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Arch Creek Animal Clinic
Call us today! 305-945-1223
Give us a call today! 305-945-1223

15372 W Dixie Hwy, 
North Miami Beach,
FL 33162

Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome

November 15 2022

Feline hyperesthesia syndrome—which is also known as rolling skin syndrome and twitchy cat disease—is a rather unique issue that we occasionally see in our feline patients. It is characterized by hypersensitivity of the skin, usually on the back. A local vet offers some information in this article.


It’s good for you to know what to look for. Twitching or rippling skin on the back is a common sign. Some other red flags include excessive and/or unusual meowing, drooling, scratching, tail chasing, dilated pupils, jumping and running frantically, and excessive sleepiness. Fluffy may also bite or lick herself, particularly on her flanks, lower back, rear paws, bottom, and/or tail. Cats with feline hyperesthesia often seem to feel pain or discomfort when they are being petted or held. Contact your vet if you notice any of these issues in your kitty.


Feline hyperesthesia syndrome has been linked to several potential causes, with skin problems, such as allergies, being one of the most common. It can also be caused by neurological issues, such as seizures or nerve pain. It can also be a psychological issue, as it has been linked to anxiety, stress, compulsive behavior, and even attention seeking behavior. Food sensitivity is another possibility. It’s worth noting that feline hyperesthesia is most common in cats that are younger than age seven. The average age at onset is just one year old. Breed may also play a role. For instance, Burmese, Persian, Abyssinian, and Siamese kitties are particularly prone to this condition.


Fortunately, feline hyperesthesia syndrome isn’t fatal. However, it can impact your kitty’s happiness and quality of life. If you know or suspect that Fluffy is afflicted, contact your veterinary clinic immediately. Mild cases can often be scheduled in advance as a regular appointment. However, severe ones would warrant immediate emergency care. There are treatments available. Of course, your vet will need to determine if Fluffy does have feline hyperesthesia syndrome. It’s also important to rule out other causes. Several other medical conditions that can cause similar problems. These include intervertebral disc extrusions, spinal arthritis, skin problems, parasites, allergies, and fungal infections. As far as treatment, medication is often successful, though it is important to realize that some kitties will respond differently than others. Your vet may also recommend things like behavioral counseling and/or environmental changes.

Our Advice on Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome in 2024

What is Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome (FHS)?

Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome (FHS), also known as rolling skin syndrome or twitchy cat disease, is a unique neurological disorder observed in cats. It is characterized by an extreme sensitivity of the skin, especially along the back, leading to twitching or rippling skin, excessive meowing, drooling, scratching, and other erratic behaviors. Cats may also exhibit signs of discomfort or pain when touched. The exact cause is unknown but may involve a combination of skin issues, neurological factors, psychological stress, or food sensitivities. Treatment varies and can include medication, behavioral counseling, and environmental modifications to improve the cat’s quality of life.

What are the typical symptoms of FHS?

Typical symptoms of Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome (FHS) include twitching or rippling of the skin on the back, excessive and unusual meowing, drooling, scratching, tail chasing, dilated pupils, and frantic jumping or running. Cats may also exhibit excessive sleepiness, bite or lick themselves intensely, especially on their flanks, lower back, rear paws, bottom, and tail. Additionally, affected cats might show signs of discomfort or pain when petted or held. These symptoms reflect the heightened sensitivity and potential distress experienced by cats suffering from FHS.

How is FHS diagnosed?

Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome (FHS) is diagnosed primarily through the exclusion of other medical conditions that can cause similar symptoms, such as skin issues, parasites, allergies, spinal arthritis, and neurological disorders. A thorough medical history, along with a detailed physical and neurological examination, is essential. Diagnostic tests may include blood work, skin scrapings, imaging studies like X-rays or MRIs, and sometimes allergy testing. By ruling out other potential causes, a veterinarian can arrive at a diagnosis of FHS. If you’re in North Miami Beach, FL, our clinic can provide these diagnostic services to help manage your cat’s condition effectively.

What kind of environmental changes might help manage FHS?

To manage Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome (FHS), environmental changes aimed at reducing stress and providing a calming atmosphere can be beneficial. These changes may include establishing a routine to offer a sense of security, providing safe, quiet spaces for retreat, using pheromone diffusers to promote relaxation, and ensuring ample opportunities for play and exercise to decrease anxiety. Limiting sudden noises and movements that could startle the cat, along with enriching the environment with toys and climbing structures, can also help in managing symptoms and improving the overall well-being of a cat with FHS.

Are there any long-term complications of FHS?

Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome (FHS) itself is not typically associated with long-term physical complications if managed effectively. However, without appropriate treatment and management, the behavioral symptoms can persist or worsen, potentially leading to self-inflicted injuries from excessive licking, biting, or scratching. Chronic stress or anxiety associated with FHS may also negatively impact a cat’s overall well-being and quality of life. Regular veterinary care and tailored treatment plans are crucial to minimize these risks, ensuring cats with FHS can lead comfortable and happy lives.

Do you have questions about your kitty’s health or care? Contact us, your local animal clinic in North Miami, FL!