Feline hyperesthesia (twitchy cat disease or rolling skin disease as it is sometimes called) is an exasperating condition for owners, but it must be even more frustrating for the cats themselves. Affected cats will typically undergo episodes of twitching or rippling skin. They will often jerk and look back at the area and appear to be in pain when touched. Their tails may also twitch more than normal, and they may vocalize. Some cats will groom excessively, which may result in hair loss and skin lesions.
While healthy cats sometimes may display a few of these symptoms, cats with hyperesthesia usually experience these symptoms to the extreme. Affected cats often have widely dilated pupils and may act scared, depressed, aggressive, or seek consolation from their owners.
A cat can only be diagnosed with feline hyperesthesia, which appears to be a type of compulsive disorder, once all possible medical causes for the symptoms have been ruled out. A complete dermatological and neurological work up is necessary to make sure that itchiness, partial seizures, and other health conditions aren’t to blame.
Once a cat has been diagnosed with feline hyperesthesia, anti-anxiety medications like Reconcile or Clomicalm alone or in combination with lorazepam can be prescribed to help control the behavior. None of these pet medications are labeled for use in treating feline hyperesthesia, but they can be used under a veterinarian’s supervision. Providing a stress-free home environment with ample opportunities for play, petting, exercise, and mental stimulation is also very important.