It was supposed to be just an ordinary day until you noticed your kitty walking with lopsided back legs. When you take a closer look, the other leg is thinner, stiff, or weaker. First thing to think about is whether your cat is old or young? Did she just experience an injury? Did she undergo surgery? Was she recently sick?
Read below for more information about cats losing muscle mass in their hind legs that every fur parent should know about.
Signs that your cat losing muscle mass in hind legs
- The most obvious sign is the difference in muscle mass of each hind leg. Just like humans, a cat’s muscles will start to shrink when they get older.
- Slow movement. When a cat needs to walk slow because she is unsteady on her feet.
- Stumbling and struggling to stand because of lacking support from her hind legs.
- If you notice she’s not jumping on the curtains or running across the room the way she used to, that may be because it is painful for her to leap or run since her hind legs lack the strength to do so.
- When you notice she is unkempt and she does not groom herself any more. A cat needs to lift its legs in order to groom like licking her paws or chewing on herself.
- If her “litter time” is becoming less and less because she is struggling to get in or out of the litter box due to reduced mobility.
Why is my cat losing muscle mass?
Losing muscle mass on its hind legs is normal for some older cats with poor lifestyle. They tend to be picky on their food because they only eat those they can chew and that may result in an improper diet. They also tend to become less active and refuse to do muscle-building activities like they used to do.
However, she is not yet in her senior years that would be a different case. Just like with humans, her muscles may shrink if she was injured, underwent surgery, or was very sick for a long time. This is called Muscle Atrophy.
When a cat is injured or sick or has underlying illness or common diseases, such as heart disease, kidney disease, or cancer she will lose mostly muscle. This loss of muscle is called Cachexia. When a cat is losing muscle mass because of age related matter, it is called Sarcopenia. Not only is muscle lost, but the muscle that remains doesn’t function as well.
How to Increase a cat’s hind leg muscles?
Finding out muscle loss at an early stage helps with successful treatment. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help build up your cat’s atrophied leg muscles. It will need great patience and effort to pull it off.
Implement Regular Exercise
Let us bring back those active days and perform exercise with her. A slow walk around the block would be a nice starting point but remember to check with your veterinarian first before beginning any serious exercise program. The vet will let you know what regimen is best for a cat who is aging or having a medical condition.
Follow a Proper Diet
Nutrition plays a critical role in managing disease and maintaining muscle. For a senior cat, good quality high protein foods would be best for her atrophied leg. Always check with your vet if you are unsure of what to feed her to determine the optimal diet. For a cat with medical conditions, it is best to pay careful attention to her diet. Consult a veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist.
Provide Supplements for Muscle Atrophy
Though implementing regular exercise and following a proper diet can greatly reduce the risk of Muscle Atrophy, providing her supplements can be help too. Your vet will likely recommend lysine supplement which is rich in amino acids that are essential for building muscle mass. You may also try iron supplements or potassium supplements.
Aid Her Mobility at Home
There are things you can help at home for her to recover quickly. Give her a low-sided litter box for easy access, provide a soft and padded bedding and assist her with climbing the stairs or any higher ground. You can also help by massaging your cat’s affected hind leg by following these simple steps:
- In a quiet room, pet your cat until she is relaxed.
- Ensure your hands are warm while you stroke her back gently.
- Gently massage the upper thighs of the rear legs.
With these steps, you can soothe your cat’s stiff legs and make it feel more relaxed. But if your cat does not enjoy a massage, do not force her.