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Cat with full body muscle spasms

Discussion in 'Cat Health and Nutrition' started by jaclyn reed, Jun 3, 2019.


  1. jaclyn reed

    jaclyn reed PetForums Newbie

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    Hi all,
    I'm new on this thread. I have a cat who has persistent, full body muscle spasms - you can see his muscles moving from across the room it's so bad. He licks and bites at the affected areas and runs around the house at full speed (trying to get away from it).
    At worst this can go on for most of the day with only short breaks for naps because he is so exhausted.
    My vet seems to think this is epilepsy related (we tried a steroid shot and that had no effect so he no longer thinks it is allergy related) but I really don't think this is epilepsy. My cat is always responsive and can sometimes even be briefly distracted by play. He can get a little grumpy when he has had a long episode but who can blame him really.
    He is only 3 years old and already on a hydrolyzed protein diet, so it's not a food allergy.
    If anyone has any idea what could be happening I would really appreciate some ideas, I hate seeing him his way and I don't want to put him on anticonvulsants for no reason.
    Thank you!
     
  2. lorilu

    lorilu PetForums VIP

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    This is most likely Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome FHS. which may or may not be neurological in cause. Anti-seizure meds are often the treatment, if it is severe. Diet changes can be tried first, such as feeding a high quality meat protein based diet, (usually home made) avoiding all the chemicals in processed diets.
     
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  3. jaclyn reed

    jaclyn reed PetForums Newbie

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    I have investigated that... I dismissed it because I have never seen it described to be as severe or long lasting as what my boy has (episodes lasting hours not minutes), but thanks. I'll look into that some more.
     
  4. Paddypaws

    Paddypaws PetForums VIP

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    I totally agree with @lorilu that this is likely to be a severe case of FHS. I would change diet immediately to a balanced home made food but he may well need medication as well. Please keep us posted
     
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  5. kittih

    kittih PetForums VIP

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    It sounds like my boys FHS symptoms. In his case it had a psychological trigger related to certain types of food but sometimes nerve pain can trigger it. In my boys case zylkene a natural calmative found in milk protein in lactating cats really helped as well as avoiding triggers.

    Your cats case sounds severe. From my observations the sensations experienced are uncomfortable and even painful and cats can associate innocent sitiations or objects with these pains which then can trigger further episodes. I recommend a vet visit to discuss options. Take a video of his behaviour with you to the vet as it can be hard to notice issues when an attacck isnt in progress.
     
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  6. lorilu

    lorilu PetForums VIP

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    My experience with FHS was so severe my cat had to take phenobarbital all his life to control it. Actually at the time he was diagnosed with a seizure disorder, because this was long before FHS was recognized. From what I know now, I suspect it was actually FHS. Either way, the phenobarbital was the only choice for him. His episodes started when he was 3.

    Incidentally, epilepsy and seizure disorders often present when a cat is about 3 years old. FHS on the other hand, depending on the cause, may appear at any time. I believe there can be different causes and treatment may depend on cause. However getting him on a better diet is a good place to start.

    I recommend you ask for a referral to a specialist (neurologist)
     
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  7. BarneyBobCat

    BarneyBobCat Slave to an AcroCat

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    I am starting to wonder if Barney does have this after all. His tail flicking is getting a bit worse but he doesn't seem bothered by it and doesnt have any of the other symptoms but I guess he is only just turning 7 months now so it may get worse
     
  8. Calvine

    Calvine PetForums VIP

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    I have a boy who will flick his tail when he is in discomfort (he has recurrent gingivitis despite considerable dental treatment); this is much different from my boy who had epileptic seizures and was on phenobarbital, a very small daily dose. He was actually ''out of it'', foaming at the mouth, wetting himself and even ran into a wall a couple of times.
     
  9. Soozi

    Soozi PetForums VIP

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    It does sound like FHS to me too. How about a second opinion?
     
  10. BarneyBobCat

    BarneyBobCat Slave to an AcroCat

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    Barney does nothing like that. Just an odd flicking tail at the base of his spine
     
  11. jaclyn reed

    jaclyn reed PetForums Newbie

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    Thanks for all the replies.
    My boy has spasms in his tail too but 'flicking' and spasms are somewhat different - he will even attack his own tail because it moves on it's own and I think he forgets it's his tail sometimes.
    I took him back to the vet because his condition was not improving at all and now he has been given phenobarbital. I don't love the idea of giving him such a powerful drug but I can't let him suffer either.
    He has been on a hydrolyzed protein diet for years to control a skin condition that he has had since he was a kitten, and it has been effective for that, but now I'm wondering if his food is causing or contributing to his new problem.
    In any case if I have to pick I think skin lesions are better than muscle spasms/seizures?
    It's a tough call.
     
  12. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    Hi Jaclyn, please be reassured you wouldn't need to choose skin lesions as an option as you could identify your boy's food allergens by putting him on an elimination diet. I had to do this with one of my cats who had chronic dermatitis when I adopted him 7 yrs ago as a rescued stray.

    I identified which meat proteins he is allergic to (in his case, beef, chicken and fish) and also grains, and he is now on a rotated diet that excludes his allergens. He is as right as rain, no more skin lesions.

    He did not get on with the hydrolised RC diet as it contained chicken.

    In case you are interested there is a pinned thread with details of the elimination diet and where to buy the novel protein foods as well as the single protein foods for the second stage of the diet.

    https://www.petforums.co.uk/threads/elimination-diets.509821/

    If you decide to go ahead with the diet at any stage I'd be happy to guide you through the process or answer any questions you may have.

    One of my other cats has FHS. As he has got older (now aged 9) the symptoms have become milder and the attacks are less frequent. He also has been diagnosed with IBD. I did find when I got his IBD symptoms under control about 6 years ago with diet, that it helped reduce his FHS symptoms too. So I think diet can play a part in managing FHS.

    I have also noticed that with him an attack of FHS can be triggered by stress or by hot weather.
     
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  13. lorilu

    lorilu PetForums VIP

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    I can offer some advice regarding the phenobarbital if you would like to have it.

    The very first thing you need to know is that in a few days he will start to seem very dopey. Do not stop his meds, this will pass as his body gets used to it.

    It can take time to find the lowest possible dose to control the break-through episodes. If you want to hear more I will be happy to share my experiences.

    I agree with Chilminx about diet. That "hydrolyzed protein" diet is just so bad for cats. High carbs (41%! DMB. Did you know cats should only have about 2% carbs in their diet?) and chemicals..ugh. But get him stabilized on his meds for now.
     
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  14. lorilu

    lorilu PetForums VIP

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    PS No meat in either brand, Royal Canin or Hills, and of course a dry diet is bad enough. Cats NEED meat and moisture, they cannot thrive without it.

    But I don't want to overwhelm you. One step at a time.

    Does he regurgitate or vomit much?
     
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  15. jaclyn reed

    jaclyn reed PetForums Newbie

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    Hi all, sorry it took so long to get back.
    I took my boy for a second opinion because I was not satisfied with the current one - they took an xray and found a problem with his spine that his new vet feels is probably causing the majority of the issues.
    He wants to put him on gabapentin and see if the problem can be managed that way, if not we will look at other treatments.
    From that you guys have said though I am reconsidering his food - I dont like the food he is on and I will transition him to a meat based diet once he is stable on meds I think.
    Thanks for all your help, it has been really valuable!
     
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