Maine Coon Health Issues: How To Treat And Prevent

Maine Coons are normally healthy and sturdy cats. However, there are Maine Coon health issues any pet owner should know about.

These genetic predispositions can be a serious concern to Maine Coon owners. Especially, if left untreated.

Maine Coon Health Issues

maine coon health issues

As other cats, Maine Coons are also predisposed to certain illnesses. Knowing the causes and symptoms of these health conditions is especially important when getting a kitten. However, it’s also important to be able to recognize any signs of Maine Coon health issues, so you act quickly.

The most common Maine Coon health issues include the following:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA)
  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)
  • Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)
  • Periodontal Disease
  • Obesity

Other common health issues that also affect other cats include:

  • Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)
  • Worms
  • Fleas

Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia is a common disease in most cat breeds. However, as Maine Coon is a large cat, Hip Dysplasia is considered a breed specific health condition.

This Maine Coon health issue is a result of both parents carrying the gene. Moreover, it affects more female Maine Coons than males.

Although this Maine Coon health issue is not fatal, it’s important cat owners know the symptoms in order to prevent disease progression and paralysis.

Cause

Hip dysplasia in Maine Coons is the result of the animals’ hip joint not fully developing. This could lead to socket dislocation. Unfortunately, once your cat has this disease, it would continue to gradually deteriorate and causes instability. Finally, it can result in full loss of hip joint functions and paralysis.

Symptoms

As this is one of the most common Maine Coon health issues, you as a pet owner should be aware of the symptoms. Being able to recognize the signs of hip dysplasia, will allow you to start treatment quickly. This would give your beloved Maine Coon a better chance of recovery.

The first Hip Dysplasia symptoms include:

  • Loose joints
  • Joint pain – this can appear as your cat trying to stretch out the leg and making a crying or yelping sound

Other Hip Dysplasia symptoms include:

  • Avoiding to jump, run or play
  • The cat making noises when it moves
  • Shoulders grow bigger as the cat mainly uses their front legs
  • Cat struggling to get up from laying position
  • Maine Coon’s back legs appearing closer together
  • Swaying gait
  • Decreased hip joint range of motion

Treatment and Prevention

Non-surgical treatment for Hip Dysplasia include

  • Environmental changes
  • Physical therapy
  • Drug and steroid therapy
  • Weight loss

However, if the mentioned options don’t help or your Maine Coon’s disease is too advanced, there are two surgical options

  • Femoral head and neck excision
  • Full hip replacement

Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA)

Another one of the Maine Coon health issues that is genetically passed on is Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

This disease is not fatal. However, it can shorten your Maine Coon’s lifespan.

If your Maine Coon has this condition, they can still lead a normal life as long as they are kept indoors.

Cause

Spinal Muscular Atrophy occurs when there is loss of motor neurons in your cat’s lower spinal cord. As a result of this disease, there is muscle atrophy and muscle deterioration.

Symptoms

Spinal Muscular Atrophy have the following symptoms:

  • Abnormal posture
  • Struggling to jump
  • Muscle tremors
  • Rear end of kitten sways as they walk
  • Instability and weakness when walking

Treatment And Prevention

Unfortunately, out of the Maine Coon health issues, Spinal Muscular Atrophy has no treatment. However, most Maine Coons can live comfortably as long as they are kept strictly indoors.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)

Maine Coon health issues such as Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy tend to affect cat breeds with a heart gene mutation.  

Cause

The cause of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy is not currently known. However, there are theories this disease is the result of thickening of the muscular walls surrounding the cat’s heart. This leads to the heart efficiency levels being compromised.

Some cat breeds such as Maine Coon are genetically predisposed to this condition. Moreover, adult male cats are more commonly affected.

Symptoms

You must keep in mind that the symptoms of Maine Coon health issues such as Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, are especially hard to identify. This is because cats tend to hide the signs of being sick. However, you should never ignore the possibility of this disease as it can lead to sudden death.

A Maine Coon suffering from Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy include the following

  • Blood clots in the heart
  • Thromboembolism
  • Weak pulse
  • Hind limb pain or paralysis
  • Rapid and irregular heartbeat

In some cases, as the disease progresses, there might be fluid build-up around the cat’s lungs. If that happens, you might notice additional symptoms such as

  • Excessive sleeping and lethargy
  • Open-mouthed breathing
  • Laboured breathing
  • Fastened breathing

Out of the genetically passed down Maine Coon health issues, Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy could be fatal. Therefore, any symptoms must be taken seriously followed by a trip to the vet.

Treatment And Prevention

If your Maine Coon is suffering from Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, the following treatments are available

  • Change in diet such as salt reduction
  • Use of beta-adrenergic blockers such as atenolol (Tenormin) or propanolol (Inderal). The job of the medication is to slow the heart rate

Stomatitis

Another common Maine Coon health issue is Stomatitis. This condition can affect both male and female Maine Coon cats.

Cause

One of the main causes for Stomatitis is genetics. However, other factors that can cause this health condition include:

  • Retroviral diseases such as Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
  • Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)
  • Calicivirus
  • Juvenile Onset Periodontitis
  • Periodontal disease

Symptoms

As recovery from Stomatitis usually takes some time, you must act quickly if you notice any of the following symptoms

  • Crying out or yelping when eating
  • Lack of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Messy coat
  • Bad breath
  • Touching face with paw
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Inflammation of gums and mouth

Treatment And Prevention

Cats that have this health condition are unable to eat due to gums and mouth inflammation. Therefore, it’s important that you take your Maine Coon to the vet immediately if you notice any symptoms.

Treatment of Stomatitis include

  • Antibiotics
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Chlorhexidine rinses or gels

Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)

One of the common Maine Coon health issues, that is also genetically passed down, is Polycystic kidney disease .

Maine Coons with this health problem are born with cysts on their kidneys. Throughout their life, the cysts will change shape and size. However, most cysts would grow slowly and don’t become apparent until the Maine Coon reaches 7 years of age.

Cause

Polycystic kidney disease is caused by an autosomal dominant gene abnormality. There needs to be only one parent that carries the gene for the kitten to inherit the Polycystic kidney disease.

Symptoms

Symptoms of Polycystic kidney disease include:

  • Throwing up
  • Weight loss
  • Tiredness
  • Increased water consumption
  • Loss of appetite
  • Frequent urination

Treatment And Prevention

Unfortunately, there is no cure for Polycystic kidney disease. However, most Maine Coons would lead a normal life. The treatment is in managing the symptoms.

Periodontal Disease

One of the common Maine Coon health issues that can be easily prevented is Periodontal disease. This disease affects your cat’s teeth and mouth and is also known as gum disease.

Although, easily preventable symptoms shouldn’t be ignored as the disease can lead to developing kidney and heart problems.

Cause

The cause of Dental disease in Maine Coon is the build-up of plaque and tartar on the cat’s teeth over time. This disease affects the teeth and the structures around the teeth. Moreover, if left untreated the formed bacteria could progress to the heart and kidney.

Symptoms

The disease progression is in three stages:

  • Halitosis – this stage must not be ignored as it’s reversable if you act quickly. In the first stage of the disease, you’ll notice symptoms such as bad breath. This is the result of food stuck in your cat’s teeth beginning to rot
  • Gingivitis – In the second stage, Maine Coon’s gums would become inflamed. This is caused by your cat’s immune system trying to remove the build-up plaque. If left untreated, the disease might progress to Periodontitis stage which is irreversible.
  • Periodontitis – This stage occurs when the symptoms of Dental disease are ignored and the problem is left untreated. In this case, tooth loss is also likely

Treatment And Prevention

Prevention is the best treatment. This is also true when it comes to Dental disease in Maine Coon cats. To prevent this health condition from developing, you must ensure your cat has a good oral hygiene routine. It’s recommended to brush your Maine Coon’s teeth minimum of once a week.

Obesity

When talking about Maine Coon health issues, obesity doesn’t seem as serious as some of the other diseases mentioned. However, you’d be surprised to find out that Obesity is very common amongst Maine Coon cats.

As Maine Coon is the largest domesticated cat, owners can’t wait for their kitten to reach full size. However, Maine Coon doesn’t reach their full length and weight until they are 3 – 4 years old, unlike other cats at 2 years old.

As many novice Maine Coon owners don’t know this, they just think that their Maine Coon is too small. To “fix” this, they begin feeding the Maine Coon more food which normally results in Obesity.

Cause

Cause of obesity include overfeeding and lack of portion control.

Symptoms

Symptoms of Obesity include

  • Visual changes in appearance such as pot belly
  • Constantly wanting more food and being more vocal

Treatment And Prevention

The treatment for Obesity in Maine Coons is feeding your cat the correct diet. Also, being informed on what are the Maine Coon needs and characteristics such as growth rate.

If your Maine Coon is already obese, you should do the following:

  • Switch them on a low carb and low fat diet
  • Another option is to switch to raw meat high quality diet
  • Cut out processed foods such as jelly based wet cat food

Learn more about Maine Coon diet here Maine Coon Diet: Guide On How To Pick The Best

How To Pick A Healthy Maine Coon Kitten

The best way to prevent the development of Maine Coon health issues is being careful from the very start. If you are thinking of getting a Maine Coon kitten, it’s imperative you follow these steps to avoid or at least minimize the chance of any health problems down the line.

  • Do extensive research into the breeder you’re going to get your Maine Coon kitten from
  • Ensure you’re using a reputable breeder – check not only online reviews but also seek word of mouth from people you personally know
  • It’s the breeder’s responsibility to screen the kittens for any genetic diseases and to only breed healthy cats
  • The breeder should be able to show you the parents of the kitten and provide you with medical history information on them
  • There are tests that can be done to check if the kitten carries a certain gene. Although, a cat carrying the gene doesn’t necessarily mean that they will get sick, it’s always best to know, so preventive steps can be taken

Final Thoughts

Maine Coons are known for being large cats that are usually quite healthy. However, there are some Maine Coon health issues that are genetically passed down that your should know about.

Although, most health problems are not life threatening, if left untreated it can lead to more serious consequences. Even be fatal in some cases.

With that said the most common Maine Coon health issues include:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA)
  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)
  • Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)
  • Periodontal Disease
  • Obesity

As a Maine Coon owner, it’s your responsibility to stay informed on these health conditions and know the symptoms.

By doing this, you’d not only be able to help your sick Maine Coon but you’d also know what prevention steps to take to avoid the disease developing in the first place.

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