Otherwise known as rolling skin disease, feline hyperesthesia is believed to be a rare type of seizure disorder in cats. Feline hyperesthesia often occurs as sudden episodes, which may occur frequently throughout the day, or sporadically on a weekly, monthly or less frequent basis.
Symptoms often begin with vocalization and dilated pupils, as well as often a general increase in restless activity. The skin may start twitching and rolling, as well as the cat may begin aggressive behavior that may be directed at the guardian, as well as against itself. I have seen many cats start biting at their own legs or back, as well as biting and attacking the tail. Durations of a feline hyperesthesia episode may vary from seconds to a few minutes, and very often the cat will run through the house in a frightened manner at the conclusion of the episode.
The cause of feline hyperesthesia is most commonly not known, although genetic factors play a role in certain breeds such as in the Burmese, Siamese and Himalayan cats. I have also seen cases of flea and/or food allergies manifest in some cats as feline hyperesthesia syndrome. In these situations, treatment of the flea and/or food allergies may resolve the symptoms. However, in the vast majority of cases, medical management is directed at symptomatically lessening the severity and intensity of these episodes. SSRI drugs including Prozac have been used in many cases, as well as the human drug Gabapentin. Most recently, the anti-anxiety drug Lyrica has also been used in managing cats with feline hyperesthesia.