Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome (FHS) is a condition that affects cats.

Grey Cat bends his back

Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome (FHS), also known as rippling skin condition in cats, is often misdiagnosed as normal craziness. It is, however, a neurological condition that may necessitate therapy. Skin twitching, odd vocalizations, and unpredictable behavior are all indicators that might alert you and your veterinarian to the need for medical assistance.

What Is Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome?

Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome (FHS) is a neurological condition in which rippling or shaking skin is the primary symptom (particularly on the back, near the base of the tail). FHS can sometimes emerge as more worrisome behavioral disorders, such as anxiety and generalized agitation.

Symptoms of Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome

To track symptoms that may indicate Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome, consider keeping notes on a calendar, documenting the frequency of twitching or odd behaviors, such as those listed below.


  • Involuntarily rippling or twitching of the skin, particularly on the lower back, accompanied by biting and scratching at the affected area
  • Loud and insistent meowing (often at night)
  • Dilated pupils, glassy eyes
  • Erratic racing in circles or back and forth
  • Extreme sensitivity and discomfort from petting or any physical contact
  • Seizures

The disorder's symptoms all point to a shared neurological etiology that causes hypersensitivity both outwardly (in the skin) and inwardly (in the brain), resulting in anxious behaviors of restlessness and agitation that are difficult to calm down with love. Despite the fact that seizures are an uncommon sign of FHS, they can suggest a dangerous underlying brain issue.

Causes of Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome

A health condition or exposure to a neurological disruptor in the environment might induce Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome. While any cat can be afflicted, Asian breeds including the Siamese, Burmese, Abyssinian, and Persian are more likely to be diagnosed. Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome affects the majority of cats between the ages of one and five years. The following are examples of possible triggers:

  • Pansteatitis: This condition, caused by an excess of unsaturated fatty acids from a high-fish or imbalanced homemade diet, causes abnormal fatty deposits under a cat's skin that can be painful. The uncomfortable fatty deposits create hypersensitivity in the thorax and abdomen, and a cat's skin may twitch or ripple as a result.
  • Brain Involvement: If a cat with FHS experiences seizures, the cause may stem from the brain. Infection, skull trauma, or tumors should be investigated by a veterinarian.
  • Toxic exposure: Environmental or dietary heavy metals such as arsenic or mercury-containing foods or compounds can cause FHS. Flea dips, flea collars, or the ingestion of household cleaning agents and pesticides should also be considered.
  • Flea Allergies: Itchy skin due to flea bites could be cause for erratic behavior in cats, and this potential cause should be relatively easy to rule out by examination of the skin under the coat.

Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome will most likely be linked to OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) or an undefinable stress-related disorder if all of the following explanations have been ruled out.

Diagnosing Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome in Cats

FHS is frequently diagnosed by a process of elimination. A veterinarian will search for factors such as nutrition (abnormal fat consumption and deposition) or trauma if no external stimuli or hazardous exposure can be discovered. Because FHS is frequently idiopathic (caused by no known cause), your doctor may propose dietary changes to improve weight and nutrition, as well as the elimination of environmental stressors, before pursuing additional definitive testing such as x-rays. If seizures have been detected, more testing may be necessary.

Treatment and Prevention

At home, you may help a cat with FSH by removing stresses and giving exercise-based hobbies like interactive play with wand toys. Clicker training, a very successful and enjoyable method of behavioral modification, can be used to increase a cat's activity level and reduce anxiety.

It may be beneficial to remove negative influences and exposures, such as other aggressive pets or loud noises. A change in diet to improve nutrition and (if necessary) weight reduction is also a potential therapy option.

Anti-convulsant medicine, such as phenobarbital, may be recommended on occasion for FSH cats that have seizures, or modest doses of mood-stabilizing pharmaceuticals may be given to assist calm a cat.

Although a cat with Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome will never be completely "fixed" by changes or medicine, you may work with a pet behaviorist to make your cat feel better.

Prognosis for a Cat with Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome

The prognosis for a cat with FHS is determined on the source of the disease. In most circumstances, a change in food or surroundings can help a cat relax. Toxic exposure can cause long-term brain damage, although many cats can recover once the poison is no longer present. The prognosis for brain issues is more hazy, depending on the nature and severity of the problem.

If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.


"Amengual Batle, Pablo et al. Feline Hyperaesthesia Syndrome With Self-Trauma To The Tail: Retrospective Study Of Seven Cases And Proposal For An Integrated Multidisciplinary Diagnostic ApproachJournal Of Feline Medicine And Surgery, vol 21, no. 2, 2018, pp. 178-185. SAGE Publications, doi:10.1177/1098612x18764246", "Hyperesthesia Syndrome. Cornell University College Of Veterinary Medicine." ;