Special Need: feline hyperesthesia syndrome
Take a good look at Max, and the first things you?re bound to notice are his dazzling green eyes, long-and-lanky good looks, and the sweetest ?please love me!? meow you?ve ever heard. But, take a look at Max off his medication, and you can?t ignore something less endearing?his painful obsession with his own tail.
Young, affectionate, and almost overwhelmingly adorable, Max is one-of-a-kind wonderful, and we love having him at Tabby?s Place. But his uniqueness extends to his special need. Max is the very first Tabby?s Place cat to suffer from feline hyperesthesia syndrome (FHS), a mysterious condition that causes intense symptoms such as sudden bouts of bizarre hyperactivity, frantic self-directed grooming (especially along the tail), tail swishing and fixation with the tail, large pupils, severe mood swings and ?puffing out? of the hair, especially along the spine and tail. When he first came to Tabby?s Place, Max literally seemed to be experiencing hallucinations, and almost continually made vicious attacks against his own poor tail.
When a cat first comes to Tabby?s Place, he spends his first three weeks in a crate in our Quarantine area. But Max made his uniqueness immediately apparent by growling, peering over his shoulder, and attacking his tail almost continuously. Jonathan aptly described Max?s state as ?more anguished than angry,? as our poor tabby boy seemed fearful and paranoid. Taking Max out of his cage and giving him a ?private suite? helped to calm Max?s frayed nerves a bit, but his painfully-obvious paranoia, anxiety and rippling skin continued. Slowly and carefully, we fine-tuned his anti-seizure and sedative medications, ultimately leveling off at a high but stable daily dose of each.
Although Max loves people and we?ve never seen him behaving aggressively with other cats, it?s an overstatement to say that he gets along with them. When we attempted to introduce Max to a small, cozy suite of gentle, cat-loving cats, he almost immediately reverted to his panicky, tail-attacking ways. If necessary, we?ll keep Max in his own ?private suite? for the rest of his life. But, we would love for him to become more comfortable with other cats, so we are gradually desensitizing him to their presence by giving him a single, extremely mellow and slow-moving roommate: elderly Mozart.
Keeping Mozart in a large crate in Max?s room has made a difference already, as Max no longer growls and hisses at Mozart, and can relax in his presence. More recently we've started letting Mozart out (under supervision) for short periods of time. Max has improved greatly with his new friend. Our goal is for Max to become comfortable enough with other cats so we can move him to a smaller room with a few other cats. We cherish Max dearly at Tabby?s Place, and he is a love-bug who absolutely adores humans. He?ll become a joyful, snuggly chatterbox as soon as you enter his suite, and would love to be loved and talked to all day. He would bring the right family much joy. But, we know that Max?s very unusual special need means he may be with us for life, and we?re honored and happy to give him everything he needs. Thank you for sponsoring our lovable tabby boy and helping us to care for his very unique needs with patience and love.