As all you Dallas Cat People know by now, The Cat Connection is pleased to host the Dallas Cat Café on Saturday, April 9th, from 11 AM – 4 PM at The Cat Connection, 14233 Inwood Road, Dallas, TX, 75244. Come enjoy Lovecup Coffee and hang out with adoptable cats and kittens, compliments of Farmers Branch Animal Services. We hope to see you all there doing what Cat People do best: talking about cats while surrounded by cats.
We’re especially pleased to introduce our special guest at the Café, internet celebricat Sauerkraut Kitty! Sauerkraut and her people have agreed to stop by the Café and lend some feline star power to the adoptable kitties we’ll be featuring that day.
So who is Sauerkraut?
Sauerkraut is a rescue kitty pulled from Central Oklahoma Humane Society by veteran cat and kitten foster parents, Amy and Patrick Bender, with the intention of finding her a forever home. But from the start, it was clear that Sauerkraut was no ordinary kitty: not only was she quite small and wore an adorable scowl on her face, she was also difficult to feed and did not play or react to noises like other kittens. Eventually, Sauerkraut was diagnosed with a grade 3 heart murmur and Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome, along with other neurological issues that remain undefined.
What is Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome?
Per The Cat Fancy Cat Bible, feline hyperesthesia syndrome (FHS) is a rare condition that “manifests as a variety of behavior changes, the most common being a heightened sensitivity to touch, especially over the lower back and rump” (319). Cats with FHS may exhibit sudden mood swings, going from affectionate to aggressive with no warning, and a fixation on their own bodies, often resulting in overgrooming, as well as self-injury via biting and scratching. Other symptoms can include rippling or rolling skin, increased vocalization and uncontrolled urination.
We all remember the highly publicized, highly controversial incident of Lux, the Portland cat whose sudden violent outbursts resulted in a frantic 911 call from his first family. Multiple homes, hours of medical testing, and several visits from My Cat From Hell’s Jackson Galaxy eventually led to the tentative diagnosis of FHS, which is currently being treated with medications and intensive veterinary supervision in a new home.
We say “tentative” because the diagnosis of FHS is usually made once all other medical possibilities have been excluded. And while Lux’s FHS manifested in sudden outward aggression, other cases are likely to result in the cat causing injury to themselves.
Sauerkraut is one such cat, as her FHS causes her to bite and scratch herself to the point of injury. This is why Sauerkraut is one of the most fashionable kitties on the internet; her special clothing helps to calm her and prevent self injury, much like a comfort shirt for dogs.
Treatment for FHS involves reducing stress, improvements in diet and helping the cat to expend their energy in positive ways, such as play therapy. Potential touch triggers, such as petting at the base of the tail and rump, can also be avoided, depending on the cat. Otherwise, as in Lux’s situation, medication is sometimes prescribed, but in cats with additional medical concerns, such as Sauerkraut, this is not always an option. And of course, like Sauerkraut, many cats benefit from special clothing to help alleviate their FHS symptoms.
The great news is that with proper treatment, love and patience, FHS cats can live normal cat lives, and Sauerkraut is living proof of how fabulous these cats can be!
Did Sauerkraut ever find her special family?
Of course, kitties with special needs require special homes, so in response to Sauerkraut’s uniqueness, Amy and Patrick created an online presence for the kitten to attract an appropriate Forever Family. However, after caring for Sauerkraut and her unique challenges for the first few months of her life, the Benders decided to officially adopt Sauerkraut as their own to ensure she receives the level of care she needs.
In her life with the Benders, Sauerkraut and her Pops are especially bonded, as copious photo evidence attests:
How did Sauerkraut get so famous?
Well, you know how the internet works. Adorable cat + disdainful scowl + media outlets = success! Add in Buzzfeed and a feature on My Cat and Hell, and Sauerkraut has amassed a social media following of thousands of cat enthusiasts. Grumpy Cat comparisons abound, but Sauerkraut is her own feline fame machine. Fortunately, she’s already a pro at managing her image in the fickle world of internet fame:
What’s her mission?
With her humans as support, Sauerkraut is living her dream of being an ambassador of rescue cats. Fortunately, her FHS makes her an ideal feline to tour the country in this role, as she’s less reactive to loud noises and other stimuli than other cats. On her whirl wind tour, Sauerkraut visits shelters and cat enthusiasts to help spread the message that special needs cats make great pets and should not be overlooked. In her own words [translated], “Everyone deserves a warm home and snuggles and there are way too many kitties like me in the shelters.”
Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome resources:*
- Cornell Feline Health Center, “Hyperesthesia Syndrome”: http://www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc/health_information/HyperesthesiaSyndrome.cfm
- The Conscious Cat with Ingrid King, “Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome”: http://consciouscat.net/2012/05/07/feline-hyperesthesia-syndrome/
*As always, The Cat Connection urges pet guardians to speak with their veterinarian for any and all medical concerns. The information presented here is purely informational and is in no way intended to be a substitute for a proper vet visit.
All Sauerkraut images via Sauerkrautkitty.com. Please click for more photos of this adorable sourpuss!