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Help - Feline Hyperesthesia

ritz

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@Kristen Jacobs:  Ritz was on raw before her FHS symptoms got bad.   I attribute her increase in symptoms this time last year to stress or *possibly* a reaction to having two vaccines at the same time.

It is hypothesized that additives,  a particular protein such as chicken or fish, or a carbohydrate such as peas, wheat or rice, can cause/contribute to FHS.  So one treatment modality is feeding a food with limited ingredients (no grains) or, of course, raw.  With raw feeding you have the ultimate control over what ingredients are in that food.

I would recommend feeding your cat a limited ingredient food, one with a novel, single source protein (one she hasn't had before like venison, duck or rabbit).  If you want to try the raw feeding route, I would recommend a commercial raw to start out with, such as Rad Cat, which seems to be juicer than some of the other commercial raw products, and is single source protein. 

I put Ritz on Prozac for about three months.  Her symptoms included frantic licking, twitching and running back and forth trying to escape whatever was bothering her.  Luckily, they did not include self-mutilation.  Her symptoms on Prozac decreased somewhat but she wasn't herself so I weaned her off of Prozac.  She still has symptoms, but at a level I (and I hope Ritz) can tolerate.  The symptoms seem to be the worst after she eats, especially if she hasn't eaten for a long time like 11 hours on the weekdays due to my work schedule.  (If her symptoms were more severe, I probably would have tried alternative medications to Prozac.)

There are some threads about FHS in the Health Section which you might want to read.  Also, here is an article about FHS.  http://www.thecatsite.com/a/feline-hyperesthesia

I know it's hard to watch your beloved cat go through this.

Good luck.
 

tracy jenkins

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I can't remember exactly what he did but if you get on your computer and go to www.jacksongalaxy.com, he had a case like this and even though it can't be cured the cat's triggers can be hunted down and limited so she doesnt have as many attacks each day. Im sure that story is on there somewhere but you can email his staff and they can tell you more about it. This particular cat had gone from about a dozen attacks a day down to like 3 or 4 and had time to actually enjoy being a cat again. Those two drugs (one of which is truth serum strangely enough) are 'downers' essentially. They're meant to put a lid on her energy levels and keep her calm so she doesnt trip one of her own triggers unknowingly. I wish I could be more specific but the point is dont give up and dont worry. Cats with this disorder can have a nearly normal life with a little management. I know the attacks are related to their energy levels so when you feed them is important. Go to that site and they can help you. Hope everything turns out for you and your little one.
 

pixiepants

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Can you please tell me what food you switched to after switching from Wellness?
 

pixiepants

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I am wondering what food you switched your cat too after taking her off Wellness?
 

boots11

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Hi Tina23! I read your post and my husband and myself have a cat whose back twitches or the skin on his back, rather, and he is biting his fur out on his back to the point where  it's bleeding and if we try to pick him up his back legs and feet get very stiff and in an strange position. He was having a seizure brought on by what we believe to be feline hyperesthesia. Before we came to that conclusion we had taken him to the vet and she had no earthly idea what was causing this so she did blood tests that would rule out certain diseases/disorders and if all of them were normal then it meant it was something inside his brain. We couldn't afford an MRI or CAT scan for Boots so she put him on phenobarbital for his sezures. It wasn't until I did my own research after observing Boots and I noticed his skin twitching as if something on his back was itching like crazy. I have multiple sclerosis and anyone who has this can tell you that at times you can have false perceptions and feel like your back is on fire or freezing, itching, the famous MS hug which I'm not sure I've had yet and hopefully never will, BUT my point is that I told my vet about gabapentin that I have to take for these skin sensations and asked her if Boots could benefit from that as well? Afterall, I mean his skin is twitching and even though it probably is brought on by some neurological problem he has just like MS is, that this medication might give him some relief. I'm hoping his skin will stop twitching and he will stop biting hunks of fur/flesh out of his back. She had never heard of feline hyperesthesia before, and seemed excited that gabapentin aka neurontin could help him. Now we just have to wait for them to ship it to the pharmacy. Anyway, I ramble a lot thanks to MS, but that was what I wanted to tell you. To ask your vet if your kitty could benefit from neurontin also. Gabapentin is the same drug as Neurontin is. It's just generic form and costs less.

I am a bit concerned though after reading hissy's post about being careful because of too many drugs. She wants to keep him on phenobarbital and when the neurontin gets here for him to take that also and now I'm afraid he might overdose. I'll have to ask her or the pharmacist. I hope this helps. Like all of you, I hate it and feel so helpless when our pets are sick!
 
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tina23

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Wow- I didn't know this thread was still going.  I wrote that in April 2011.  I can't believe it has been over four years since that horrible time.  Well - the 4 1/2 year update is that Tucker is doing great.  He's been on amitriptyline, a small dose in his ear each day, for over four years now and it has been a miracle.  He is totally back to normal and has been since he started the amitriptyline.   Every now and then I see his back get kinda "jumpy" and I just put my hand on him and within seconds it stops and doesn't come back.  Best of all it doesn't change his personality or make him a zombie cat.  

Boots11 - I"m so sorry to hear your baby is going thru it too.  It doesn't surprise me your vet didn't know anything about it.  I had to diagnose Tucker myself because the vets were clueless.  I don't know anything about the other meds you mentioned for Boots.  I really hope they work.  If not, consider stopping both and trying the amitriptyline.  Tucker has had seizures too (scariest thing ever to see!)  He doesn't have them often enough that give him any meds for it.  I don't know if the Amitriptyline helps with that or not but you could ask.  I was hesitant at first to try it because like you I didn't want to give him meds but I am so glad I did.  It really did save his life!

Good luck to Boots!!  
 

boots11

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Thank you, Tina and I will keep the amitriptiline in mind. I didn't even notice when the year was that your question was posted. I just read it and said to myself that maybe I could help. Right now I have an emergency w/Boots as he is furiously grooming and biting hunks out of himself. He's on phenobarbital, but we're not sure if he's become addicted and the pheno is no longer working on him or what to do for him tonight? I've put a bit of cortisone creme on the top of his head where he can't lick it off hoping that will help and then held him by the scruff of his neck so he won't bite me like he did my husband  and ran a cool wet wash cloth on his skin or fur. Then I applied w/Q-tips a thin layer of neosporin on his whole side where he has chewed himself and his skin is bleeding  & also  hot to the touch. Our problem is the gabapentin will not get here until the middle of next week. Meanwhile, I'm scared out of my mind because I can't drive him to an emergency all night vet, or animal hospital because of my MS. I can no longer drive. My husband has tried and tried his best to help him, but now he's reached his limits throwing his hands up in the air and giving up. All I can do is pray for him. Boots is one of 3 ferrel kittens my son and I rescued from a ferrel tomcat who was killing off ferrel Mom's kittens. They are all young adults now . Our other 2 ferrels ( Boot's brother and sister) have been eating kitty treats and I've noticed their fur on their backs are starting to twitch also. First you see the twitching fur and then grooming. I'm taking the 2 cats off of these snacks. From what I've heard, this is a fairly new problem cats are having and many vets have not even heard of it. I'm wondering if it's the 9 lives canned food or/and the snacks causing this? I don't give any to Boots at all ( snacks) just to be on the safe side. From the moment he was a baby he was afraid and painfully shy. He used to sleep with me or hide out under my bed when company came, but Boots doesn't seem to be Boots anymore and it makes  me sick seeing him suffer and all I can do is pray. If he can even stay alive long enough to get the gabapentin in his system maybe that will help this poor baby because right now he has no quality of life. Poor baby has been tramatized since he was a kitten and now this. So unfair!  :(
 
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tina23

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Oh, I'm so sorry you're going thru this.  I remember it well. Tucker attacked his tail not his back (although the back rolling was obvious).  He also was always spooked by "ghosts" - he'd jump sky high and freak out when there was nothing there to be afraid of.  Thru bad vet advice we ended up amputating his tail (worst mistake of this whole ordeal, I still feel guilty).  Until we decided to try the amitriptyline we had to put one of those cones around his neck so he couldn't attack himself.  For a few weeks I had to stay up all night with him because he couldn't be left alone - luckily I wasn't working at the time and could alter my sleep.  Our vet suggested the pheno first but I didn't like how it sounded.  I was worried it would zombie him and change him, plus it seemed more addictive??  I could be wrong but the amitriptyline sounded like a less severe option to try first.  I can't say enough about how it saved Tucker.  I don't even worry about him now.  He did NOT take pills well at all so that lasted all of 3 days.  I now get it in a lotion like substance in a syringe (no needle) and put just a dab on the inside of his ear every day.  Easy and he doesn't fight me.

I suppose it could be diet related but I have 2 very picky cats.  I tried getting different food and most the time neither would even touch it - especially the expensive stuff.  They have 2 kinds of dry food out all the time - I don't believe in rationing a cats food unless it's absolutely medically necessary - just my opinion.  The only people food they get is occasionally tuna or grilled chicken, etc., no junk food.  

One other possibility to think about with Boots is does he have fleas or maybe allergies?  

Just curious - what state are you in?
 

violetxx

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Hi Tina and Boots,

I have been away from thecatsite, but I am back again! :D

I am writing an article on FHS with the latest research that should be out any day now that I will post here. I was thinking of writing a second part where I would need to interview YOU all! If anyone would like to share their story to help us better understand FHS and help others - pm me and we can discuss it further!


Here is a snippet of my article that could be useful for you two:

"What causes Feline Hyperesthesia?
Feline hyperesthesia is considered idiopathic as no single factor has been linked to its cause11. The first study was conducted by Dr. Jean Holzworth at the Angell Memorial Animal Hospital9. Cats that are often in situations of chronic overstimulation, anxiety or aggression trigger changes in the brains natural chemical balance resulting in the FHS disorder2. Moreover, it is thought to be brought on by a combination of environmental and social stressors similar to other skin conditions11. In addition, Oriental and Siamese breeds are pre-disposed to exhibiting mania during stress and anxiety, thus FHS is more common in these breeds1,4.

Possible causes
• 1Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD)
• 4Fungal infections
• 4Mite infestations
• 1Dry, itchy skin, often from a poor diet (e.g. dry food/kibble)
• 4Food allergies or sensitivities
• 1,2Stress (could be caused by changes in routine, moving, other pets, loss of territory, aggression, fear, etc.)
• 10Environmental toxins (e.g. paint, smoke, air fresheners, plastic food bowls, household cleaners, over vaccination, pesticides, etc.)

Other tools
• Spirit essences or Bach remedies depending if the event is brought on by stress;
• Omega-3 supplements could help to improve nerve function and in some cases reduce the severity of the FHS episodes;
• Valerian herbal supplement that reduces anxiety (talk to your vet first about its use and dose)
• 1Acupuncture;
• A scheduled feeding routine instead of free-feeding;
• A diet with a high moisture content, canned or raw food;
• Avoid petting over touching close to the tail and lumbar region; and
• Increasing play time to help your cat build confidence and decrease stress."
 

starletf

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Tina,
I wanted to thank you for this thread! I've had the same problem with my cat biting holes in her back. She was living with a cone on and so miserable. We tried pills, but she wouldn't take them and my vet was clueless. About the disease and other medication options. She just kept telling me to try different ways to tak the Prozac. When I read about amitryptyline, I called our old vet from another state and he had heard of it and prescribed it. She has now been cone free and bite free for a month! I'm so thrilled. I thought she'd die with that stupid cone on. Thank you so much!
Also, what was the dosage strength and amount you give your cat? Mine is on twice daily 2.5mg. I'm just wondering if I can cut her down to once daily.
 
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tina23

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Oh YAY!!!!  I'm so glad the amitryptyline is working for your baby.  My Tucker has been on it for 5 years now and he's perfect.  I'm not sure how to answer your dosage question.  I could NOT give Tucker pills so I have it compounded into a cream/lotion that comes in a syringe tube.  It says "Amitriptyline 10% (100MG/G) Liposome". It's in a 3ml tube. I just give him a very small dot of it in his ear every morning. So I really have no idea exactly what mg he's getting??  Sorry, I know that doesn't help.  I would say if she is doing fine on the dose she's on you can try to taper back to once a day and see how she does.  Worse case you just have to go back up.  You will notice signs that it's not enough before she goes full on crazy.   It may take a week or so before you really know if the new dose is ok.  I remember after around 4-5 months I tried to stop the meds wondering if maybe the initial amount maybe "shocked" his brain and he'd be normal.  He was fine for about a week and then it came back full force - won't be trying that again, lol. 

I'm so glad Tucker's ordeal has helped another kitty.  It's sad that most vets are so clueless on this.  Let me know how she does and if you have any more questions.
 

isador

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Hello all,thanks so much for this thread, has been helping me understand what's wrong with my little guy!  The past year or so he'd been chasing his tail much more than usual; i didn't think anything of it, it seemed harmless, but then came home one night to little swatches of blood all over the house! he'd gnawed the tip of his tail a bit and basically turned his tail into a paintbrush.  I brought him to the vet, they gave him a cone and Gebapentin; and briefly mentioned Hyperesthesia.  The Gabapentin did nothing (that i could see); after 2 weeks of it and the cone, he was still obsessed with his tail.  Id take the cone off for him to eat/groom himself a little; and after he was finished, he'd be right back to the tail; and if i didn't get the cone back on quick enough there would be blood everywhere again. I even had to go back and get a longer cone, as with the first one he could curl his tail inside it and bite.  He's now on Amitryptyline; it's been almost a week, started at 5mg, now at one 10mg pill once a day.  How long did it take for you to see a change with the Amitryptyline?  So far, nothing's changed, he's miserable in his huge cone, yet will still stare at the tail/try to get at it through the cone (should i think about blacking the cone out, so he really can't see it? that seems cruel..).  I'm wary of amputation due to everything I've read on this site, as his deep obsession will seemingly translate to the nub, or whatever's left after amputation... Any advice would be appreciated! I miss my happy energetic playful cat!  I live in the city, he's in an apartment, would bringing him to live outdoors in the country be a possible solution? Can environment play a part in Hyperesthesia?
 
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tina23

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Isador - I'm so sorry you're going thru this too - It still amazes me how many kitties deal with this and vets are still clueless.  As far as the Amitriptyline - If I remember right I think my Tucker started at 10mg.  He got a pill for about 2 days before I gave up fighting him and got it compounded into a cream to put in his ear - MUCH easier!  Anyway - I would say give it another week at the 10mg before you give up.  It really was a miracle for Tucker - no issues in 5 years now.  PLEASE do not amputate!!! That is my biggest regret - it did nothing to stop his neurotic behavior.  I remember the vet suggesting phenobarbitol.  I thought that sounded like too strong a drug to start with for Tucker which is why he's on amitriptyline but maybe if it doesn't work for you that could be something else to try?? 

I'm not sure blacking out his cone is going to do you any good.  His brain is the problem.  But I suppose you could try.  One thing I still do with Tucker is when I see his back skin "crawling" I put my hand on him firmly for a minute and it passes - that's the extent of his symptoms now - yay! 

I'm sure environment plays a part in this to some degree thou I'm not sure how much.  Amitriptyline is an anti-anxiety drug.  So the fact that it works for Tucker makes me think that for whatever reason he gets too overstimulated and anxious and it comes out as self mutilation.  We live in the suburbs and a quite neighborhood - house backs up to a forest (although Tucker is strictly and indoor cat) - and he still got this, sooooo? 

Good luck and I hope the higher dose works.  Please keep us informed and ask as many questions as you want!!
 

amyjo89

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I didn't see where you mentioned what food you switched to. Would you mind providing that info? 
 

skyring

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Good lord... I just got an alert on this today LOL

Gunner is actually doing pretty well; we wound up getting another cat (also a Bengal, rescued from a hoarder breeder in Florida) which has helped him burn off some of his excess energy.  We don't have either on any drugs.  He still has some attacks and he did end up completely licking his stomach bare and the outside of his front legs, but I'm of the opinion that it has become a habit rather than a response.

For quite a while they were on Blue Buffalo but I've since changed their food - and found out today that what they're doing so well on is going to be discontinued in my area.  Go figure.  

As a treat, they get Purina's Pro Plan chicken & rice - Nova was sick for a few days and throwing up so we gave them both super bland food until she calmed down, and they think it's crack.  So they still get it every once in a while just as a treat.  But they're both on Natural Balance wet & dry, limited ingredient and grain free.  Treats, they get Greenies Dental Treats in whatever flavor, usually catnip or chicken.

The licking has calmed down, the attacks are sporadic and when he does have them, they aren't as severe.  If he does get a bad one, I try and play it out unless it's really bad, and then making a cat burrito usually helps :D
 

Raiven627

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Hello, I know this thread is really old and no one probably reads it but this thread changed my cats life. We knew our cat Sabrina had Hyperesthesia and were treating it with gabapentin but the agression and mutilation were getting worse. She was mutilating her tail and the possibility of tail amputation was becoming a real possibility.

I was doing research on the disorder and found this thread mentioning amitriptyline. I wrote the medication name down and did more research into this medication being used for Hyperesthesia. I found a veterinary article mentioning its success with the condition. So on friday I took Sabrina to the vet and asked that we try amitriptyline, the vet agreed that it was a good idea and she started the meds that day. We are now 48 hours episode free! It's so great to see her being a normal cat and not hurting herself. The next time I see the vet I'm going to ask if we can start weaning her off of the gabapentin and see if the amitriptyline will control it by itself.

Thank you so much for sharing information online where other people can find it!
 

minnie's mom

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I don't know if anyone is still checking this thread, but my Minnie has just been diagnosed with FHS. She has the tip of her tail amputated (it was too badly damaged) but she's still trying to bite the tip (unsuccessfully- she's been in an e-collar since the surgery). She's been on prednisolone and amitriptyline for five days now and it seems to be helping. How long was it before the amitriptyline fully kicks in? I know it can take a while to build up in their systems, so I'm wondering at what point I can say this is or is not working for us?
 

Greta_Loki

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Hi minnie's mom minnie's mom my cat Loki may have FHS (it's either that or nerve damage). I hope Minnie has been doing better. I also found this youtube video (check the comments section for all the great info) and we've been giving Loki CBD oil now and already seeing an improvement.
We are mixing the CBD oil with vitamin B liquid too. There's been a big improvement over the last week.
 
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