Sometimes, in the middle of grooming, my cat goes crazy and starts to bite his hind legs ankle and also kicks under his chin with his legs, for no obvious reason. And he wiggles so erratically that he almost topples my monitor if I don't interfere.

This happens only when he is at an arms length and I'm watching him. I've never seen he does it when he is grooming away from me.

He exhibits this strange behavior is recently much more frequent.

Apart from that, he is a gentle and wise 5 years old ginger tabby European cat. I've adopted him at the age of 2.5 from a shelter and I know nothing about his early life.

I'm wondering what might cause this behavior, and how to deal with it?

1 Answer 1


This sounds like a possible case of hyperesthesia, which is a fairly common disorder in cats. Symptoms include the cat very suddenly twitching its back or grooming itself, thumping its back paws, suddenly scratching itself, or jumping up and running as if it were stung by something. There are some other possible symptoms also, such as unusual vocalization, uncontrolled urination, or drooling.

It is not exactly certain what is the cause of these symptoms. There are various hypotheses such as an obsessive-compulsion or a type of seizure. These explanations sound serious, but from all appearances hyperesthesia usually seems pretty harmless, though it might be annoying to the cat.

Hyperesthesia is often exacerbated by stress or anxiety, so it helps to prevent episodes by minimizing any sources of stress. There are also some drug treatment options if the cat seems too distressed. So talk to your vet if it seems concerning.

I would also recommend talking to your vet anyways to confirm this diagnosis is correct. Taking video of the cat during an episode and showing it to them would be very helpful.

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