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Strange behavior; hissing/growling at nothing

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
10 y.o. shorthair tabby female named Boo. About a week ago she started hissing and growling at her backside. She would turn her head towards the back and hiss/growl as if something were grabbing her (she never did like anyone petting her towards the tail or rear legs).

It does not happen all the time and I can't really pin a pattern to it either, other than it happens pretty regularly but it's not a constant thing. If she is sitting or sleeping it does not appear suddenly ... only after she has been moving.

Strictly an indoor cat that has never gotten out. Still eats and drinks normally. Uses the litter box on the same schedule leaving the usual "treats" with no apparent straining or difficulties. I've checked for fleas, coming up with nothing. She can still move around and jump up onto the bed with no visual problems.

I did notice while flea combing her (she usually gives me about 2 minutes before getting upset, but she always was that way about brushing, combing) that there was an amount of dry skin/dandruff.

I've switched her food over to a high quality brand (Wellness) from the old Purina. By the way, she LOVES the new food. So much so that she jumps up onto the kitchen counter when I'm preparing it. She has never done that before and the jump is a pretty good one ... which also has me perplexed considering if she is in any pain she sure doesn't indicate it at meal times!

It may be vet time (bad experience 6 years back where she almost died after a visit to this specific vet) but over at the next town.

Any thoughts?

Thanks in advance.
post #2 of 6
A couple of things come to mind. First, since the area has a lot of dandruff, there could be a problem with the skin in that area. I've had a cat hiss and be sensitive about a particular region only to find out later that he had a puncture wound. A tight mat in that spot could similarly cause pain and sensitivity. Arthritis can also cause pain, which could in turn lead to the behavior you are describing.

If all checks out and nothing appears to be physically wrong in that area, there is a possibility of feline hyperesthesia ( or some other seizure disorder. This is possible, especially since you mention she has always been sensitive about that area being touched.
post #3 of 6
I was going to mention feline hyperesthesia, too. Does she bite the area when she has these episodes?

If there is matting, that also could be causing pain.

Definitely a vet visit is the first step to take.

Welcome to the forum and please keep us updated on Boo.
post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 
Took Boo back for her second Vet visit today. Her first visit about two weeks ago resulted in a prescription for a pain/antibiotic combo that thankfully she doesn’t mind mixed in with her Wellness canned turkey. The Vet wanted to start eliminating possibles.

Well, the meds didn’t do too much and she had actually seemed to be getting worse and slowing down in her activity and eating cycles. I can relate with my arthritic back where during a prolonged bout I get pretty irritable and don’t feel like doing too much, either.

I made the second call and they asked to bring her in for xrays and a blood work-up. Upon picking up a groggy 15# tabby from his office we discussed what was found. Blood work will be back in 2 days (no surprise). Simple urinalysis was negative. The xray showed a good spine and no breaks, but there were signs of hip dysplasia, a rarity in cats. We’ll see about the blood work.

As a course of action he put her on a cortisone pill series over the next 7 days (diminishing amounts) plus a larger antibiotic dosage (as another just in case). I know I can’t go without my anti-inflammatories during my flare-ups so maybe they’ll help.

I did bring up the Feline Hyperethisia, which he was familiar with, and he felt not everything was there to go that route. He said prior to the xray sedation he did a complete exam of her hind quarters in an attempt to elicit a “pain response†with no reaction or “skin ripplesâ€.

Once the sedative wears off I’ll start on the meds.
post #5 of 6
Hi, sorry Boo is going through this. I have a cat that has Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome. I understand how difficult it can be.

This can be triggered by any type of pain or discomfort, stress, fleas, itching, food allergy, and on and on. I know they ruled out urinary problems.

You said you switched food. Did the behavior start AFTER the food switch? Gas pains or a stomach ache can cause this as well even though she is eating fine. Just wondering if that might have triggered the behavior. Once it starts, from what I understand, they can get into a cycle where the initial "trigger" is gone but the behavior remains.

Hope all goes well with the lab results. Best to you and Boo.
post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the thoughts. No, the food was switched after the initial symptoms appeared and up until a few days ago, she was eating like a horse.
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