Patella luxation and hip dysplasia in Maine Coons

There are two outstanding, if one can call them that, health conditions associated with Maine Coon cats. These are inherited conditions due largely to selective breeding for appearance but not always as certainly the causes of hip dysplasia are unclear to the experts as far as I can tell. I'm not going to blame the breeders or be critical of them but all purebred cats can develop inherited health problems because of selective breeding which is another way of describing inbreeding to various degrees. 

Maine Coon. Author: brenkee /

Patella luxation and hip dysplasia can sometimes be found in Maine Coon cats. One condition can occur with the other. In patella luxation, the kneecap of affected individuals tends to slide to the inside of the leg rather than remaining in its trochlear groove. The signs are quite mild normally and include occasional lameness and a reluctance to jump. Sometimes there is intermittent "locking" of the 'stifle' followed by extension of the limb to try to pop the knee back in place.

FYI - The stifle joint is a complex joint in the hind limbs of four-legged animals and is the equivalent of the human knee. The trochlear groove is a groove, as its description suggests, in which the kneecap, the patella, moves back and forth when the leg is bent and straightened.

Hip dysplasia is, as mentioned, found alongside the knee condition mentioned above. It can cause walking abnormalities and intermittent lameness together with a reluctance to jump. The joint can degenerate because it becomes sloppy i.e. a "laxity in the hips". Most Maine Coons suffering from this condition do so mildly with mild changes to the joints. Often the problem will not be evident to the cat's owner until the cat is older. A veterinary examination in midlife does not rule out the condition arising later on. Radiographs are taken to confirm the disease. As a last resort, surgery might be needed to remove the head and neck of the femur on the affected side.

My thanks to the Internet in general and the book Medical, Genetic and Behavioural Aspects of Purebred Cats, edited by Ross D Clark DVM


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