Feline hyperaesthesia syndrome with self-trauma to the tail: retrospective study of seven cases and proposal for integrated multidisciplinary diagnostic approach

Publication date 29th March 2018
Authors PA Batle, Clare Rusbridge, T Nuttall, S Heath, K Marioni-Henry


This was a retrospective study on the clinical features and response to treatment in seven cats with feline hyperaesthesia syndrome (FHS) and tail mutilation. FHS is a poorly understood disorder characterised by skin rippling over the dorsal lumbar area, episodes of jumping and running, excessive vocalisation, and tail chasing and self-trauma. The majority of the cats were young, with a median age of 1 year at the onset of clinical signs, male (n = 6) and with access to the outdoors (n = 5). Multiple daily episodes of tail chasing and self-trauma were reported in five cats, with tail mutilation in four cats. Vocalisation during the episodes (n = 5) and rippling of lumbar skin (n = 5) were also reported. Haematology, serum biochemistry, Toxoplasma gondii and feline immunodeficiency virus/feline leukaemia virus serology, MRI scans of brain, spinal cord and cauda equina, cerebrospinal fluid analysis and electrodiagnostic tests did not reveal any clinically significant abnormalities. A definitive final diagnosis was not reached in any of the cats, but hypersensitivity dermatitis was suspected in two cases. A variety of medications was used alone or in combination, including gabapentin (n = 6), meloxicam (n = 4), antibiotics (n = 4), phenobarbital (n = 2), prednisolone (n = 2) and topiramate (n = 2); ciclosporin, clomipramine, fluoxetine, amitriptyline and tramadol were used in one cat each. Clinical improvement was achieved in six cases; in five cats complete remission of clinical signs was achieved with gabapentin alone (n = 2), a combination of gabapentin/ciclosporin/amitriptyline (n = 1), gabapentin/prednisolone/phenobarbital (n = 1) or gabapentin/topiramate/meloxicam (n = 1).