Feline hyperesthesia syndrome

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Feline hyperesthesia syndrome, also known as rolling skin disease, is a rare[1][citation needed] illness in domestic cats that causes episodes of agitation, self-mutilation, and a characteristic rippling of the skin when touched. It is often described as a seizure disorder but the cause is unknown.


During an episode cats show a number of typical signs, including skin rolling or twitching, compulsive self-grooming, self-directed pouncing, or aggressive behaviour such as biting or attacking the tail. There may also be pupil dilation, vocalisation and a general increase in activity.


The cause of feline hyperesthesia syndrome is unknown. Some experts believe FHS to be a form of epilepsy,[2] while others believe it is a behavioural disorder triggered by trauma. Noting that affected cats tend to be dominating rather than submissive, some research argues that FHS is conflict displacement in which the cat acts out thwarted territorial disputes on its own body.[3]

Although any age, breed, or sex of cat can develop feline hyperesthesia syndrome, those most susceptible include the Siamese, Burmese, and Himalayan breeds.[4]


Treatment includes anti-anxiety medication, anti-depressants such as SSRIs, or sedatives.[2][5] Catnip relieves symptoms during episodes as it provides an opposite effect, like a sedative, in cats with this disorder.[citation needed] Reassuring the cat during an episode keeps them calmer too even though they can appear to be absent and in a trance during episodes.


  1. ^ Brown, Jackie (14 January 2019). "Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome — What Is It and How Do You Treat It?". Catster. Retrieved 8 February 2019.
  2. ^ a b Chris C. Pinney (2003), The Complete Home Veterinary Guide, McGraw-Hill Professional, pp. 351–352, ISBN 0-07-141272-7
  3. ^ Eric Hollander; Dan J. Stein (1997), Obsessive-compulsive disorders: diagnosis, etiology, treatment, Informa Health Care, p. 121, ISBN 0-8247-9856-2
  4. ^ Dewey, Curtis W. (2003), A practical guide to canine and feline neurology, Wiley-Blackwell, p. 442, ISBN 0-8138-1249-6
  5. ^ Rand, Jacquie (2006), Problem-based feline medicine, Elsevier Health Sciences, p. 1016, ISBN 0-7020-2488-0

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