Spinal Muscular Atrophy in Maine Coon Cats

This is one of those genetic diseases that afflicts purebred cats. In this case it occurs in Maine Coon cats. Spinal cord nerves controlling the body's muscles and legs die. The disease is caused by an inherited autosomal (not sex linked) recessive gene.

Cute Maine Coon tabby kittens
Cute Maine Coon tabby kittens. Photo: Helmi Flick.

The disease is early onset starting at aged 3-4 months. The symptoms are:
  • sway of the rear end
  • can't jump
  • decreased muscle mass
  • no pain it seems
Maine Coon cats with spinal muscular atrophy live pretty normal lives as full-time indoor cats. There is no treatment at the time of this post (2012 May).

There is a DNA test for this disease. A cheek swab can be sent to the Laboratory of Comparative Medical Genetics, Michigan State University.

Laboratory of Comparative Medical Genetics
2209 Biomedical Physical Sciences
East Lansing, MI 48824

Please check that this service is still provided. I believe this is the current website:


Source: Book 1 on this page.


  1. Our beautiful Maine Coon Auxbeau is exhibiting the swaying walk or dragging his legs. He is 10 years old. He responds a little to Prednisone, seems happier on it. He eats well and is ok in his upper body. I do wish there was more we could do for him.

    1. So sad to hear of your cat's illness. But thank you for sharing. The best of luck to you both.

    2. Thank you so much!We will hold onto him and spoil him as long as he is comfortable.


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