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Dr.Fiona, Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 6273
Experience:  Small animal medicine and surgery for 16 years in BC, California and Ontario
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my cats skin sometimes jumps and twitches like she has an

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my cat's skin sometimes jumps and twitches like she has an uncontrolable nervous tic. Then she chews and licks furiously. Sometimes she races around as if trying to get away from it. She gets Revolution monthly and her diet is Hills Science Z/D low alergen. Is there something else I can do to help her. She seems to be miserable when these attacks occur. I have wondered if the Hills hypoallergenic cat treats may be a contributing factor.
Hi there,

Welcome to Just Answer! I would be happy to help you and your cat with this question, but need a bit more information in order to better assist you.

How old is your girl?

When did this start?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
She is 5 years old. 2 years ago, after she had licked all the fur off her tummy and hind legs the vet suggested Science Diet. It seemed to work and the fur grew back... this spring I noticed that she was having what appeared to be some kind of attack where her skin would ripple and jump over and over as she became more and more frantic looking. She has begun licking at her tummy again too but hasn't managed to make it nude yet. I hope to prevent that if I can.
Ah... that is helpful!

And has there been anything stressful in your cat's world in the last few months (a move, a visitor, renovations, etc)?

I have included some links to videos. Look closely at how the skin ripples over the back and hind quarters.

Is this what your cat is doing?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Thank you . Thank you. That is exactly how Grits behaves when her skin is rippling and jumping. It is the first time I've seen a name for it. What can I do to help her?
A-HA!! Videos are SOOOOOOOO helpful for things like this!

I need about 10 min to write up a detailed andswer for you and Grits... be right back!

Hi again,

What you are describing with rippling and licking and twitching of the tail is very suggestive of something called feline hyperesthesia syndrome (FHS).



With FHS any breed can be affected but Siamese, Burmese, Himalayans, and Abyssinians are the most common. It often starts when the cat is between 1 and 4 years of age.





Before your cat can be diagnosed as definitely having FHS, your veterinarian would need to rule out a few other possible causes for this behaviour. These would be fleas, seizures, allergies and bladder inflammation (some cats behave like this when the bladder area is uncomfortable).






There is no specific test for FHS. Instead, it is a "diagnosis of exclusion" which means that we have to rule out other problems first.





It is sometimes triggered by a stressful event (a move, a new pet, a new roommate). If you look back to when this FIRST started, was there a stressful event? A visit to the vet for some illness, or it could be *your* illness if you have been sick. This could be something that stressed her.




Treatment can be difficult, and varies from behavioural management (tapping him on the hind end when an episode starts to distract him) to medications.




Some people have had success with acupuncture.



Treatment also involves trying to minimize the stress in your cat's life. One of the things that I would strongly recommend is a Feliway Diffuser system. This is a plug-in device that sprays a cat pheromone into the air, helping to calm the cat without drugs.


Here's a link to more information:



I find the plug-in diffuser to be the most helpful if the cat is indoors since it works even when you are not there, which is when your cat is most likely to feel stressed. In your situation, the spray might be more effective, and you could use it to spritz her outside bed.





If this does not work, your veterinarian could prescribe a number of different like drugs for cats. As with humans, sometimes it takes a while to find the best medication for relieving your cat's stress, and you might have to try 2 or 3 different drugs before finding what works for your cat. Usually, medications are only used when the problem is severe.



For more information, here are links:





So, in terms of what you can do for your cat, one very easy thing would be to treat her with Advantage or Frontline in case she has a couple of fleas driving her crazy. I admit that is not likely since you haven't seen any evidence, but it is so easy to treat her for that it's worth doing so we can at least cross that off the list of possible problems. Revolution is a good flea control BUT the flea has to bite the cat in order to be killed with Revolution, whereas Advantage and Frontline kill before the flea bites.




Also, try distracting her when an episode starts by clapping, shaking a can half filled with pennies, tapping her on the back end, or squirting her with a spray bottle. This may stop her in her tracks!



Also, you could take a video of her having an episode. As you can see from the links I gave you, videos are worth even more than one thousand words! They really are helpful to diagnose FHS.

Furthermore, a source of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids can help to decrease inflammation and dermatitis. I would suggest that you consider a dietary source of essential fatty acids (Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids) daily added to the food.

Your vet would be able to provide these for you - some brands here in Canada are DermCaps and EFA-Z.

Here is more about them:



Another option would be to give her a very safe anti-anxiety mixture called Composure Liquid from Vetri Science. It is composed of a protein extract from a milk product and a soy product plus a few other things. It seems to work great for cats that are stressed.

Another thing that you could try would be Rescue Remedy.
More about it here:

It is pretty widely available at health food stores. If you don't have one near you, here is a link:

I have found the results variable with Rescue remedy. Some cats do seem more relaxed with Rescue Remedy, some don't seem to have any change with its use. But it is safe!

Good luck with your cat!Hope that this helps!

If this has been helpful, please Accept my answer and leave feedback.

I will still be here to provide more information if you need it!

The above is given for information only. Although I am a licensed veterinarian, I cannot legally prescribe medicines or diagnose your pet's condition without performing a physical exam. If you have concerns about your pet I would strongly advise contacting your regular veterinarian.


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