Cats are extremely clean creatures and will spend a significant amount of their day grooming. This behaviour is motivated by a variety of factors. They are better able to fend off the outdoors, avoid parasite infection, and even experience less stress by keeping a healthy coat. Cats can devote a significant portion of their day to this activity, but it is spread out and not compulsive. Feline hyperesthesia syndrome (FHS) cats engage in intensive, protracted grooming. The effects might be harmful to your cat’s health.

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By examining the causes, symptoms, and treatment of feline hyperesthesia syndrome, we at AnimalWised learn what to anticipate from hyperesthesia in cats.

What causes feline hyperesthesia?

Cats with hyperesthesia have abnormally high sensitivity to specific stimuli. The illness known as feline hyperesthesia syndrome, in particular, is characterized by a variety of symptoms. Even though the term “rolling skin disease” has been used occasionally, it is inaccurate. It is a group of clinical symptoms that affect the endocrine, exocrine, neurological, and neuromuscular systems and is classified as a syndrome as opposed to a disease.

While the symptoms will be discussed in greater depth below, the illness is characterized by recurrent lumbar area biting and scratching.

Additionally, we can see that the cat’s skin ripples on its own, earning the condition the moniker rolling skin illness. The instance of hyperesthesia is episodic, just like other diseases that result in seizures. Typically, it doesn’t last for very long and ends quickly.

The precise causes of feline hyperesthesia syndrome are unclear, and its clinical manifestations are as poorly understood. Fortunately, it has a typically favourable prognosis and is a rather uncommon disorder. The primary issues appear when the cat repeatedly experiences them and harms itself in the process.


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The cat experiences extreme stress when hyperesthesia is present. They frequently appear to be under attack by an unidentified force. 

They frequently go into trance-like states and might become quite agitated. There isn’t much we can do to soothe them down because it can be challenging to divert them during an episode.

This syndrome is sometimes referred to by various names. These include neurodermatitis, neuritis, and nervous cat syndrome. This is because, despite the fact that the underlying reason appears to be neurological, the ensuing overgrooming can lead to skin inflammation.

feline hyperesthesia’s root causes

Unfortunately, scientific study on the precise origin of feline hyperesthesia syndrome is still ambiguous. There are many theories concerning the causes of this disease because it is difficult to determine the connection between the symptoms and a single cause. There are three primary hypotheses:

Behaviour disorder: Since cats groom to relax, tension is thought to be a contributing factor to overgrooming. This is connected to the rise in hormone production that stress might bring about. According to this idea, stress causes a specific form of OCD that can cause episodes of excessive grooming and self-mutilation.


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As we already discussed, feline hyperesthesia syndrome is a seizure disorder that manifests itself as episodes. Some researchers have proposed that FHS is also related to episodic epileptic seizures in cats because this is similar to those seizures.

Environmental and behavioural factors: According to this idea, a number of environmental and behavioural variables contribute to cats’ hyperesthesia symptoms. The fact that many other medical issues, like skin conditions in cats, are caused by behavioural and environmental factors lends weight to this.

There is a recorded predilection in several breeds, despite the fact that no genetic connection has been demonstrated. The Burmese, Abyssinian, and Himalayan cat breeds, among others, appear to be more likely than other Asian cat breeds to develop hyperesthesia in cats, pointing to a hereditary component.

FHS could be brought on by bites or other sources of skin conditions. Depending on the particular cat, the bite could set off the condition and cause even more severe scratching.

Cat hyperesthesia symptoms

The cat starts licking its back and tail area, or the lumbar area, repeatedly during periods of hyperesthesia. When the condition has sufficiently worsened, it is also possible that the cat will harm itself to combat the uncomfortable sensation that is accompanied by skin twitching.

Scratching is typical, but so is biting or even attacking one’s own tail as if it belonged to another cat. If the cat is successful in attacking their tail, it may leave wounds that bleed profusely and become infected. Hair loss is typical among cats because they bald in patches where they scratch.

Some of the clinical indications of feline hyperesthesia can be vague since it affects several physiological systems. Although a neurological cause is not yet known, it can have an impact on the nervous system and cause the following symptoms:

dilated eyes





unsuitable urination

The wounds and attacking of the lumbar region are distinctive, despite the fact that many of these clinical indicators are non-specific. If our cat displays these symptoms, we should think about hyperesthesia as a potential cause.

diagnosis of feline hyperesthesia

Because feline hyperesthesia syndrome is uncommon and frequently has vague symptoms, it needs to be differentially diagnosed in order to rule out any other potential causes. Only a veterinarian can perform this, thus it’s critical that we note the precise signs and behaviours first. We will need to be as descriptive as possible because it is not always expected that an incident will take place when the cat is at the veterinary office.

Once we arrive at the veterinary facility, they will run a few diagnostic procedures. Among these will be skin examinations to check for germs, mites, and other pathogens that could be causing dermatitis. To rule out other problems, x-rays and blood testing for hormone levels may be carried out. 

treatment for feline hyperesthesia

The therapy of feline hyperesthesia syndrome is challenging because the causes are poorly known. What suits one cat might not be appropriate for another. We can take some broad precautions to assist stop attack episodes. They consist of:

In order to create a tranquil environment, various stressors in the home must be eliminated, such as loud noises and continual movement. We also need to give them with a peaceful, cozy place to slumber.

Taking care of stress issues: Cats may experience stress for a number of reasons, including dietary changes, trauma, and other causes. We should see a feline ethologist who can provide more insight if we are unable to identify the sources of stress in our cat’s life.

We shouldn’t attempt to control a cat’s hyperesthesia attack. Although it can be quite upsetting for us, doing so could end up hurting the cat more and perhaps making it hostile to the guardian.

Drugs might be necessary in specific circumstances. Anti-inflammatories to lessen skin inflammation, antibiotics to treat any secondary infections, or pain relievers to lessen the pain are just a few examples. Anti-anxiety drugs and even antidepressants may be used to treat the symptoms of the FHS if it seems to be linked to anxiety disorders. The prognosis is typically good, although it will depend on the severity of the episodes and the extent of the hyperesthesia.