Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome

Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome, also known as FHS, is a rare neurological condition that affects cats. It’s associated with episodes of excessive grooming, biting or scratching at their own skin, dilated pupils, and twitching their tail. These symptoms are often preceded by a period of agitation or restlessness.

The exact cause of FHS is not fully understood, but it’s believed to be related to abnormal activity in their nervous system. Some possible triggers include stress, anxiety, or changes in their environment or routine.

Symptoms of Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome

The symptoms of FHS can vary from cat to cat and could be mild or severe. Some common signs to look out for include:

  • Excessive grooming, biting or scratching at their own skin
  • Dilated pupils
  • Twitching their tail
  • Restlessness or agitation before an episode
  • Sudden bursts of energy or activity
  • Vocalizations such as yowling or meowing
  • Sensitivity to touch or sound
  • Tail chasing or spinning in circles

Diagnosing Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome

Diagnosing FHS can be challenging because there are no specific tests or diagnostic tools available. A veterinarian will perform a physical exam and blood work to rule out other possible causes of their symptoms. They might also need to observe the cat’s behavior during an episode to help with diagnosis.

Stages of Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome

Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome can be split into three stages: prodromal, attack, and post-attack.

Prodromal Stage:

This is the initial stage of FHS where the cat will have restlessness, anxiety, and agitation. The cat might start grooming themself excessively or become hypersensitive to touch or sound. This stage can last for several minutes to hours before progressing to the next stage.

Attack Stage:

During this stage, your cat can have sudden bursts of activity, such as biting or scratching at their own skin, dilated pupils, and twitching their tail. The cat could vocalize loudly and appear disoriented or confused. This stage can last from a few seconds to a few minutes.

Post-Attack Stage:

After an episode, your cat can appear exhausted and might sleep for several hours. Some cats will also have signs of fear or anxiety after an attack.

Treating Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome

There is no cure for FHS, but there are several treatment options available to help manage their symptoms and improve your cat’s quality of life. The treatment plan will depend on the severity of the condition and can include a combination of medications and behavior modification techniques.


Antidepressant or anticonvulsant medications can be prescribed to help reduce your cat’s anxiety and prevent or decrease the intensity and frequency of their FHS episodes.

Behavior modification

Environmental changes, such as reducing stressors in your cat’s environment or giving them more stimulation can help reduce the frequency and severity of their FHS episodes. Training techniques, such as positive reinforcement training, can also help modify unwanted behaviors.

Preventing Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome

Unfortunately, there is no known way to prevent FHS from occurring in cats. Giving your cat a stable and stress-free environment can help reduce the likelihood of triggering an episode. Regular veterinary check-ups can also help detect and treat any underlying medical conditions that might contribute to their FHS symptoms.