Muscle atrophy is the declining of muscle mass when a muscle is not used because of injury, surgery or arthritis. Fortunately, it's often reversible. You can help build up your cat's atrophied leg muscles.
Have your cat lie down on a comfortable blanket. Gently massage his hind leg muscles that are tight. Massage therapy works well for a pet who can’t support his weight.
Place one hand on either side of his leg joint. Very slowly move the joint back and forth in the natural motion for walking or pouncing. This process loosens joints that were formerly immobile because the cat was wearing a cast or had arthritis. The muscles must learn to flex in order to build muscles in his legs.
Place a physical therapy ball on a non-skid rug. Carry your cat to the ball and allow him to examine it and smell it. Place his front paws onto the ball while you are directly behind him. Hold your fur ball with one hand on each side of his stomach and help him to balance on his hind legs.
Move the ball side to side gently, in small increments, while supporting your cat. The movement will build muscles in his hind legs and exercise them without strain. Move the ball forward and back to strengthen muscles, build new muscles and improve his balance. Practice this exercise for about 10 minutes and give your kitty some treats for his patience.
Increase the time spent on a physical therapy ball gradually to build muscles slowly. If your cat becomes impatient, stop the session for the day. He may become cranky if his muscles are sore, just as humans do.
- Help your kitty groom himself in areas he can’t reach due to muscle weakness or injuries. He will definitely thank you, since cats love to be clean.
- Give a debilitated cat easy access to his food and water dishes and his litter box, so as not to strain his muscles or encourage jumping. Consider a litter box with shorter sides so he can get in and out easily and not make a mess.
- Discuss all physical therapy with your vet, who can help you formulate a schedule for exercise.
Mary Lougee has been writing for over 10 years. She holds a Bachelor's Degree with a major in Management and a double minor in accounting and computer science. She loves writing about careers for busy families as well as family oriented planning, meals and activities for all ages.