Hereditary, Non-Inflammatory Muscular Disease in Cats


PetMD Editorial

Published Feb. 23, 2010

Non-inflammatory Myopathy—Hereditary X-Linked Muscular Dystrophy in Cats

Muscular Dystrophy is an inherited, progressive, and non-inflammatory degenerative muscular disease caused by a deficiency of dystrophyin, a muscle-membrane protein. This generalized muscle disorder is primarily seen in newborn cats or those less than one year old. Domestic short-haired and Devon Rex cats are also more prone to this form of muscular dystrophy.

Symptoms and Types

  • Vomiting
  • Increased muscle mass
  • Stiff gait
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Weakness
  • Downward flexion of head and neck


Dystrophin deficiency due to inherited defect.


You will need to give a thorough history of your cat’s health, including the onset and nature of the symptoms, to your veterinarian. He or she will then conduct a complete physical examination as well as a biochemistry profile, urinalysis, and complete blood count (CBC). Creatine kinase enzyme levels may be elevated due to the dystrophin deficiency. Liver enzymes are also elevated in cats with this disorder.

The most hopeful test for reaching a definitive diagnosis, however, involves taking a muscle biopsy. The muscle tissue sample is sent to a veterinary pathologist to verify abnormal levels of dystrophin.


No treatment is proven to be effective. Glucocorticosteriods are often given to cats suffering from non-inflammatory muscular dystrophy, but their effectiveness is variable and their exact mode of action in this disease is still unknown.

Living and Management

Cats with this disorder are prone to aspiration pneumonia or cardiac disease and must evaluated at regular intervals for such complications. Be vigilant of complications and contact your veterinarian should problems arise.

Unfortunately, the overall prognosis is very poor in cats with non-inflammatory muscular dystrophy. Often, your veterinarian will discourage breeding the animal, due to the genetic nature of the disorder.

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