Cats twitch for a myriad of reasons, such as Flea Allergy Dermatitis(FAD). Still, one severe condition which has to be diagnosed after all others are eliminated is Hyperesthesia(Twitch-Skin Syndrome), which is an extreme sensitivity in the feline’s skin, under the back, and toward their tail.
Seeing our pets in pain or having muscle spasms can be quite troubling for cat owners, but thankfully, there is a treatment for the causes, or veterinarians can also treat it as symptomatic.
Here are a few reasons that your cat may be going through twitchy cat syndrome or be displaying behavior modification, medications, and what you can do to help.
Why Does My Cat’s Back Twitch When I Pet Him?
When a cat owner tries to pat their cat on the back area, and their cat reacts immediately, this twitchy cat syndrome is typically noted.
They may respond pleasantly, such as scratching the region themselves, or possibly get aggressive and attempt to bite. It’s possible that the cat’s pupils may dilate, their skin will ripple, and they’ll slobber.
At that or other locations, you may observe a lot of scratching and digging, and many affected felines might try to catch their tails. Some cats may squeal or urinate.
While such a reaction may be undesirable, the real issues are the possible mutilations they may inflict on themselves as a result of it, as well as the underlying sensations, like the discomfort that create it.
Why is my cat Having Muscle Spasms
While some vets believe muscle spasms or feline hyperesthesia is linked to obsessive-compulsive disorders, some researchers think differently.
For instance, at Cornell University, Dr. Alexander de Lahunta, who is a forerunner in veterinary neurology, thinks it has to do with seizures.
The Emeritus Professor who operates from the college’s Veterinary Medicine department says Siamese cats happen to have a congenital vulnerability to this ailment. They firmly believe that feline breeders should not breed cats that have this ailment.
Why Does my cat Twitch When he Sleeps
When we observe our cats twitching, doing stretches, snoring, or making weird sounds when they are sleeping, it’s usually nothing to worry about because they’re all symptoms of REM sleep.
When the cat twitches during sleep, it’s usually due to impulses delivered to the brain throughout the ‘dreaming’ stage.
Some individuals worry that the twitching is a seizure. However, seizures seldom happen while sleeping, and they usually come with other symptoms like the rigidity of the entire body, tiredness, loss of appetite, or vomiting.
If a cat is exhibiting these symptoms, it should be taken to a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Feline Hyperesthesia Symptoms
The skin of a cat’s back swirls from the shoulders to its tail in disorder known as feline hyperesthesia or Twitch-Skin Syndrome. Rippling can even be clearly seen in some cats.
Many pet owners see the following symptoms:
- The cat suddenly looked toward her tail as if something was upsetting her back there.
- Cat attempting to bite or lick the affected region.
- Numerous felines with this syndrome start rushing out of nowhere as if something has frightened or pursued them.
- Muscle spasms and twitching, as well as tail quivering.
- Sensitivity along the back area to the tail.
If a cat has the syndrome, any section in the spine region might be sensitive to touch. He can try to catch his tail, bite himself, hiss at himself, squeal, run, and jump. He might even appear to be hallucinating, trailing the motion of nonexistent objects.
“Twitch Skin Syndrome” Has a Number of Causes
If a cat is exhibiting hyperesthesia symptoms, an initial move is to rule out other possible reasons.
It’s critical to eliminate flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) as a contributing factor. Even one bite from a flea can cause substantial, long-term itching and skin irritation in pets with severe flea allergies.
A hyperesthesia syndrome can be induced or aggravated by dry, itchy skin. Itchiness is more common in dry-food-fed cats.
Seizures are another possible cause of the disease.
Catastrophic hyperesthesia, or feline hyperesthesia, is a form of seizure illness. Grand mal seizures can occur during or shortly after an episode of hyperesthesia in some cats.
It could potentially be a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder(OCD), with fearfulness and/or grooming and/or violence as the obsessions. Seizures have also been linked to obsessive-compulsive behavior.
Another argument is that particular breeds are genetically inclined to develop mania in response to stress.
Oriental breeds appear to have higher levels of hyperesthesia than the overall feline population, and stress appears to be a common trigger for these cats.
Cats with the illness have also been shown to have lesions in their spine muscles, which either cause or might be a part of the hyperesthesia-related sensations and symptoms.
Elderly cat Twitching
We should never reckon that the changes we notice in your senior cat are due to old age and thus untreatable.
Owners of older cats may detect behavioral changes in their cats, but they regard these changes to be an unavoidable and untreatable part of aging.
Any change in the feline’s behavior or physical health, on the other hand, should prompt us to contact our veterinarian.
A cat’s behavior modification can be caused by disease in practically every organ system, as well as any illness that produces discomfort or impairs mobility.
The symptoms of a cat seizure vary based on the origin and severity of the incident. Episodes are usually abrupt, and they can last a few minutes.
You may notice signs such as trembling, loss of consciousness, twitching, or urinating, which can be alarming to observe.
In comparison to dogs, seizures in older cats and cats of any age are more likely to be partial rather than complete. Symptoms vary greatly depending on whatever part of the brain is affected, and they can be pretty mild.
A slight seizure in a cat can cause the following symptoms:
- Twitching of the face
- Tail chasing
- Loud squeals
- Aggressive actions
It might be hard to separate the signs of a cat seizure from other behavioral factors in some situations. Because the signals are so subtle, an episode might sometimes go missing.
Keep a lookout for signs like increased thirst, exhaustion, or relentless pacing, which can occur after a seizure. When our cat’s behavior is unusual, an appointment should be made with our veterinarian to discuss these symptoms.
Try to note when the seizure begins if feasible. Status epilepticus refers to an attack that lasts longer than 5-10 minutes and is deemed a medical crisis. It is then time to make an emergency call to our veterinarian.
How Hyperesthesia is Diagnosed
Other plausible explanations for such episodes must be ruled out before hyperesthesia can be reliably diagnosed. This entails a search for any pain sources in the sensitive region, like arthritis in the spine or skin issues like parasites, allergies, and fungal illnesses.
In a study undertaken at the Cornell University animal hospital, the need for determining the underlying cause was emphasized. It was also noted that “In cats with hyperesthesia, the main objective is to make sure nothing is resulting in the hyperesthesia that they can detect and cure.”
Associate Clinical Professor of Neurology, Dr. Emma Davies, adds that “Intervertebral disc extrusions and a variety of other illnesses can cause hyperesthesia in cats.
We can surely treat it symptomatically if we can’t find a cause. Gabapentin (a commonly used medicine to manage epileptic convulsions) is effective. However, it all relies on the area that they’re experiencing hyperesthesia.
For example, we’ve collaborated with our anesthesia team to administer a local epidural injection to animals suffering from lumbosacral or tail pain.”
Anxiety and stress appear to exacerbate a cat’s hyperesthetic sensitivity. Thus, a therapy strategy may frequently incorporate behavioral components to reduce these. This could include using drugs to adjust your cat’s behavior and setting a routine to help your cat cope with change. Fortunately, the majority of felines can be controlled and live happy, active lives.
A vet should perform a physical assessment on the cat, check the behavioral record, and request a comprehensive blood score, chemical profile, and T4 (thyroid) hormone level test once other suspected causes such as skin illnesses or poisoning have been ruled out. Other diagnostic investigations, including skin testing and x-rays, may be required.
Feline hyperesthesia can be confidently identified when all other possible explanations of the feline’s symptoms are eliminated or treated.
Feline Hyperesthesia Treatment
Feline hyperesthesia syndrome is treated by lowering the cat’s stress levels. Pet doctors advocate giving a well-balanced, species-appropriate diet heavy in animal protein and low in animal fat.
A proper diet will aid in the elimination of any dietary sensitivities she may have, as well as improving the health of her skin and coat. Supplementing with medications like krill oil, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids, is another option.
We must ensure that our cat is at ease in their home environment to prevent stress-related triggers.