We still feel very positive and optimistic after the feedback from the Royal Veterinary College. However, the words “We need to treat this quite aggressively” – which is what we were told on Friday – are still ringing in my ears, as are the words of one of the other vets at the practice, who told Cat Daddy on the phone that treating this condition would be “a hard slog”.
Feline hyperesthesia is a very rare and complex thing indeed. Our good friend Google will give you plenty of information about it but, to save you some tapping and scrolling, here it is in a nutshell:
– Prevention: not known
– Causes: not known
– Main symptoms*: irritated skin; eyeing tail warily as if it were an alien being; over-grooming or scratching of tail & lower body; hissing or yowling at tail; attacking tail; appearing glassy-eyed and in a trance; touch-sensitive flesh that quivers on contact, which gives it its nickname of “rolling skin syndrome” (although, interestingly, Louis Catorze has never displayed this symptom, which was why we initially didn’t think he had the condition)
– Testing: none
– Cure: none
– Treatment: usually bombardment by anti-anxiety and/or neurological drugs and/or, in extreme cases, amputation of the tail
(*Obviously, if your cat is displaying these, or other, symptoms, please don’t make any assumptions based on my word: SEE SOMEONE WHO IS QUALIFIED. I am neither a vet nor an animal behaviourist, and I can only give anecdotal advice.)
The next step for Louis Catorze is to continue on the Gabapentin, varying the dose until we hit upon the magical level that completely stops him from attacking his tail. Then, after a few months on that level, we will gradually try to wean him off.
This means that, for the foreseeable future, at least, extended holidays away won’t be possible, as we will need to be home to monitor him and make sure his routine isn’t too disrupted. But, given that my favourite place to be is Le Château, and my favourite people with whom to spend time are Cat Daddy and Le Roi, this shouldn’t be too much of a hardship.
We knew from the start that we had a special boy, and knowing that he’s one in several thousand makes me love the little sod even more.
Statement from Cat Daddy: “I think he’s milking it a bit.”