Maine Coon spinal problems

One of at least five inherited diseases which can be suffered by the Maine Coon is spinal muscular atrophy. You can read about the others by clicking on this link. As mentioned, this is a genetic defect occurring in this popular cat breed. The nerves that control the skeletal muscles of the body, which are situated in the spinal cord, die off. The disease becomes apparent when the kitten is about 3 to 4 months old. At this time a kitten will move with a sway in the rear end.

Beautiful tabby Maine Coon. Photo: Helmi Flick.

At five or six-months old kittens with this disease can't jump. Their muscle mass is decreased although they do not appear to be in pain and can lead fairly normal lives as indoor companion cats. There is no treatment.

Genetically, this is an autosomal recessive trait. You may be able to get a genetic test on this condition by sending a cheek swab to the Laboratory of Comparative Medicine Genetics at Michigan State University. They have developed this test. It is designed for Maine Coon breeders who need to check that their breeding lines are healthy and that their breeding cats are not carriers of this devastating disease.


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