Evaluation of a quantitatively derived value for assessment of muscle mass in clinically normal cats

Am J Vet Res. 2018 Nov;79(11):1188-1192. doi: 10.2460/ajvr.79.11.1188.


OBJECTIVE To evaluate use of an ultrasonographically and radiographically determined value, the vertebral epaxial muscle score (VEMS), for assessing muscle mass in cats. ANIMALS 30 healthy neutered cats of various body weights and between 1 and 6 years of age. PROCEDURES Mean epaxial muscle height was calculated from 3 transverse ultrasonographic images obtained at the level of T13. Length of T4 was measured on thoracic radiographs, and the VEMS (ratio of epaxial muscle height to T4 length) was calculated and compared with body weight. Ratios of epaxial muscle height to various anatomic measurements also were compared with body weight as potential alternatives to use of T4 length. RESULTS 1 cat was excluded because of a heart murmur. For the remaining 29 cats, mean ± SD body weight was 5.05 ± 1.40 kg. Mean epaxial muscle height was 1.27 ± 0.13 cm, which was significantly correlated (r = 0.65) with body weight. The VEMS and value for epaxial muscle height/(0.1 × forelimb circumference) were not significantly correlated (r = -0.18 and -0.06, respectively) with body weight, which is important for measures used for animals of various sizes. CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE The VEMS and value for epaxial muscle height/(0.1 × forelimb circumference) can both be used to normalize muscle size among cats of various body weights. Studies are warranted to determine whether these values can be used to accurately assess muscle mass in cats with various adiposity and in those with muscle loss.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Composition
  • Body Weight
  • Cats / physiology*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Radiography
  • Reference Values
  • Ultrasonography