We know that grooming is very important for cats, but that behavior should be moderate. When it becomes compulsive, it could be a reflection that your pet is suffering from hyperesthesia syndrome in cats.
Hyperesthesia in cats: what is it?
Feline hyperesthesia is a rare syndrome in these animals, but they are not exempt from suffering from it. It supposes an alteration of the neuromuscular system, which causes an abnormal increase in the sensitivity of the skin.
It can occur in cats of any age regardless of their breed. However, a common characteristic is that it is usually observed in felines that are very nervous or with high levels of stress.
Causes of hyperesthesia in cats
The trigger for this syndrome is not 100% confirmed by experts, but it is usually associated with stress or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Other professionals affirm that it could be related to epilepsy since the animal sometimes suffers seizures during the episodes.
This pathology could be triggered by problems with electrical activities that occur at the brain level and that are responsible for controlling predatory behavior, emotions, and grooming.
Some studies have revealed that felines suffering from hyperesthesia have injuries to the spine, which are what cause or contribute to causing discomfort in this area.
Symptoms of feline hyperesthesia
The truth is that the symptoms can be noticed with some ease in some specimens, however, in others not so much. For this reason, the role of your guardian is essential, so that you are attentive to the signs:
- When these episodes occur, the cat suffers muscle spasms in the back.
- The animal repeatedly licks its back and tail area.
- Because of this, wounds may appear in the area.
- Its fur ripples from shoulder to tail.
- They wag their tails quickly and aggressively.
- His pupils dilate.
Having one of these seizures only lasts a few seconds or a few minutes, and then the cat runs off as if someone is chasing it. Other signs that can alert the cat owner are:
- Seizures during or after the attack.
- Cats act as if something is attacking their back, so they lick themselves excessively, they can bite and even pull their hair.
It is a very exasperating disorder for the animal, even if it lasts for a short time.
Diagnosis of feline hyperesthesia
The diagnosis of the disease is obtained through tests that rule out other types of diseases that cause similar symptoms and behaviors.
Some of these pathologies could be parasites, musculoskeletal pain, or dermatological problems.
It is essential that if you detect any of the aforementioned symptoms that may indicate hyperesthesia in cats, you go with your pet to a veterinary center. The professional will proceed to carry out a general examination of the animal while observing and asking questions about its behavior.
As for the tests to be carried out, normally a complete blood count, thyroid hormone analysis, and biochemistry are included.
It is also important to investigate if you have allergic dermatitis and other skin problems, as well as problems that cause pain in your spine, joints, or muscles, such as trauma or tumors.
Treatment of feline hyperesthesia
Feline hyperesthesia has no cure as such and its treatment is based on reducing stress and changing the cat’s environmental patterns.
For this, it will be essential to follow some guidelines that give the cat a calm and healthy environment. Among these guidelines are the following:
- Provide a correct environmental enrichment for the cat.
- The use of pheromones in cats may be recommended for relaxation.
- If the feline suffers from separation anxiety, it must be treated to accustom him to your absences.
- Take time to play with your cat every day.
- If there is more than one pet in the home, then you have to separate the areas for each animal. Cats are very territorial and do not do well when occupying their space.
- Provide catnip or catnip.
- Don’t override their feline instincts.
- Maintain a daily routine: feeding at the same time, cleaning, fresh water, and cleaning his litter box.
- Do not try to manipulate the cat if he does not want to be disturbed.
- Provide scrapers of various types.
Sometimes the vet may recommend some type of treatment to reduce anxiety, but that will only be the professional’s decision. Never medicate your pet on your own.