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Feline muscular dystrophy: parallels between cats and people
  1. Ken Smith, BVM&S, PhD, FRCPath, MRCVS
  1. Department of Pathology and Infectious Diseases, Royal Veterinary College, Hawkshead Lane, North Mymms, Hatfield, Hertfordshire AL9 7TA
  1. e-mail: ksmith{at}

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MUSCULAR dystrophies are an area of emerging diagnostic and research interest in cats (Ruehlmann 2010). Skeletal muscle in cats is different from that in dogs in the sense that feline muscle contains fast-twitch fatigable myofibres in addition to the slow- and fast-twitch fatigue-resistant myofibres present in dogs. This may be an adaptation that enables cats to be superior sprinters rather than being specialised for endurance or sustained exercise (Maxwell and others 1977). Diagnosis of muscular disease in the feline species can be difficult and there are few detailed reports of the pathology of the various acquired or inherited conditions in the veterinary literature. Our understanding of muscular diseases in all of the veterinary species has increased rapidly in the last decades however, as specialist veterinary pathologists and researchers become more expert in the recognition of muscular pathology in biopsy and postmortem material, and as specific DNA-based tests for genetic disorders continue to be developed (Shelton and Engvall 2002).

Muscular dystrophies are inherited muscular diseases that result in progressive skeletal muscle weakness through degeneration and loss of muscle cells. In people, muscular dystrophies include Duchenne, …

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