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24.05.2022

What are common Maine Coon health problems?

Friendly, long-haired Maine Coons are generally hardy and resilient felines. Still, just like other purebred cats, including Ragdolls, Siamese, and Persians, these kitties are genetically predisposed to particular diseases. 

What are the most common Maine Coon health problems, and is there a way to boost your cat’s longevity and quality of life? What role does the diet play in your feline’s health? Untamed offers definitive answers!

The most common Maine Coon health issues

Maine Coons are predisposed to:

  1. Hereditary health issues
  2. Lifestyle-related health problems

With proper care, they will comfortably live to be 12–15 years of age—some even 20—without suffering too often from lifestyle-related issues. Still, even though you can postpone hereditary diseases and keep them under control, most of them can’t be prevented. 

Hereditary Maine Coon problems 

Common hereditary health problems in Maine Coons are:

  1. Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA)
  2. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)
  3. Hip dysplasia
  4. Stomatitis
  5. Polycystic kidney disease (PKD)

Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA)

SMA is caused by a recessive gene. It entails the loss of nerves (spinal cord neurons) that control a cat’s limbs. 

Although not fatal and unbearably painful, spinal muscular atrophy affects the quality of a Maine Coon’s life. Cats with this disease display the following symptoms during kittenhood (3–4 months after birth):

  • Visible loss of muscle mass in hind legs
  • Wobbly walk
  • Strange posture 
  • Inability to jump
  • Muscular tremors and contractions

You can’t slow down the progression of this disease, but you can give your gentle giant a good life with proper care and nourishment. Kitties with SMA should live indoors to minimise the risk of injuries. Maine Coon parents should also keep food, water, and favourite toys within their furry friend’s immediate reach.

If you don’t want me to climb up here, why did you make it so fluffy?

Source: Valeria Boltneva

Maine Coon’s innate desire to explore and need for activity could accelerate the effects of SMA. If your feline is an avid climber, try teaching them to stop by using a reward system. You can also build ramps to make their favourite spots easy to reach.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)

HCM is the most common heart disease in adult and senior Maine Coons. Affected felines have abnormally thick heart walls, preventing their heart from pumping blood efficiently and potentially leading to thromboembolism (blood clots in the veins). 

The outcome is fatal, resulting in sudden death (cardiac arrest) or death caused by complications due to poor blood circulation.

Once your Maine Coon enters adulthood (around six years old), you should do annual cardiac ultrasounds, so the vet can check if there are any changes in the heart and do a genetic test if necessary. In addition to regular check-ups, monitor your feline companion for the following signs:

  • Lethargy
  • Shortness of breath and rapid breathing
  • Coughing
  • Nausea and excessive vomiting

Once the illness progresses, it can cause:

  • Blood clots
  • Acute pain in the hind legs or paralysis
  • Rapid and irregular heartbeat
  • Weak pulse

Prevention is possible with a low sodium diet, so avoid serving cat treats with too much salt. Reach out to your vet for specific dietary recommendations based on your Maine Coon’s condition. Feed them wet food high in protein and moderate in fat, avoiding carbs, grains, or cereals. Maine Coons affected by HCM depend on essential amino acids, such as L-arginine and taurine, and fatty acids, such as omega-3 and omega-6, to maintain the vitality of the heart muscle.

Keeping a steady exercise routine will help prevent the disease and potentially diagnose it on time (reduced physical ability is often an early sign of heart disease). Certain medications can alleviate the symptoms and make your cat more comfortable while keeping the cardiovascular system functioning. 

Hip dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is an orthopaedic condition caused by abnormal hip joint development. It usually leads to the dislocation of the hip bone. If noticed and treated on time, the condition is not debilitating, and your kitty could make a full recovery. During the early stages, the symptoms are subtle and hard to spot, so keep an eye out for: 

  • Joint laxity
  • Hip joint pain
  • Inability to jump or climb
  • Reluctance to get up from a sitting position
  • Reduced thigh muscle mass in the hind legs and increased shoulder mass (due to the uneven weight distribution)
  • Swaying walk

If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your vet for a complete examination and radiographs to get an accurate diagnosis. Depending on the severity of the disease, treatments can vary from pain meds to joint surgery. Weight maintenance is essential for pain relief. 

Large purebred felines, such as Maine Coons and Himalayans, are more prone to developing hip dysplasia than other cats. Although this is a familial disease, kitties can also get it due to obesity

Stomatitis

Stomatitis causes painful, widespread oral inflammation in Maine Coons. It can affect felines at any life stage, and the common culprits are:

  • Viruses
  • Inflammatory conditions
  • Dental issues (typically periodontal disease)

Cats with stomatitis tend to show the following symptoms: 

  • Excessive drooling
  • Loss of appetite and sudden weight loss
  • Bad breath
  • Dropping and avoiding food
  • Matted and messy coat
  • Howling while eating

Vets can diagnose stomatitis with an X-ray, bloodwork, or oral cavity examination. Take your cat for a check-up as soon as you notice the symptoms, as other diseases (leukaemia, kidney disease, immunodeficiency, etc.) can entail similar symptoms. 

The goal is to reduce inflammation, but the treatment can be long because there are no efficient meds. Cold laser therapy and food that promotes dental health (e.g. meat and fish) are the best methods to help your kitty get better. 

If the disease is persistent, tooth extraction might be necessary. In advanced stages, stomatitis can lead to heart valve and kidney health conditions. 

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD)

PKD is a hereditary disease that causes cysts (small pockets of fluid) to form in Maine Coons’ kidneys. The cysts start appearing in the earliest stages of kittenhood and are barely visible at first. As your kitty grows, the cysts grow as well, potentially resulting in kidney failure. 

Whether and how fast the cysts grow varies from one feline to another and is difficult to predict. Typically, this process takes a long time, and symptoms aren’t visible until later in life (around seven years of age). They include:

The following methods help in setting the diagnosis:

  • Medical history and genetic testing
  • Blood and urine tests
  • Ultrasound of the kidneys

To prevent or treat the disease, ensure that your Maine Coon has a balanced diet low in sodium and fat, stays hydrated, and gets routine check-ups and meds (if needed). You’ll lower the risk of PKD by keeping their blood pressure and blood sugar in check. Your feline friend should maintain normal weight and exercise regularly to achieve this.

Lifestyle-related Maine Coon diseases 

If you don’t provide proper nutrition and exercise, your Maine Coon could develop:

Disease

Description

Obesity

Maine Coon parents tend to overfeed their kitties, which inevitably leads to gaining weight. A diet high in calories and carbs is wrong for any kitty, including Maine Coon, despite their size and ferocious appetite because felines cannot process carbs efficiently and should get their energy from animal protein

Diabetes

Obesity can lead to insulin resistance, which is often followed by diabetes. Symptoms include frequent urination, excessive thirst, unexpected weight loss, and increased appetite. Lower the risk by feeding your cat appropriate portions of high-quality lean meats

Dental disease

Poor oral hygiene and unhealthy eating habits lead to dental problems, such as gingivitis, periodontitis, and tooth resorption. The best indicators are bad breath and pain. Prevention includes regular teeth brushing (2–4 times a week), a protein-based diet without sugar, artificial colours, and meat derivatives

What do you mean I can’t eat as much as I want?

Source: Amber Kipp

How to improve your Maine Coon’s health?

You can help your Maine Coon lead a long and healthy life with lots of love and proper:

  1. Grooming
  2. Exercise
  3. Nutrition

Grooming

Regular grooming is essential when caring for a feline, even the short-haired Maine Coon

Maine Coon cat parents will have to deal with tumbleweeds of cat hair around their home, as these kitties shed all year round. As the spring approaches, they typically shed more, getting rid of their winter coats. 

Brush them several times a week, using a soft-bristled brush to avoid tangles. Unless they get extremely dirty, there’s no need to bathe cats. Wipe them with a damp cloth or cat wipes after brushing.

The grooming ritual should also include:

  • Ear cleaning
  • Nail clipping
  • Teeth brushing

Exercise 

Keeping your Maine Coon entertained and active is essential for their health. Regular playtime improves their health, helps regulate weight, and makes them happier. Introduce the following to keep your furry friend agile and mentally active:

  • Cat climbers
  • Puzzle feeders
  • Laser toys

Dedicate at least 15 minutes of your day to your kitty since they’re social creatures and require your attention.

Here I am…Playing all by my lonesome…

Source: Kanashi

Nutrition

A proper diet is crucial for preventing and treating your Maine Coon’s health niggles. Although you cannot fully control hereditary conditions, you can delay their onset and alleviate most symptoms. Knowing what your feline can and cannot eat and how much food they should consume can keep them happy and healthy for a long time. 

The pillars of a healthy diet for your Maine Coon are:

  • Animal protein—Protein consists of chains of amino acids vital for strong muscles, healthy organs, and normal reproduction. Kitties efficiently metabolise protein derived from meat and fish, while they cannot break down plant-based protein properly or absorb essential micronutrients from it
  • Animal fat—Fatty acids promote healthy growth, ease inflammation, and keep your Maine Coon’s skin and coat shiny. Make sure to stay within the recommended amount (under 20%) because overconsumption can cause weight gain and related problems
  • Vitamins and minerals—These micronutrients are essential for normal development as they support enzyme formation, nutrient utilisation, and pH balance. There’s no need for supplements since felines get all the necessary vitamins and minerals from meat
  • Water—Felines used to hunt to survive, and fresh prey, such as birds, frogs, mice, and other small animals, was a sufficient source of moisture. Cats’ thirst drive is low, so you should find a way to keep them hydrated through their diet. Dehydration can cause many health issues, such as FLUTDs (Feline lower urinary tract diseases). 

Dry or wet food? What’s the healthiest choice for your Maine Coon? 

Dry food might be cheaper and more convenient to store and serve, but it usually contains sugar and grains, which felines cannot benefit from. Kibble is high in calories and low in moisture (has less than 10%), and a dry-food diet can lead to obesity, allergies, UTIs, and kidney diseases in Maine Coons. 

Did someone say lunchtime?

Source: ottawagraphics

Wet food usually contains more than 70% moisture, which is excellent for your feline’s digestive and overall health. Choosing high-quality, meat-based canned food should keep your kitty fit and happy because it closely resembles their natural diet.

Kibble is a decent occasional snack, and you can mix it with unseasoned soup or broth to increase the moisture content.

Keep your Maine Coon happy with Untamed

Maine Coon health maintenance has never been easier with Untamed by your side!

Kittens, adults, and seniors will equally enjoy our healthy and delicious meals. We keep them free from all known allergens to avoid any unpleasant reactions. Each Untamed dish is:

  1. High in protein—Our products contain twice as much protein as the industry standard
  2. Made with human-grade meat—Your feline can choose from various dishes made with the highest quality chicken, liver, duck breast, salmon, tuna steak, shrimp, sardine or mackerel 
  3. Sugar- and grain-free—Kitties don’t have any use for these ingredients, and they can be tough on your furry friend’s sensitive tummy, often leading to diarrhoea, skin irritation, and weight gain
  4. Vet-formulated—Untamed food is designed by vets to ensure each meal meets your feline’s unique biology
  5. Ethically made—Our meat is ethically-reared and fish sustainably caught, and we deliver our products in 100% recyclable packaging
  6. Fussy eater approved—No matter how refined your Maine Coon’s taste is or if they usually frown at wet food, they’ll purr with excitement at the first sniff of Untamed

Order Untamed and treat your Maine Coon to meals they can’t resist!

What to expect after switching your Maine Coon to Untamed

Whichever meal your feline deems their favourite—Chocka Chicken, Tuck-in Tuna, or Full-on Fishy—they’ll enjoy healthy ingredients that taste delicious. 

Keep your Maine Coon purrrfectly healthy and satiated with Untamed!

Image (c) Untamed

The feedback we’ve received from other Maine Coon parents highlights the following health improvements:

Timeline 

What Untamed can do

In a week

  • Better digestion
  • Less mess in the litter tray

Within two months

  • More muscular physique and optimal weight
  • Less fussiness

After four months

For life

  • Strong immune system
  • Stable health

How to sign up

Getting your Maine Coon a customised meal plan is a simple three-step process. All you need to do is:

  1. Complete our quick Try Now quiz and tell us more about your cat
  2. Choose the products your Maine Coon will love
  3. Complete the order

Your special cat food trial pack will be at your doorstep in a day. Once they’ve nibbled their way through and picked their favourites, we’ll send a fresh batch every month with no shipping costs. Our cat food delivery service runs smooth but is also quite flexible. If you want to change the products or the delivery date, you can do so at your convenience.