Is Rippling Skin a Sign of Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome?

by beaconpet
Is Rippling Skin a Sign of Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome?

Have you observed unusual behaviors in your cat, such as skin rippling or twitching, accompanied by peculiar actions like loud meowing or erratic racing? These signs may suggest that your furry friend is experiencing Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome (FHS), also known as rippling skin disorder. While these behaviors might initially be perceived as typical feline conduct, they could indicate an underlying neurological disorder requiring prompt medical attention. In this article, we will delve into the nature of FHS, exploring its definition, symptoms, potential causes, and methods for diagnosis and treatment. Understanding this condition will enable you to provide optimal care for your cat, ensuring a happier and more comfortable life for them. For more insights into FHS and related cat care information, consult Beaconpet’s resources.

What Is Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome?

Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome (FHS), commonly known as rippling skin disorder, is a neurological syndrome that can be mistaken for normal crazy behavior in cats. However, it is important to recognize that it is a genuine disorder that may require treatment. By tuning in to the symptoms, such as skin twitching, abnormal vocalizations, and erratic behavior, you and your veterinarian can identify the need for medical intervention.


Symptoms of Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome

To identify Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome, it is important to track the symptoms that cats may exhibit. Some of the symptoms include:

Also read about:  4 Likely Reasons Why Your Cat is Only Eating Treats and Not Their Food

Involuntary rippling or twitching of the skin

This is one of the most prominent symptoms of FHS. Cats may experience rippling or twitching of the skin, particularly on the lower back, accompanied by biting and scratching at the affected area.

Loud and insistent meowing

Cats with FHS may exhibit loud and insistent meowing, often at night. This can indicate their discomfort or agitation.

Dilated pupils, glassy eyes

Cats with FHS may have dilated pupils and glassy eyes. This can be a sign of their heightened anxiety and sensitivity.

Erratic racing in circles or back and forth

Another symptom of FHS is erratic behavior, such as racing in circles or back and forth. This behavior can be a manifestation of their restlessness and agitation.

Extreme sensitivity and discomfort from petting

Cats with FHS may become extremely sensitive and uncomfortable when being petted or touched. This can be distressing for both the cat and the owner.


While seizures are a rare symptom of FHS, they can indicate a serious underlying condition involving the brain. If seizures are observed, it is important to seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.

The symptoms of FHS all point to a common neurological cause that elicits hypersensitivity externally (in the skin) as well as internally, creating anxious behaviors of restlessness and agitation that cannot be easily soothed with affection.

Is Rippling Skin a Sign of Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome?

Causes of Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome

FHS can be caused by various factors, including health conditions or environmental exposures that disrupt the cat’s neurological functioning. While any cat can be affected by FHS, certain breeds, such as Siamese, Burmese, Abyssinian, and Persian, tend to be diagnosed more frequently. Most cats affected by FHS start to exhibit symptoms between one and five years of age. Some possible triggers include:


Pansteatitis is a condition caused by an excess of unsaturated fatty acids from a high-fish or imbalanced homemade diet. This condition leads to abnormal fatty deposits under a cat’s skin, causing pain and hypersensitivity in the thorax and abdomen. Cats affected by pansteatitis may experience twitching or rippling of the skin as a result.

Also read about:  Common Symptoms of Feline Calicivirus (FCV)

Brain Involvement

If a cat with FHS experiences seizures, the cause may stem from the brain. Infection, skull trauma, or tumors should be investigated by a veterinarian to identify the underlying cause of FHS.

Toxic exposure

Exposure to environmental or dietary heavy metals, such as arsenic or mercury-containing foods or compounds, can cause FHS. Flea dips, flea collars, or the ingestion of household cleaning agents and pesticides should also be considered as potential causes.

Flea Allergies

Itchy skin due to flea bites can cause erratic behavior in cats. It is important to rule out flea allergies by examining the cat’s skin under the coat.

OCD or Stress-related Condition

If all other causes have been ruled out, Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome may be attributed to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or an undefinable stress-related condition. In such cases, working with a veterinarian or a pet behaviorist can help manage the condition and improve the cat’s well-being.

Diagnosing Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome in Cats

Diagnosing FHS is often a process of elimination. If no external stimuli or toxic exposure can be identified, a veterinarian will consider other potential causes, such as diet or trauma. Because FHS is often idiopathic (meaning it has no known cause), your veterinarian may recommend dietary modifications to optimize weight and nutrition, as well as the removal of environmental stressors, before opting for more diagnostic tests, such as x-rays. If seizures have been observed, further tests may be required to identify the underlying cause.

Popular Brands for Cat Scratching Posts

Treatment and Prevention

Treatment and management options for FHS focus on relieving stressors, providing exercise-based activities, making dietary changes, and, if necessary, using medication. Some approaches to treatment and prevention include:

Relieving Stressors

Identifying and removing stressors in the cat’s environment, such as aggressive pets or loud noises, can help reduce anxiety and improve the cat’s overall well-being.

Exercise-based Activities

Providing interactive play with wand toys and engaging in regular exercise can help stimulate the cat’s activity level and alleviate anxiety.

Also read about:  The Best Stick Toys for Stick-Obsessed Dogs

Clicker Training

Clicker training is a fun and effective behavioral modification approach that can help reduce anxiety and redirect the cat’s attention to positive activities.

Dietary Changes

Modifying the cat’s diet to optimize nutrition and encourage weight loss (if necessary) can have a positive impact on their overall health and well-being.


In some cases, cats with FHS may benefit from medication. Anti-convulsant medication, such as phenobarbital, may be prescribed for cats that experience seizures. Low dosages of mood-stabilizing drugs may also be prescribed to help calm a cat and manage their anxiety.

Working with a Pet Behaviorist

Collaborating with a pet behaviorist can provide valuable guidance and support in managing FHS. They can help develop a customized treatment plan to address the cat’s specific needs and improve their quality of life.

It is important to note that while modifications and medications can help manage FHS symptoms, there may not be a complete “cure.” However, with the right interventions and support, cats with FHS can experience improved comfort and well-being.

Prognosis for a Cat with Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome

The prognosis for a cat with FHS depends on the underlying cause of the condition. In cases where diet or environmental changes are the primary factors, the outlook is generally positive, and cats can experience significant improvement. If the condition is a result of toxic exposures, the prognosis will depend on the extent of neurological damage. Brain problems carry a more guarded prognosis, as the severity and type of the issue can greatly impact the cat’s long-term well-being.

amazing deals on cat condos for black friday 2 scaled

Relevant Research Studies and Sources

Understanding FHS and its management is an ongoing area of research. Some relevant sources for further reading on the topic include:

Retrospective Study of Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome Cases

A retrospective study conducted on cases of FHS provides insights into the diagnosis and treatment of the condition.

Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine is a reputable institution that has published valuable information and research on FHS and other feline health conditions. Their resources can provide a deeper understanding of the syndrome.

Is Rippling Skin a Sign of Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome?

Other Related Articles

For more information on related topics and conditions, you may find the following articles helpful:

  • Meningitis in Cats
  • Neurological Disorders in Cats
  • Is Lavender Safe for Cats?
  • Reasons Why Your Cat Acts Crazy and How to Stop It
  • Wobbler Syndrome in Dogs
  • Feline Cerebellar Hypoplasia
  • Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR) in Cats
  • Anemia in Cats
  • Injection Site Sarcomas and Fibrosarcomas in Cats
  • Atopic Dermatitis in Cats

By staying informed about these topics, you can better understand your cat’s health and well-being. Remember to consult with your veterinarian for specific advice and guidance tailored to your cat’s needs.

You may also like


About Us

At BEACONPET, we understand the importance of keeping your pets entertained and engaged. That’s why our blog serves as a comprehensive resource, offering a wide range of articles and guides on various topics related to pet toys.


Whether you’re searching for the best interactive toys for your canine friend or looking for creative DIY toy ideas for your feline companion, our blog has got you covered.


Subscribe my Newsletter for new blog posts, tips & new photos. Let's stay updated!

@2023 BEACON PET – Privacy Policy – Amazon Associates Program is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to