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Hind leg muscle atrophy

My F2B Savannah female (4 1/2 yrs.) has muscle atrophy in her hind legs. Xrays turned out normal for spine, hips & joints. Physical exam okay other than muscle atrophy. Occasional throw up of Evo dry food but she sometimes eats dry leaves etc. dragged in from outside. Does not drink/eat more than normal (eliminate diabetes?) weight 16.5 lbs., at times swaying back hips - unsteady gait - falling back into a sitting position. Anus sacks were recently drained - solid not liquid waste - thus there for an extended time. I know Savannah's don't have any particular health issues. Any ideas? Vet suggests an MRI if symptoms persist.


Staff member
I have no advice to give re: the atrophy. Ask your vet about x-rays for hip dysplasia. Rare in cats, but it does happen. I recommend transitioning her to a canned food diet and then, if you're amendable, to a raw diet. Or add in some raw from time to time to what's she's already eating. Also try adding a vitamin supplement to her food. I think that anything we can do to boost health and immune system, especially when dealing with illness, is a good thing.

Brigitte Cowell

Staff member
Were the xrays reviewed by a radiologist and/or orthopedic specialist vet? This is something I believe needs specialist attention. If you were a human, you'd not see your family general practitioner for this, but a specialist.

I'd also consider consulting a veterinary acupuncturist for your girl. I've recently had great success with this, and as long as she will tolerate the needles (one that does home visits is best) then I think could really help here. It's kept my beagle walking for over 7 years when the vet neurologist wanted to do spine fusion surgery, and really helped out Babbage my Savannah kitten this past year too.
Yes, the xrays were reviewed by a radiologist & orthopedic specialist. Bones appear normal. The vet recommended watching her gait for a while to see if it gets better or worse over time, suggesting that the hip swaying & unsteady gait at times may have been due to pain from the anus sacks being full. Although that doesn't account for the muscle atrophy in the hind legs. I'll have a cat scan or mri done if things don't improve. The acupuncture is a good alternative.

The first year I had her I fed her raw chicken with all the supplements recommended for savannah's. She also had access to the dry Evo. After a year or more she refused the raw food. I switched to canned cat food & she ate that for awhile but then refused that too. Since then she'll only eat the dry Evo and a few treats. She even turned down tuna fish (rare treat) yesterday.

Brigitte Cowell

Staff member
If the radiologist and orthopedic specialist have no ideas, then I would definitely pursue the acupuncture idea, maybe even a chiropractor too. My dog sees both chiro and acupuncturist for his back issues...

I think that if she is in pain that would explain going off her food and being's often a symptom of them feeling really bad. Just like us, I never feel like eating when in pain or feeling ill.

I'm so sorry you and she are going through this... it must be awful :-(
Thanks for your recommendations and support. The vet wanted me to double check with Xena's breeder and other Savannah cat owners to see if they've seen muscle atrophy in Savannah cats' hind legs or if there is some history of neurological problems in the savannah breed. Xena's breeder assures me that it is not the case in Xena's bloodline.


Staff member
Linda perhaps also something for pain might help her eat...I'm sorry she is going through this :(

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Does she have Maine Coon in her lineage? I seem to remember that they found a genetic marker for hereditary Spinal Muscular Atrophy in MCs a few years ago. There should be a fairly simple DNA test for it. Your vet should be able to find out.