Cat laying on her back in a plastic box.

Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome

Feline hyperesthesia syndrome (“twitchy skin syndrome”) is a condition characterized by some unique clinical signs. Affected cats exhibit a rippling of the skin on their backs, especially when petted in the lower back region.

They might chew or lick at their tail incessantly, and appear to be “spaced out,” spontaneously darting throughout a room or house and attacking objects and owners without provocation.

The exact cause of this condition remains unknown. Some researchers feel that it is a form of epilepsy. Because “emotional” breeds such as Siamese, Persians, and Himalayans seem to be most often affected, other researchers believe that it is actually a behavioral disorder brought about by an upsetting experience or circumstance.

Even food preservatives used in cat foods have been accused of causing feline hyperesthesia syndrome.

Medical therapy for this disorder consists of the use of antianxiety medications or sedatives in an attempt to modify the cat’s behavior.

Identifying and correcting any environmental upsets (including any dietary changes) that might have a possible link to the problem are needed as well.