Phenotypic characterisation of paroxysmal dyskinesia in Sphynx cats

J Feline Med Surg. 2022 Jun;24(6):500-505. doi: 10.1177/1098612X211032123. Epub 2021 Jul 27.


Objectives: The aim of this study was to identify the phenotypic features of a paroxysmal dyskinesia observed in Sphynx cats.

Methods: The owners of affected Sphynx cats were invited to provide video footage of abnormal episodes for review. Those that demonstrated episodes consistent with paroxysmal dyskinesia were then invited to complete an online questionnaire designed to allow further characterisation.

Results: Ten Sphynx cats were included in the study. All affected cats were <4 years of age at the onset of the episodes (range 0.5-4.0). The episodes had a duration of <5 mins in 9/10 cats (range 0.5-10), while episode frequency was variable between and within individual cats. The episodes were characterised by impaired ambulation due to muscle hypertonicity, most commonly affecting the hips and pelvic limbs (9/10) and shoulders and thoracic limbs (8/10). The head and neck (6/10), tail (5/10), and back and abdomen (3/10) were also involved in some cats. Sudden movement, excitement and stress were identified as possible triggers for the episodes in three cats. Therapeutic intervention was not attempted in 7/10 cases, although two cats were reported to become free of the episodes while receiving acetazolamide. The two cats that were followed beyond 2 years from onset entered spontaneous remission. None of the owners believed that the abnormal episodes had affected the quality of life of their cat.

Conclusions and relevance: The phenotype of paroxysmal dyskinesia in Sphynx cats presented in this study appears to share similarities with paroxysmal kinesigenic dyskinesia described in human classification systems. Some cats appear to achieve episode freedom spontaneously. Subsequent research should focus on evaluating response to treatment and determining an underlying genetic cause.

Keywords: Paroxysmal dyskinesia; Sphynx; movement disorder; neurology; phenotypic characterisation.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cat Diseases* / drug therapy
  • Cats
  • Chorea* / drug therapy
  • Chorea* / genetics
  • Chorea* / veterinary
  • Dystonia* / genetics
  • Dystonia* / veterinary
  • Phenotype
  • Quality of Life