Welcome to PetForums

Join thousands of other pet owners and pet lovers on the UK's most popular and friendly pet community and discussion forum.

Sign Up

Extreme anxiety / hyperesthesia. Really worried!

Discussion in 'Cat Health and Nutrition' started by Ali82, Mar 24, 2011.


  1. Ali82

    Ali82 PetForums Senior

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2011
    Messages:
    657
    Likes Received:
    11
    Hi,

    I posted yesterday about a new cat I have now had for about a fortnight, she is a two year old Siamese. We had her from a rescue centre where she was only there a couple of days, at her old home she had a litter of kittens but was spayed some months ago. She seems to have been well looked after, she is a good weight and all her vaccinations are up to date, we even had an email passed on to us from her previous owner asking how she was and enclosing some cute photos. The reason we are told she was re-homed is because her previous owners had three other cats which she would constantly attack. Since we had her she has been really affectionate although a bit skittish, , she sleeps under the duvet, she will come and lie with us whilst watching TV and always follows us around the house miaowing (as siamese do) but if there's a knock on the door or a loud bang she will run off and hide for a short while.

    Last night we got home from work and she ate her tea fine and was acting perfectly normal, we nipped to the gym for an hour and when we got back it was like she had gad mad. Her eyes were massive, she was tearing around everywhere, constantly biting herself and breathing really fast. As the night wore on things got worse she would stop for a while and sit down but her back would start tensing and rippling then her tail would start flying all over the place and she would constantly bite her back and tail so hard it was making her yelp if we tried to calm her down or stroke her she would bite us instantly (she has never even looked like biting us before). I was really worried so we phoned the out of hours vet service who said to leave her alone to settle down and if things didn't improve to bring her in or in any case take her in in the morning. I also took a look on the internet (I know we perhaps shouldn't but we all do) and found out about something called feline hyperesthesia which I hadn't heard of but appeared to fit exactly with the behaviour she was portraying and it is said Siamese are more prone than other breeds. In the early hours she did seem to settle a bit, she was hidden under the bed but didn't seem to be too distressed. Early this morning she came to lie with me in bed, she was constantly licking her entire body for hours and still occasionally attacking her tail but I covered her back end with the duvet and she settled down a bit although she didn't sleep at all.

    When we got up this morning it all started again and she was back biting her tail and running around manically, she wouldn't touch her food but ate a couple of dreamies and I saw her take a small drink.

    We took her to the vets and the vet examined her and could see no obvious physical cause. As is sods law when we got there she had stopped the back rolling and biting and was just cowering and obviously very scared (I hope we did the right thing taking her). We had treated her with Stronghold a week ago so the vet said that fleas were unlikely. We were told that as she was obviously quite nervous by nature and the symptoms may be some kind of defense mechanism to cope with the anxiety she has suffered with changing homes and being at a rescue centre etc. We were told to install a Feliway diffuser which we have done and just monitor the situation to see if she would settle down.

    When we got home she seemed a bit scared and ran and hid under the bed, I have had my girlfriends parents come round to keep an eye on her whilst we are at work. They have told me she stayed under the bed for a couple of hours but came out and had a small amount of food and came to them for some attention but within about 10 minutes her back started twitching and she started biting herself again and quickly ran off to hide under the bed.

    We are beside ourselves with worry, we have only had her a short while but she has quickly become one of the family and we both really love her. Has anybody else experienced anything similar and did things get better? She just appears so distressed and we feel so useless we really don't know what to do and how we can make things better for her.
     
    #1 Ali82, Mar 24, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2011
  2. hobbs2004

    hobbs2004 PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2010
    Messages:
    10,707
    Likes Received:
    410
    Hello Ali82, welcome to the forum! We don't get many stories of FHS on here. In addition to biting her tail, does she have the rippling on her back and is she sensitive to being stroked on her back?

    Other peeps on here, e,g, Ianthi or Doolally, will hopefully know more. The only thing I really know is that it is indeed more common in Siamese cats and that it can be triggered by stress. So, a Feliway diffuser around the house might help, as might Zyklene. Not sure whether some distraction might help too when she is having an episode? I know that other people start playing with their cats in a gentle manner (though some also use the da bird lol) or that they pick up their cats and gently talk to them.

    If it is indeed FHS then it is going to be trial and error to see what calms your cat I guess.

    Best of luck and I hope someone more knowledgeable will be along in no time!



    PS: Could it be aggravated by her food? Just a stab in the dark really....
     
  3. Ali82

    Ali82 PetForums Senior

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2011
    Messages:
    657
    Likes Received:
    11
    Hi Hobbs,

    Thank you for the response, yes she does have the rippling on the back, i'm not sure if she is sensitive specifically to being stroked she seems to be sensitive to all touch and trys to bite. We did try to distract her by playing with her (there's absolutely no way she would allow us to pick her up), at one point we spent over an hour playing with her fish on string and it certainly seemed to help at the time but as soon as we stopped she got worse again. The thing that concerns me most is that when most websites describe FHS they describe it as only lasting for a few minutes whereas she's been suffering for almost a day, i'm worried she isn't sleeping or drinking much.

    As for diet, the rescue centre told us they had been feeding her Royal Canin Siamese (i'm not sure what she was fed on at her old home), we are feeding her a mix of Royal Canin Siamese dry food and wet food, mainly Sheba because that's what we started feeding her on. After reading the threads on here I ordered some Grau and I have been trying to ween her on to it but it's a bit of a slow process because she prefers the Sheba by far.
     
  4. Ruggy

    Ruggy PetForums Junior

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2011
    Messages:
    30
    Likes Received:
    0
    I think you should get her back to the vets. Unfortunate that she stopped doing it when she was there and the vet couldn't see first hand. Could you maybe film her on your mobile the next time she is doing it and even show that to the vet if she stops again the next time you take her?
     
  5. hobbs2004

    hobbs2004 PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2010
    Messages:
    10,707
    Likes Received:
    410
    I think recording her episodes is great idea! And definitely go back if there is no change whatsoever, it is getting worse or you find seeing her like too distressing. Did they mention Zyklene? When you were there, did they suggest taking some blood to rule out other, non-neurological things? Is your cat insured? Just wondering because I guess if it is FHS then it is perhaps more of case for a feline neurologist than a bog-standard vet.

    I am not surprised she is dragging her paws a little - that is quite a switch from sheba to grau.
     
  6. Ali82

    Ali82 PetForums Senior

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2011
    Messages:
    657
    Likes Received:
    11
    I am a bit reluctant to keep taking her to the vets as she obviously finds it traumatic, I will definitely try and film her though. The vet said that she had been through a lot in the repeated moves and it would be better to try and monitor her before trying out any medications. They didn't take any blood but they did say to ring tomorrow to let her know how she was, I think she was mindful not to stress her anymore and only look at more invasive things once she's calmed down. I have taken out insurance but I'm not quite sure where we stand with that as it has a standard clause that the insurance doesn't cover any condition which is either pre existing or onsets within the first ten days of the policy starting (other policy's were 14 days); I took it out on 14th March she started late last night / early hours of this morning so if the 14th is classed as the first day then yesterday would be day 10 and today day 11. That said I don't have buckets of money but if necessary I will do all I can to stump together the money to cover any medication / fees that are required.

    I know what you're saying about the Grau it does look a little bland lol
     
  7. Doolally

    Doolally PetForums Senior

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2010
    Messages:
    983
    Likes Received:
    34
    I've only actually known one cat with hyperaesthesia (that had been diagnosed and treated) she was on gabapentin and phenobarbitone daily for years once diagnosed,and she very rarely had a flare up

    The trouble with FHS is I think it's only really diagnosed by ruling out other things. If it does keep on, the first sensible step would be to have bloods and xrays and a full neuro exam to try and rule out pain. The cat I knew even had an MRI to rule out anything else.

    FHS can be triggered by stress and it's a big deal for any cat moving to a new home, especially a sensitive siamese. So get the feliways plugged in, by all means try Zylkene as it won't hurt, and keep a diary and film any episodes she has.
     
  8. Ianthi

    Ianthi PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2008
    Messages:
    4,208
    Likes Received:
    110
    Dolally is right-it is only diagnosed by ruling out other things ie there is not specific test for it. I agree with what you vet says though and I've no doubt the moving etc is at the root cause of it. There's every chance as she settles into her new environment though things could improve. Considering she was OK for the first few weeks I wonder if there was anything that could point to a specific trigger on the night in question? Useful to know this.

    If hyperesthesia is the case though ( and it sounds likely from what you describe ) I would doubt very much is this is the first instance of it and she has probably suffered from this or similar in her previous home. I would make enquiries about this.
     
  9. chandy

    chandy PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2011
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi Ali,
    I joined this forum because of your letter. I was searching also for help, but I am a bit ahead of you!! My cat developed this about 10 months ago. He is a Balinese (long haired Siamese) and 13 years old. I also have his sister.
    At first I thought his behaviour was fleas. I dosed the house twice! I thought his manic episodes were down to being playful. We laughed at his "wall of death" racing around the house. But the tail lashing and back twitching got worse. He was in and out of the vets, (who offered NO diagnosis) had all the blood tests etc to no avail. Eventually, through the web, mainly in USA, I discovered Hyperesthesia.
    Chandy is not classic. He does not bite his tail, but he does groom his flanks obsessively and twitches. Sometimes he leaps straight up in the air. He cannot relax when he has an episode; will come in and out, go up and downstairs, on and off beds, constantly meowing and unable to settle. It breaks my heart! I have tried distractions, toys, food etc. Nothing works. He still eats well, and eventually I will find him relaxed and sound asleep on his bed for hours...so there are breaks. Ive got the feliway infuser, Ive also started, last month, Zylkene, and still no improvement. Some days he is good, and others like today, he is manic. (Yes, mad huge black eyes like yours!)
    The Americans use strong drugs; Prozac and others. I can't bear the thought. Last week I contacted the Balinese Cat society hoping the breeders would help. So far I've not found any of them who even know about it!
    I keep hearing it is about nerves and stress and anxiety. Changes in the household....like what? What constitutes a change in the environment? A new dishwasher arriving? The really interesting thing is; this cat was SOOOOOOO laid back my daughter could put baby clothes on him!!!! His sister, on the other hand was always a nervy little thing who couldn't relax. SHE has no signs of this at all. I do not believe it's stress or anxiety. I don't believe it is food either. There were no changes made before/around his developing this.
    I think I know what has not caused it, but no idea what has. I will continue to search. Try all the USA sites, and lets keep in touch.
     
  10. Ali82

    Ali82 PetForums Senior

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2011
    Messages:
    657
    Likes Received:
    11
    Hi,

    I just thought I would give everyone an update. She seems to have had a better day today, she slept well last night and hasn't hidden once. Although she has still had a good few episodes of tail biting, back twitching, ear twitching and frantic self grooming (she spends ages licks her front paws, back and tail). Her diarrhea has started again, I suppose this is most likely because of the stress or my fault because i've cut out the dry food as I was worried she wasn't drinking much and was going to wear herself out.

    The rescue centre contacted me today and said they had spoken to their vet and she has seen a similar reaction twice to Selamectin. We did Stronghold her Saturday morning and he thought particularly if she had been treated by her previous owners just prior to leaving with either Stronghold or another flea treatment then there is a possibility it is a bad reaction (the lady at the rescue centre contacted her previous owner and she was treated just before they brought her so about 10 days before we treated her). She was fine for 4 days after though and most things i've read say it is virtually impossible to overdose so i'm not sure how likely this is.

    Ianthi- I have racked my brain and can't think of anything that could have been a specifc trigger. My dad did come to check on her in the day and she hasn't seen him before but we came home for a couple of hours before we went out to the gym and she was fine then. Unless she scared herself falling off something or getting stuck somewhere etc there's nothing else I can think of.

    Chandy- Other than the tail biting we can certainly relate to your descriptions paritcularly the not being able to settle / relax. My cat is constantly prowling around, she'll sit down for a second, lick herself or twitch and bite her tail, then react all startled jump back up run off and start prowling around again and this has gone on for hours. I'd be interested how you get on with the Zylkene, a few people have suggested this to me, I am told it generally takes three weeks before you see any improvement so I wouldn't give up on it yet. We should definitely keep in touch and i'll let you know if we find anything that helps.
     
    #10 Ali82, Mar 25, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2011
  11. mrswoodwoose

    mrswoodwoose PetForums Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2011
    Messages:
    117
    Likes Received:
    3
    I just wanted to say that we often think any anti-depressants are "strong" or "bad" drugs, but the off list use may be a small dose, i.e. below the therapeutic dose for depression and I wonder if your emotional response to this drug is preventing you from providing your cat with perhaps a good treatment option? If it would help your cat surely that is better than the symptoms I am reading about, all which seem pretty distressing to the poor cat. Of course, as with any drug, there might be unwanted side -effects and I am not dismissing these but I think it's an option worth exploring.
     
  12. Ianthi

    Ianthi PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2008
    Messages:
    4,208
    Likes Received:
    110
    I agree and was just about to post something similar! Considering the dose for a cat would be minute compared to the human equivalent it's certainly worth considering even as an 'experimental' option. Also the vet might be able to recommend an alternative.

    We have to remember not to apply our experiences with human medicines to animals. Chemotherapy is another drug that often falls into this category where, owing to the side-effects witnessed in people ( mainly because of the much larger doses ) people tend to be prejudiced when it's suggested in animal therapy. Cats tolerate it much better than humans-often with spectacular results, in lots of cases leading to remission.

    Quite often the disease makes them much more ill than the chemo!
     
  13. Ali82

    Ali82 PetForums Senior

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2011
    Messages:
    657
    Likes Received:
    11
    Well, after previously seemingly making progress she's not been too good the last couple of days, she's been hidden under the bed almost all day. She is coming out occasionally and still eating well but as soon as she's done her ears and back start twitching and she starts biting her tail and then runs off to hide. I've observed her whilst she's hidden and she does settle down and the symptoms seem to all but go away. We really don't know what to do now and I'm finding this so distressing:sad: I really want to take her back to the vets to try and rule out other causes but if it is stress related as the vet thinks then the stress of taking her is only going to make her worse. I think i'm almost as stressed out as her lol
     
  14. AlbertRoss

    AlbertRoss PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2009
    Messages:
    1,781
    Likes Received:
    143
    If you take her to the vet and 'forget' the 'late last night' and substitute 'early hours of the morning' you should be fine. Which insurance do you have?
     
  15. Ali82

    Ali82 PetForums Senior

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2011
    Messages:
    657
    Likes Received:
    11
    Hi AlbertRoss

    I have dropped you a pm on the insurance, I usually get back from the gym about 11pm and I did have a shower and get my stuff ready for the following day before I noticed her so I think it's fair to say it probably was early hours of Thursday morning.
     
  16. chandy

    chandy PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2011
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi Ali,
    I heard back from the Balinese Cat Society. They have a 'friendly' vet who sent this through. I have copied it exactly. I am going to try the allergy route first, although because his sister shows no signs I doubt it could be. The ONLY difference between them is that he goes out and she does not!
    Does your cat go out? The USA sites suggest that the cat is hallucinating when he has an episode. I certainly think that could be the case when he comes crashing through the cat flap like a lunatic from my tiny patio garden, ... like the hound from hell is chasing him! (My garden has a 15 foot wall around it and nothing else gets in!) Do you have cat mint around? Its about a year since this started and he is no better, but no worse.

    From her vet:
    - Demodex??? – natural skin mite, that some cats devlop an oversensitivity too, mite is active at certain times of day + heat, à only certain
    products kill it, i.e. normal frontline doesn't work. its a usual commensal, that sometimes triggers a reaction.
    - Woollen carpet allergy --> not usually just evenings tho (presents similarly)
    - Meningitis?
    - Metal toxicity - cheap water bowls from china, bird cages ...
    - Drinking central heating fluid from leaky pipes
    - Slug pellets
    - Vestibular ear disease / severe ear mites
    (Have seen cats treated with accupuncture and vallarium (herbal tx) in practice when ddx couldnt be determined.)
    Having checked the Merck Vet Manual:
    - It agrees to dermatological complaints, metal toxicities, slug pellets
    - it also suggests behavioural problem - ie anxiety,
    Hyperesthesia is well known - it was taught to us at vet sch, not particuarly
    associated with orientals in our teaching - but then proportionally its a rare
    dx, and orientals walking though the door are also rare - so maybe not something linked yet. i havent looked at the US stuff. i just remember being
    told by the hair + skin lecturer that true hyperesthesia, and pshycholgenic grooming are v v rare. it is usually just that you havent found the allergy yet
    or other main cause. More often than not, it is hyper-sensitivity to food, and
    precipitates in patches where cats sweat, and then get itchy. Often its
    chicken fats.
    Its funny, i remember seeing a cat that periodically went hair on end at exactly 7-8 every night, had an hour of madness, then looked normal but
    sparse haired. Turned out it was 2 hours after being fed iams... remove the food to non chicken flavoured something else - miraculas recovery. most
    bizarre. food allergies are rare though. Demodex is far more common. if it is
    demodex, atopica works well as a rule out. cheaper tx is to get rid of
    the mites though - there is a specific spot on that treats demodex (mite be advocat???),but usually the best method is aludex - horrid stuff OPhosphate
    (and cats hate being bathed). problem is that demodex are commensal
    mites (even me+u have them in our eyebrow region), they are hard
    to get rid of. they are easy to detect though, you have to squeeze the skin to get them out, but they then stick to sellotape quite well, tiny white/clear
    icecreamcone shaped things.
    if it is allergy based, a very safe, and v cheap option is piriton. It has no LT
    sideeffects proven in cats yet, that said it is off licence use. the only thing
    is that the cat must be kpet inside, some cats can be slightly drowsy on it, and not good if trying to cross roads etc. might be the answer. -->
    phytopica chinese herb, is also said to be good for cat allergies - but i have never looked it up im afraid, or used it, as piriton is cheaper/in practice.
     
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice