Usefulness of muscle condition score and ultrasonographic measurements for assessment of muscle mass in cats with cachexia and sarcopenia

Am J Vet Res. 2020 Mar;81(3):254-259. doi: 10.2460/ajvr.81.3.254.


Objective: To compare muscle condition scores (MCSs) and muscle ultrasonographic measurements in cats with and without muscle loss and to evaluate repeatability and reproducibility of MCS assessment.

Animals: 40 cats of various ages, body condition scores (BCSs), and MCSs.

Procedures: A prospective cross-sectional study was conducted. Body weight, BCS, MCS, epaxial muscle height (EMH), vertebral epaxial muscle score (VEMS), and forelimb epaxial muscle score (FLEMS) were assessed in each cat. The MCS for each cat was assessed 3 separate times by each of 5 raters.

Results: The MCS was significantly correlated with EMH (r = 0.59), VEMS (r = 0.66), and FLEMS (r = 0.41). For MCS, the overall value of the κ coefficient for interrater agreement (reproducibility) was 0.43 and the overall value of the κ coefficient for intrarater agreement (repeatability) ranged from 0.49 to 0.76.

Conclusions and clinical relevance: Ultrasonographic measurements of muscle may be useful for assessing muscle loss in individual cats over time. However, for the cats of this study, no advantage was observed for assessment of VEMS or FLEMS over EMH. Substantial repeatability and moderate reproducibility were shown when MCS was used for assessment of muscle mass in cats. Prospective ultrasonographic studies are warranted to evaluate the usefulness of MCS and EMH assessment for evaluation of changes in muscle mass of cats over time.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Composition
  • Cachexia / veterinary
  • Cat Diseases
  • Cats
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sarcopenia / veterinary*