|My cat - yes overweight. I've fought that for 16 years|
I think that my cat may have a very mild form of Feline Hyperesthesia but I can't find anything on it in any of the reference books I use. Clearly this condition is not well known or veterinarians and physicians don't know that much about it. I have had to rely on the Internet exclusively for the answer, which I don't normally do as the information can sometimes be less than completely reliable.
My cat's skin on her back ripples when I talk to her (very gently always) and when I touch her lower back. The skin also twitches sometimes when touched towards the lower end of her back. I don't know if this is a disease. It has only started to happen over the last 6 months or so as far as far as I can tell. She has no fleas or mites etc.. She is on the face of it in good health and I am with her all the time. She is groomed 4 times daily. She is overweight. This is mainly because she is nervous and defensive so is more static. The nervousness may give the clue as anxiety may be a factor in the cause of this disease.
The disease - the symptoms
Anyway back to Feline Hyperesthesia. The word "esthesia" means the capacity for sensation and feeling (Mirriam Webster's Medical Dictionary). Hyper in medical terms means above normal or excessive (Medterms). That should tell us that the disease is a condition under which the cat feels sensations to an excessive degree. But is this what it actually is? The disease is also known as "rolling skin syndrome", rippling skin disorder" or "twitchy cat disease" and there may be an overlap with feline psychogenic alopecia (www.cathealth.com) (see Feline Endocrine Alopecia - a behavioral problem more than a hormone problem, it is thought).
Full blown Feline Hyperesthesia is more than a heightened sensitivity. The symptoms include:
- biting the tip of the tail or attacking the tail
- sensitivity to touching
- dilated pupils
- twitching of the tail
- running around wildly
- symptoms can look like epileptic fits
- rippling skin as mentioned above
- looks like crazy behavior but cat is distressed
- loud meowing
Picture above: My cat having a nice time in the garden. She is a tuxedo cat. In the top picture she is looking anxiously upwards at the balcony of a flat above. This is testament to her underlying nervousness. If anyone wants to use the photo feel free to do so and if you give a link back to this website that would be nice.
The causes of Feline Hyperesthesia are, it seems, simply unknown or there may be a number of possible causes. Some think it might be due to low grade food. Well that can be eliminated fairly easily and tested. Mind you high grade cat food is hard to come by. The better answer perhaps is that it is caused by an underlying health problem or behavior related which will need careful diagnosis based on blood and neurological tests. Possible causes are:
- toxins such as flea treatments or something eaten
- itching due for example to parasitic allergies may be confused with this condition
- brain disease such as brain tumor or infection
- a diet rich in unsaturated fatty acids and lacking vitamin E caused by feeding our cats with an unbalanced diet of say red tuna. This would be an unbalanced home made diet that may cause a disease called Yellow Fat Disease.
- over vaccinating
So my theory is that this condition is a bit like Feline Endocrine Alopecia which is also probably more likely to be due to over grooming and over grooming is caused by behavioral difficulties due to anxiety and stress for example. The stress need not necessarily originate in the owner but may be underlying as for my cat or perhaps the introduction of a new cat into the household may cause it and sometimes our anxiety about it may exacerbate the Feline Hyperesthesia.
One last thing: this condition may occur more frequently in Siamese cats.
Feline Hyperesthesia to Cat Health Problems
Feline Hyperesthesia - Sources as stated in the text and: