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Generalized Inflammatory Muscle Diseases in Cats

2 min read

Polymositis and Dermatomyositis in Cats


Polymositis and dermatomyositis are both generalized disorders which involve the inflammation of the cat's muscles. More specifically, polymyositis involves skeletal muscle damage due to inflammation, but with no pus formation, whereas dermatomyositis is a form of polymyositis in which characteristic skin lesions are also seen.


These disorders are rarely seen in cats and are more common in dogs.


Symptoms and Types


  • Stiff-stilted gait
  • Muscle swelling
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle pain (especially when muscles are touched)
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Enlarged esophagus (megaesophagus)
  • Regurgitation
  • Skin lesions (in dermatomyositis)




  • Immune-mediated infections
  • Drugs
  • Cancer




You will need to give a thorough history of your cat’s health, including the onset and nature of the symptoms. The veterinarian will then conduct a complete physical examination as well as a biochemistry profile, urinalysis, complete blood count, and tests to evaluate levels of creatine kinase enzyme -- normally found in the brain, muscles, and other tissues -- to assess muscular damage.


He or she will also collect a sample of the muscle to send to a veterinary pathologist for further evaluation. This is the single most important test for diagnosing polymyositis.


In cats with regurgitation, thoracic X-rays will help evaluate the esophagus for dilatation or identify tumor(s) within the esophagus. Surgery may be required if tumor(s) are found.



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