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Cat shaking head and back twitching

Discussion in 'Cat Health and Nutrition' started by Roisin McCarthy, Aug 16, 2019.

  1. Roisin McCarthy

    Roisin McCarthy PetForums Newbie

    Aug 16, 2019
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    hello cat lovers!
    My cat started to suddenly shake his head, followed by lots of twitching on his back and tail 2 days ago. This is followed by lots of licking his back and sometimes little erratic runs, almost like he has got a fright. It happens regulary throughout the day, especially the grooming thing.

    I took him to the vet on tuesday night - no issues with ear/eyes/throat and all of his bloods are clear so far. there is one last test due back to day. If thats clear, the next step is the neurologist. He is still eating/drinking/roaming as usual and is in general good form, albeit he is a bit scared in the mornings when these little fits happen.

    Does anyone have any experience of this? from lots of wild googling it sounds like it could be hyperesthesia but that doesnt usually include the shaking head symptom.

    many thanks,
    A frantic cat mum
  2. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

    Nov 22, 2010
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    Hi @Roisin McCarthy and welcome :)

    I agree it is a very scary thing to observe when a cat starts having these symptoms. It sounds exactly like Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome (FHS) to me, as you suggested. Head shaking is not uncommon in FHS.

    Two of my cats have FHS, the young one age 6) has it mildly. The older one (aged 9) used to have quite bad attacks of FHS when he was younger but attacks have become milder and less frequent as he has got older, I am pleased to say.

    Both cats started the symptoms when they were young adult cats, around the age of 1 yr to 18 months old. How old is your cat?

    I found that diet played a part with my older cat and I put him on an elimination diet and identified rabbit, beef and fish as being allergens in his case. He now eats a diet based on turkey, chicken and lamb.

    When he starts having an episode of FHS he gets very frightened by the symptoms and I find it helps to soothe him by talking to him quietly and stroking his head and neck, or I distract him with his favourite treats. But when he used to have more severe attacks it was best to leave him alone to calm down. Which he always did within 5 minutes.

    I have also found the FHS episodes to be more common in both cats, in warm weather. In the past my older cat would come running in from the garden upset, in the throes of an FHS attack during the warm summer weather. He had a couple of minor episodes in the recent heatwave we had in the UK. Keeping him cool is important, and to that end I've purchased a couple of portable air conditioners.

    Mine were not referred to a neurologist. The vet diagnosed the older cat and I diagnosed the younger cat myself from the symptoms. There is no medical treatment although if it is very severe the vet will prescribe barbiturates, as would be prescribed for epilepsy. FHS is believed to be related to epilepsy possibly, although there is no definite agreement on this.
  3. Ottery

    Ottery Cat Lady

    Jun 14, 2019
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    One of my cats used to have this, it seemed to go in phases, it would happen for a month or two and then disappear. He didn't have the head-shaking though. I would either distract him with food, or if we wanted to rest I'd put a blanket over him so he could sleep - he seemed to find the blanket comforting. It is upsetting watching it, isn't it.
    Soozi and Veronica Chapman like this.
  4. Daria

    Daria PetForums Newbie

    Aug 14, 2019
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    What kind of head shake is it? My beloved cat used shake his head to left and right very slowly and walk in circles... Most likely he had problems with his brain. In the end, he also suffered from seizures - he used to lie down on his back and slowly move his paws and head. Unfortunately his health quickly deteriorated and I had to say goodbye to him within 10 days from initial symptoms. He also had a problem with maintaining his balance and a head tilt, so it does sound different to what your cat is suffering from. His bloods were clear apart from slight signs of infection, I was trying to collect money for an MRI while waiting on results... Within his last 24h he suddenly started loosing control of his cranial nerves and passed away (euthanised) before his last blood results - toxoplasmosis (which he did not have). He had a great appetite until he was not able to eat. I miss him every.single.day. I suggest carefully observing your cat and booking in with a neurologist ASAP if your cat's episodes keep on reoccurring or his medicine does not work.
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