Bone & Joint Problems in Maine Coon Cats

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Bone & Joint Problems in Maine Coon Cats
The large size of the Maine coon puts strain on its joints, leading to health issues. (Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

As one of the largest domestic cat breeds, the Maine coon can weigh anywhere between 4.08 to 9.07 Kilogram, according to the Iams website. Because of their large size and due to the breed's genetics, Maine coons can suffer from certain diseases that affect its bones and joints, leading to arthritis and partial paralysis of their hind quarters.

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Hip Dysplasia

When two cats breed that both carry the gene for hip dysplasia, they pass the condition to their offspring. While the condition can affect any breed, it tends to show up more in Maine coon cats, according to FabCats. Cats with this condition have an abnormal development of the hip joint, in which the hip socket, also called the "acetabulum," is too shallow for the head of the femur bone to fit into properly. A misshapen head of the femur can also cause this condition. Hip dysplasia results in trouble walking, osteoarthritis or even lameness in severe cases.

Symptoms

Hip dysplasia develops during the first few months of a cat's growth period, sometimes showing signs of the disease as early as around 4 months of age, according to PetPlace.com. Male cats suffer from this disease more frequently than female ones. Hip dysplasia can affect one or both of the Maine coon's hips and results in a "rolling" hind leg gait. The hips appear to slide up and down that adds a wiggle to the cat's walk. Older or geriatric cats that suffer from this condition have trouble walking up and down stairs or getting up after lying down.

Mobility Issues and Diagnosis

In addition to hip dysplasia, Maine coon cats can suffer from a degenerative condition known as spinal muscular atrophy, which runs in this breed. This condition results from the death of spinal cord neurons that activate skeletal muscles, according to Vetinfo. The symptoms of this disease can mimic hip dysplasia, such as lameness of the back legs, with symptoms showing up between 4 and 6 months of age. To properly diagnose any bone and joint issues, or other problems with mobility, a veterinarian will perform a physical exam, sometimes under anaesthesia. The doctor will take a series of radiographs of the hips and legs. The severity of the joint problems and any associated arthritis will show up in the radiographs.

Treatment

A veterinarian who diagnoses your Maine coon cat with hip dysplasia will put the cat on a weight loss regimen if the cat is overweight. Excess weight puts greater pressure on the hip joints, leading to increased wear on them and osteoarthritis. Moderate exercise maintains mobility and feeding your cat a low-calorie diet keeps your cat's weight at a normal level. Depending on the severity of the hip dysplasia, the veterinarian may also prescribe anti-inflammatory or pain medication, along with a chondroprotective agent, according to PetPlace.com. Severe cases of the disease may require surgery.

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