Idiopathic feline polymyositis: a pathology

All of us, once in our lives, happened to find ourselves with an inflamed muscle, either for excessive physical exertion or for a wrong movement. Not even our cats are immune to similar inflammations, which in their case are defined as myosites. Sometimes, unfortunately, the condition of myositis extends to the whole body, and in this case we speak of idiopathic feline polymyositis.

The cause of origin may be:

  1. infectious type. In case parasites such as toxoplasm and neospora are present at muscular level, but also B. burgdorferi, Ehrlichia, Rickettsia or simple bacteria, the response of the body may lead to polymyositis.
  2. an abnormal immune reaction in the muscle area.
  3. a tumor. In the initial phase, in fact, some tumors develop from an inflammation like this, or alternatively a reaction of the immune system against a different organ can backfire on the muscular system.

A cat suffering from feline idiopathic polymyositis may present several symptoms, such as sudden weakness, ventroflexion of the neck (i.e. holding the head and neck bent downwards), inability to jump, general tiredness that leads the animal to sit or lie down after a few steps, and obviously muscle pain. The gait is stiff, and if you ever decide to palpate Kitty’s muscles, he will complain of pain. In the initial phase, a swelling of the muscles is evident, which evolves into atrophy as the days go by. It is also possible that regurgitation of water or food, difficulty in swallowing and breathing problems are present in the clinical picture.

In addition to the detection of symptoms, the diagnosis involves the use of electromyography. The findings usually show an increase in CPK (creatine phosphokinase, an enzyme present in muscles), AST (aspartate transferase, which if high indicates liver function problems), as well as low levels of potassium and taurine.

Medical treatment varies depending on the trigger. Sometimes feline idiopathic polymyositis resolves itself, but it has the unfortunate characteristic of being a potentially recurrent disease.

If you notice any of the symptoms described, the advice is always to take a trip to the vet. It could be a trifle, not related to serious diseases, but being cautious is always better, isn’t it?


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