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Hyperesthesia syndrome?

Species: Cat
Breed: mixed breed, longhai
Age: 2-5 years
I have a unique situation. Recently I have moved to a new apt 3 hours away from where I found and raised my cat. My cat has developed a skin twitch where the area down his spine twitches and as a result, he bites his paws, legs, and the base of his tail frantically. He then hides in a dark place for hours. I took him to the vet who checked him for fleas, which he did not find. He gave Pebble a steroid shot and said that should clear things up. It has been 3 weeks and he still has these skin twitching episodes. I have spoken with multiple vets and vet techs who have been stumped by this. He eats and drinks regularly as well as has regular bowel movements. Any insight as to what this may be would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

This is a tough question to answer without actually seeing your cat. But, I do have a few thoughts.

You may want to ask your vet about the possibility of something called idiopathic hyperesthesia syndrome. We don't know what causes this, but cats who have this condition will be very sensitive over their back and tail region. It is usually treated with anti-anxiety medication (even if the cat doesn't seem anxious.)

I have also seen cats do this if they have fleas. Even if you can't see any sign of fleas on Pebble, I would recommend treating with a prescription strength flea product.

It's not a bad idea to have your vet do a skin scraping to look for unusual parasites such as demodex mites.

If that doesn't work, a fungal culture for ringworm is a possible test to do as well.

And one final thing I can think of would be to do a trial of some anti-inflammatory medication. I have seen cats that can have similar symptoms because of arthritis pain.

Hopefully that helps!

Dr. Marie.

---This question was asked in our Ask A Vet For Free section.---


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.