Q: Is my cat crazy?

Mary T.

About once a year my normally sedate cat goes “crazy.” The skin on her back ripples, her eyes get huge, and she hates to be touched; she tries to attack her own twitching tail, then runs away from it; she meows pitifully; she stares into space, suddenly seems to see something that isn’t there, and runs some more. Finally she withdraws to a dark place and stays there for days, refusing to eat, before this “spell” passes and she’s back to normal. What should I do?

Chosen Answer

Ask your vet if the cat is suffering Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome (FHS) and hope she grows out of it.

That “hates to be touched” is a clue to hyperesthesia — extreme sensitivity of the skin — and your other reports are classic signs of this poorly understood but fairly common disorder in younger cats. Siamese, Burmese, and Himalayans — between the ages of 1 to 4 years — are the most commonly affected. But Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome is reported, occasionally, in all breeds and mixed breeds.

To worried owners, the cat seems to be having a seizure of some sort — except that the effects of FHS can last for days before they disappear. Cats in the throes of FHS seem to want to escape their own rippling, rolling skin — dashing madly about and retreating, in exhaustion, to a dark, quiet place.

Your veterinarian will want to rule out underlying medical triggers for FHS. (Just getting the FHS cat to the vet clinic can be a daunting task.) You might be told there is no known cause or remedy. Provide food and water where the cat is hiding. Monitor the cat’s condition but avoid unnecessary touching.

Look forward to your cat’s return to normalcy.

Thanks to the vets at BluePearl Veterinary Partners (bluepearlvet.com) for this answer.

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