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Could Punky have feline hyperesthesia syndrome????

mikischo
August 5th, 2010, 05:46 PM
I have been wondering for some time what could be causing Punky's excessive grooming behaviours. I googled "rolling skin" "fur pulling" and "tail chasing" and came across links leading to feline hyperesthesia syndrome (sometimes referred to by other names such as "rolling skin syndrome" or "twitchy cat disease). I have thought of other things like allergies (still a possibility).

Here is a link to a website on hyperesthesia syndrome:

http://www.cathealth.com/hyperesthesia.htm

Punky displays the following symptoms and behaviours:

Rippling or rolling of the skin over his back often followed by jumping and running a few steps and vigourously licking and sometimes pulling fur from his flank or sides (almost as if something suddenly bite him). He has even been known to suddenly do this when he is in the middle of doing something such as eating. He never vocalizes during these episodes. Every once in a while he will also go in circles chasing his tail. When he catches it, he licks vigourously (usually doesn't bite it) and when he lets it go, he will do it all over again, sometimes for several minutes. We thought a 13 year old cat chasing his tail was kind of cute and funny, but now I'm wondering if it is something else.

When he had his vet check in June we had a complete senior's blood panel done and everything checked out fine.

The other two kitties don't display any of these behaviours.

He was diagnosed as FIV positive when he had his checkup but I don't believe any of these issues are connected to that diagnosis in any way.

When I took him to the vet in June, he had also recently developed four or five sores on his skin on his back and sides that had become crusted and bleeding. The vet prescribed an antibiotic which cleared them right up and there have been no signs of them recurring. I had thought that he might have had a skin disorder that had been causing these behaviours but after the lesions being cleared up by the antibiotic, he still displays these behaviours. I have now come to the conclusion that the skin issues were likely a result of his aggressive grooming rather than vice versa.

I know that there is no diagnosis for feline hyperesthesia other than through the process of elimination of other possible causes. At this point I do not want to put him through a bunch of tests which may not even uncover any underlying issues. He also got very traumatized when he went for the vet visit and I don't want to subject him to any unnecessary visits.

Other than the skin lesions he had a couple of months ago that cleared up with antibiotics (and I am hopeful will not reoccur) he hasn't displayed any physical signs of possible self mutilation. He doesn't even pull out enough fur to create any visible bald spots. However, he really doesn't look all that comfortable when he has these rolling skin episodes.

I think giving him flea medication might be a logical first step although he seldom scratches himself (just licks and pulls fur) and the vet found no evidence of fleas, mites, etc. when he had his checkup.

Does anyone have any ideas about solving this mystery or has anyone experienced something similar?

Floppy Dog
August 5th, 2010, 07:06 PM
Have you changed cleaning products, laundry soap, perfumes, toys, anything like that since these episodes started? Just checking for possible irritants in the environment which may be causing skin irritation without causing an allergic reaction. Turns out my dog was allergict to the fabric softener in a new brand of laundry soap I tried. I got rid of the soap and the skin problems at the same time.

Also, have you purchased new drapes, carpets or furniture? There are many volitiles used in the dying process to fix the pigment into the fabric and some of them can be irritants. Again, our dog was allergict to new door mats I bought. When I got rid of the door mats, I got rid of the problem.

Given your cat's age, (s)he doesn't need to have an allergy to something to get irritated by it.

mikischo
August 5th, 2010, 11:23 PM
Floppy Dog, thanks for the ideas. I agree it does look like something is irritating him badly when these behaviours occur and, as you said, it doesn't have to be an allergy to be irritating him.

However it may not be so easy to pinpoint what it could be for the following reasons: I should have mentioned that this is not something new with Punky. I noticed these things already later last year when Punky first started spending most of his time in my yard (at that time he was pretty much living outdoors). He might have had this issue even longer than that but I wouldn't have noticed. A bit of background: Punky was an indoor/outdoor (mostly outdoor) cat in my neighbourhood for several years. Long story short, the neighbour boys who owned him moved away and asked me to take care of him (he was already in my care at that time). That was last December and he is now mine. So I don't know how long he has had these issues.

He doesn't chase his tail as frequently as he used to and I don't know if the tail chasing was ever part of the problem (just noticed it was mentioned as being sometimes part of this disorder if that's what he has). He doesn't really seem to be in distress when he does the tail chasing (maybe he just likes to chase his tail:shrug:) However, when he does the other things (rippling skin, etc.) he definitely seems to be, at the very least, very uncomfortable. This part of it has, if anything, possible worsened somewhat but it is not new. I may just have to observe things more closely to see if I can see some kind of pattern.

I have already had him dewormed even though there was no evidence of worms. I was thinking, I should also give him a flea treatment even though there is no evidence of fleas and see if anything changes. If that doesn't change anything then I will be looking at other possible allergies or irritants. I've read that many people on here use Revolution or Advantage. Do these products have to be purchased through a vet or can they be gotten cheaper elsewhere? My vet charges an arm and a leg for everything, it seems.:(

catlover2
August 5th, 2010, 11:54 PM
Over the years there has been discussion of this mysterious syndrome. Here's one thread where it is discussed and a vet gives a lot of ideas as to its cause:
http://www.pets.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=16860

Also, if you put hyperesthesia syndrome into the Search Pets.ca you will find a lot of other threads where this has been discussed, so this condition isn't that rare.

I have a 6 y.o. cat that occasionally gets this as well. She's strictly an indoor cat and never has had fleas.

growler~GateKeeper
August 10th, 2010, 10:52 PM
Was Punky's thyroid level checked?

mikischo
August 10th, 2010, 11:06 PM
Catlover, thanks for the links.:thumbs up Yes, there are a number of threads on here about FHS and it took me a while to wade through them. His behaviour does very much resemble the descriptions that others have.

Growler, I don't know if a check for thyroid issues was part of the bloodwork. I requested a senior's panel. I do have a copy of the blood test results. What should I be looking for on the results if there is anything pertaining to thyroid levels?

Edit: If it is supposed to show something like T4 or T3 then I don't see anything like that on the results.

growler~GateKeeper
August 10th, 2010, 11:42 PM
If he had a senior panel it should have been tested for and if they didn't mention it to you it's probably normal :) Look for Thyroxine T4.

mikischo
August 10th, 2010, 11:45 PM
If he had a senior panel it should have been tested for and if they didn't mention it to you it's probably normal :) Look for Thyroxine T4.

There is no mention of T4 or Thyroxine T4 on the sheet. So much for my vet's version of a senior's panel.:(

growler~GateKeeper
August 10th, 2010, 11:54 PM
Depends on the lab, some have it as included & some have it as an add on :shrug:

The main symptoms of HyperT are:
-weight loss despite increased appetite
-increased vocalizing especially at night
-renewed energy, kittenish playing
-fur loss mostly by pulling it out

What tipped me off to Duffy's diagnosis was her yowling at night & racing around the appartment like a kitten, she had not been fur pulling or losing weight & her appetite has increased only minimally

mikischo
August 11th, 2010, 12:27 AM
Depends on the lab, some have it as included & some have it as an add on :shrug:

The main symptoms of HyperT are:
-weight loss despite increased appetite
-increased vocalizing especially at night
-renewed energy, kittenish playing
-fur loss mostly by pulling it out

What tipped me off to Duffy's diagnosis was her yowling at night & racing around the appartment like a kitten, she had not been fur pulling or losing weight & her appetite has increased only minimally

Punky's weight seems to be pretty stable (on the slim side but still considered normal for his size, he was 11.75 lbs. on his vet visit) and he does not overeat. As a matter of fact he has been eating a bit less than usual lately as have the others, possibly due to the high temperatures we are having lately. He seldom vocalizes. Normal play. No extra playfulness at night.

The only thing I see here of the above symptoms is the fur pulling. When he exhibits these behaviours I would not describe them as playfulness. He seems to be bothered by something almost like something is irritating or biting him although the tail chasing part may just be play because he doesn't seem uncomfortable when he does that. In any case he doesn't seem to chase his tail as often as he used to but the other symptoms continue, even interrupting his meals at times.

The only thing on his bloodwork that was out of the normal range was his potassium level (6 on a reference level of 3.5 to 5.8, not significant enough to be of concern).:shrug:

growler~GateKeeper
August 11th, 2010, 12:41 AM
Sounds like you can rule out HyperT then :thumbs up