, I looked and searched on the web and came across  FELINE HYPERESTESIA and I am convinced she's got it!  :-( I am gutted but don't want to go to my vet yet. Here in Holland there is very, very little known on FELINE HYPERESTESIA and I don't want them to start giving Sydney all sorts of drugs. I have started giving her Bach Flower Remedy (Rescue Remedy) as it seems to calm her down. Since this only started 2 weeks ago she has not (yet??) started plucking out fur and I am hoping she won't. I have a feeling this might be stress related, reason I'm thinking this is that a few nights before this whole thing started I noticed she was chewing and biting her claws in such a nervous way (I have a highly strung Siamese who does this too but luckily only this and she's not got FELINE HYPERESTESIA!) and a few days later this whole saga started.

If you or anyone could give me hints and tips on how I can help my cat. I am soooo desperate and my heart goes out to her. She can just suddenly jump up and run around the room looking behind her to see if her tail's following her and she does frantically lick herself and attacks her tail and does attempts to bite her tail but so far has not plucked clumps of fur out !

I hope to get a reply from you or anybody on this blog. I had never heard of FELINE HYPERESTESIA and I am still searching the web for solutions!

Thank you!!
 
 

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I don't know what STARTED the episodes (though I suspect it might be from us gutting our spare room of junk and making it an actual ROOM rather than a catch all), but I've noticed now that if you touch him, it tends to set him off, so I only pet him when he asks for it.  We're on day 6 of the amitriptyline and it seems to be helping - his episodes have been shorter and less severe, and so far today I haven't seen him have a single episode.  He's also a decidedly happier cat, and back to his ultra annoying self (climbing the walls, eating the blinds, seeing how far he can fling them from the window, etc etc).

I don't think it's diet - he's on Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken, though I got Salmon a few days ago just to give him a change of taste.  He's been on that for 8-9 mos.  He also gets a can of Fancy Feast at night, which he's had since before I brought him home from the breeder.

I'm hoping that the ami is helping and we can do the course of 12-16wks and start weaning him off of it.  I didn't want to do it to begin with, but he was having such escalating episodes and I had been sitting on the prescription that I had to give him SOMETHING to see if it would help.
 

ekendric

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Hey all! I also have a kitty with feline hyeresthesia and through small doses of gabapentin once a day (usually at night) she doesn't have extreme bouts anymore really. It has been a difficult learning process and sometimes she needs more medicine than usual. I'm writing an article for possible publication on how to identify and handle a kitty with hyperesthesia and I'd love to interview a couple of you who have had success with treatments. I'd like to know what medications you chose, environmental changes, etc. Please send me an email at [email protected] if you're interested in being interviewed over the phone. It wouldn't take more than 20 minutes of your time and I think publishing an article about this would really help a lot of people who are still scratching their heads wondering what is wrong with their cat. Thank you! 
 

sbrnakiss

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My cat Akasha started this behavior out of no where. Akasha is a 22 lb. f-2 savannah with a defensive attitude. He chewed his tail tip and we had the tip amputated. He was then E-collared. Due to his defensive nature we can't medicate him. It was a nightmare having to give him pain meds. After the tail healed ( roughly 3-4 weeks), off the collar went but he still went after it, so, back on the E-collar went. He was fine and happy with the e-collar on but that's not a life for a cat. Long story- short, we came up with an E-collar taper method. Gradually we reduced the radius of the collar every 2 weeks. Large-medium-small. Our theory was psychologically he felt the collar on his neck and would assume he couldn't reach his tail. Then slowly reintroducing him to his tail, he could now begin to see it but still felt the collar. We then switched him from smallest E-collar to regular cat-safe collar. Still he felt something on his neck but had full access to his tail. It took roughly a week for him to stop growling at it upon sight. He would see his tail or feel his back twitch and run but the attacking stopped. Roughly 2.5 weeks later, he lost his cat collar and was no longer interested in his tail. No growling, chasing or attacking. Thank heavens!! It worked for us. We used no meds, kept his diet the same and did not change anything in our household. It was a good 3 months of collar training but it worked for us. It doesn't harm your cat and is worth a try. I understand every case is different but just wanted to share.
Furriest Regards,
Sabrina.
 

sbrnakiss

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Just To clarify that e-collar in my text is Elizabeth collar not electronic collar.
 

debl58

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Don't know if there are levels of this disease for lack of better word. But I do believe my
1-1/2 has it to a certain extent. Symptoms include the rippling of her tail and lower back,
yowling as if lost occasionally (usually at nite) and most importantly attacking her tail. So
far no damage. It's not an every day occurance. If I catch her during an episode, I try to snap
her out of it by playing or just getting her mind on something else. I hope she doesn't get as
bad as other stories I've read.
 

robistar

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I just wanted to send a shout out to all of you for helping me with this difficult condition.  I had two veterinarians, tell me there was little hope for my poor baby.  I was devastated when I was offered a poor prognosis and the specter of euthanasia in the future.  I knew there had to be a better answer & I kept searching and when I found this site, it was like a weight lifted off my shoulders.

Clearly from all these posts, treatment is viable and the cat can have a good quality of life, even if meds are required.

I had just read not to let your cat chase his tail, and I thought, "Uh oh."  The little orphan I found in the parking lot did that.  And a couple of days later, there was blood all over my bedroom when I came home.  My little guy was just over 2 months old & was in full blown mode with raised hair, screaming, hissing, running & tail biting.  The emergency vet was the first to suggest potential euthanasia.  The neurologist that I was urged to consult was the second.  My poor vet didn't have any experience with this unusual condition, but her treatment included compassion & research & was a lot more impressive than anyone else's that I experienced. 

I am convinced that the condition is triggered by stress in his case, but I am trying to be alert for allergen contributors as well.  Now I know I am on the right track with a healthy diet, extra TLC, some nutritional  & calming supplements along with the medication.  We are currently using gabapentin and the vet is hopeful that my little guy will be able to be weaned off of it in the future, but I am just happy with the major improvement.

Again, let me thank you all for sharing your experiences so the rest of us can try to deal with our problem children & not just write them off as some "experts" advise.
 

otto

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Hello robistar and welcome to TCS. I'm so glad you've found some help here. I have once before read of using gabapentin fo cats, I am thrilled that it is helping your little kitten. Please keep us posted!
 
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tina23

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Tina -

I'm doing some research on FHS and came upon this thread and it's been extremely helpful.  We haven't had issues as bad as yours (I feel like I caught Gunner's relatively early on) but my vet also has me putting Gun on amitriptyline.  What dose did you start with?  We're starting with a 5mg dose for 10-12 days to see if there's a difference.

Gunner is a 1.5yr old full Bengal, he grooms me like crazy, but not my husband, and has the standard skin rippling, feet & tail chewing, tail chasing, occasional yelling episodes.  He's always been high energy and groomed me a lot and chased his tail, but the skin rippling and foot chewing started so suddenly one day and I had to CONVINCE my husband that taking him to the vet was the right idea.  He's since come around and is really bothered by it.  We're giving the ami a go, and I'm also using a Spirit Essences tincture that you can just rub on them that is basically aromatherapy in conjunction with it.  

How much more expensive was the lotion over the pills?  I hate giving cats pills and Gunner is decidedly uncooperative even after just 1 pill.
Skyring -

I'm so sorry I didn't answer you earlier.  I didn't realize this thread was still going and the site never sent me an update email until today.  Not sure you still need the info, but I'd like to answer your questions.  We started Tucker on 10mg but he is now down to about 3mg (hard to judge for sure because he gets it in the cream form and after all this time I just eyeball the amount, but it's real close to about 3).  I don't really remember how much the pills where.  The lotion is a little more expensive, but not much.  We get ours from a compounding pharmacy my vet found that is in Arizona (I'm in Alabama).  I get 2 tubes at a time and it's @ $36 with shipping.  Now that I've reduced the amount he gets a tube can last 3-4 months. 

I hope Gunner is doing ok.  I would be happy to answer any questions and help in any way I can.  

Tina
 

sylvi

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My cat suffered from hyperesthesia for many months and she is fine now. First we took the collar of her neck which I think might have contributed to her condition, 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. Oh I also put her name in a few remote energy healing websites.  who knows? Hope these suggestions will help your cat!
 

ritz

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Ritz was just diagnosed with FHS; I believe in her case it is stress related.  Ritz has always been a nervous cat; she lived on the streets for the first four to six months of her life.  She has had stress-induced UTIs.

Her symptoms escalated after a vet visit (rabies shot) and after I began decreasing the amount of food I am feeding her (she needs to lose some weight).  She's not at the self mutilating part yet, mainly twitching especially along the flank, running up and down the hall like she's trying to get away from something, some flipping of her tail, and bitting the flank area.  Frequency is also escalating. 

She's been on a raw [frankenprey] diet since October 2010; she has episodes regardless of the protein I feed her (wide variety).  I already use Feliway (have for months); Rescue Remedy doesn't seem to help.  Originally I was going to try acupuncture, but based on research, talking with cat experts and acupuncturists (one of whom is the woman who rescued Ritz), I have decided to try Amitriptyline.  I am concerned about possible weight gain and change in affect; I want my Ritz back.

I think the vet opted for Ami instead of Prozac because I cannot pill Ritz; I am getting Ami in a liquid formula.

I'd appreciate any updates posters have; some vibes, too, please.  Also how immediate did you notice side effects; I'm trying to decide whether to wait until the weekend when I can monitor her reaction.

Thanks.
 

goholistic

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My oldest male cat, Boo, just turned 13. He started exhibiting symptoms of Feline Hyperesthesia (licking frantically, twitching/rolling back and running away from himself). I believe the behavior was increasingly getting worse, but I did not notice until he was acting like a total maniac. After much research, I came to the following summary: Many vets do not know what this is. If they have heard of it, some think it's caused by solely by allergies (of any kind). Some think it's neurological and/or caused by seizures. IMO, it sounds like the diagnosis they give when they don't have a clue what's going on. (Sorry...just frustrated.)

I decided to start with the easiest and treat it as an allergy. Fleas: all clear. Food: working on it. I studied his food history, what he did and didn't have problems with, ingredient listings of everything he eats, making spreadsheets and charts (I like to analyze). I went back and thought hard about when this behavior may have started. I estimated it at about 4 months ago. So, I dug through my receipts and...voila!...I found that I started him on a new food in October 2012 (4 months ago!). So I analyzed those ingredients. I'm still in the very early stages of this and I've read that it can take 4-6 weeks to see if a change in food eliminates the allergy symptom. ::huffs loudly with impatience::

Since I've stopped the old food and replaced it with a limited ingredient diet, he seems to be doing better. Episodes aren't as frequent or long. Perhaps his body is in the process of detoxing?

As I was mindlessly washing the dishes after dinner tonight, another thought occurred to me. I used to give him a half dose of a chewable feline multivitamin, but I ran out a few months ago and have not yet placed another order. Hmm...another variable. Vitamin/mineral deficiency perhaps?

He's otherwise a healthy, active senior (too active if you ask me). He had bloodwork done last fall and the vet was shocked at how great everything looked for a cat his age.
 

kristin jacobs

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Hello,  my cat is suffering from Feline Hyperthesia Syndrome as well and was just wondering what food you were speaking of that helped your cat totally stop these agonizing behaviors!!  Thanks so much! 
 
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