My cat has a very sensitive lower back

My cat has a very sensitive lower back


I scratch my cat on her back right before her tail, she reacts really funny. She will squint her eyes and her head goes up and kind of goes back and forth in jerky motions.

Then she will lick my arm and nibble on me. I’m not sure if this is a nerve reaction (like a dog shakes his leg when scratch belly) or if she likes it? Any ideas?


Hi Darcie…. thank for visiting and asking.

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The lower spine area where it meets the beginning of the cat’s tail is sensitive. I have seen a similar reaction in my cats.

I am sure cat caretakers all over the world have seen the same. The reaction is dependent on the individual cat but I believe that all cats find contact there slightly irritating (in a slightly nice kind of way) because of the sensitivity of the area.

I don’t think it is irritating in a bad way. Cats tend to actually like it slightly in my experience but not in the same way that they like being stroked for example.

Because it is so widespread, it cannot be said to be due to a disease or as one commenter says, feline hyperesthesia (a kind of nervous affliction).

The sensitivity in that spot is similar for both male and female cats, incidentally, in my experience and therefore it not sex related.

I don’t think people know why the area is sensitive. It may simply be for anatomical reasons – a conglomeration (bundle) of nerves in that area.

I wouldn’t worry about it but don’t overdo rubbing and scratching (petting) in that area as beyond a certain point a cat does find it irritating.


P.S. I will come back to this page again to add some more based on more research.

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My cat has a very sensitive lower back

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Feb 20, 2012
by: Michael

I’d like to add some other reasons as and when I think of them.

There is probably a range of possibilities now that I think about.

One possible reason why the area just at the base of the spine and the beginning of tail is sensitive is because that is the place where fleas congregate (as well as neck and shoulders).

More precisely it is the place where you will see flea feces (black grainy particles).

If a cat has fleas he or she may be sensitive in that area because the skin is irritated there.

Just a thought. Check the area routinely with a flea comb (32 prongs or teeth to the inch).

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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2 Responses

  1. Han says:

    Hello, the feline I reside with has a suspected diagnosis of feline hyperesthesia syndrome. He was a stray originally who came through an animal rescue charity. When I went to meet him I¬†was advised not to try to stroke or pick up this cat. I adopted him after he spent a number of months. I didn’t see him for a number of days, and it took a long time to let him settle at his own pace, and nearly half a year later I was able to pick him up, groom, stroke, and cut and shave matted areas where necessary. He’d had a reaction to a prescription flea treatment, but more and more I noticed these episodes of over preening, twitching, dilated pupils, a lot of vocals, reacting to everything as if he’d never seen it before, including me, but would either react agressively, which I know isn’t really his nature with those he trusts (which before his current treatment, I was the only one he trusted for 25 months, not staying in the room even with regular visitors), staring at walls, but I had already called my (his) veterinary practice to have a chat about flea treatment because I noticed the symptoms become noticeable, in the order listed, over our first 18 months together. The person who answered my call at the practice happened to be a feline specialist neurologist. After asking a number of questions, starting with fleas, I was concerned the flea treatment he could tolerate was ineffective, but there was never any evidence of fleas, the ectophytes, their ‘debris’, or an infestation in the house. After a couple more questions she said it could be a rarely diagnosed neurological disorder, and requested that I try to document and monitor his symptoms, and film him both during the episodes, and when he wasn’t so she could see the contrast and his natural disposition. We had to move before getting the footage to the specialist, but found one in the new town to take over his case. When I took him to meet the new vet, after opting not to review the offer of footage it was disregarded as either cerebellar hyperplasia, or cerebellar cortical abiotrophy. I researched both and ascertained he was symptomatic of neither, and had the clue that there might be treatment if it was what she suspected, so she kindly agreed to still play a part in helping him by putting FHS forward as a possibility after receiving the DVD of footage and my description. The vet here referred him to the Animal Health Trust.
    There is little known about FHS, or any evidence either way about the effectiveness of the treatments used, there is no test for it, and is therefore a process of elimination that includes a full neurological blood test, and can involve MRI imaging, dermatological testing, and sample testing which can go as far as skin and/or muscle samples, can be managed in some cases with any one, or a combination of anti anxiety medication, anti depressants, muscle relaxants, nerve pain relief and CBT (I still don’t know how that works with cats), but it is also believed by some professionals to be a more common syndrome than is noted and diagnosed in practice, as all the symptoms I have witnessed are normal cat behaviours, but having lived with cats for all but 2 years of my life, these episodically went beyond the norm, and to the point of exhaustion.
    He is now more relaxed than ever, comes to sit with me with or without visitors, no longer over eats, is playful, and has finally let 2 family members (of mine) stroke him for the first time. He’s still only in the treatment trial stage, but he’s come a long way. All I want is for him to have the best life he can, for his sake.
    In hindsight I wonder if the warning before going to meet him was as much about the syndrome as it was to do with his prior feral life, and if perhaps that’s why he was left to fend for himself in the first place.
    Sorry, I’m not saying that your cat has FHS, especially as stated above, you are only witnessing one of the list of known symptoms, but I do know that there is a greater chance of fully gauging how prevalent FHS really is through raising some awareness.
    Thankfully they put the feline of the house on a medication trial to try to prevent the need for anaesthetic.

    • Michael Broad says:

      Thanks, Han, for such a full comment. Very useful. Are you saying that he has FHS and that medication has helped settle it down and that it was caused by a flea treatment?

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