Maine Coon cats and arthritis

Maine Coon cats and arthritis
Maine Coon cats and arthritis. Image: MikeB

One website dedicated to the Maine Coon cat tells us that the breed can be affected by the following forms of arthritis based on vet advice:

  1. Immune-mediated arthritis - this is arthritis caused by joint inflammation which in turn has been caused by the cat's immune system going wrong. I will presume that it is an auto-immune disease leading to various symptoms one of which is arthritis.
  2. Septic arthritis - this is arthritis caused by a bacterial infection and the toxins produced by the bacteria which enter the joint cavity via the bloodstream.
  3. Osteoarthritis - this is also known as degenerative joint disease arthritis.
  4. Cancerous arthritis - this apparently is the results of synovial cell sarcomas. These are tumours of the synovial cells in the joint. This is a malignant tumour which can spread to the cat's lungs in 25% of the cases.

That looks terribly bad. And it may be painting an overly negative picture of this breed. However, the greater than normal chance of this breed developing arthritis must be because the Maine Coon cat, as you probably know by now, is predisposed to developing the inherited disease hip dysplasia which damages the hip joint (see below). This will lead to arthritis.

Reduced activity

The most common features of osteoarthritis are a reduced level of activity and a reduced ability to jump and not lameness. This may make it less obvious and harder to diagnose or spot by the cat's caregiver. Additionally, cats are good at hiding health problems. And arthritis more commonly affects older cats who will be less active anyway. But arthritis is painful and the cat's caregiver will want to alleviate the pain if possible. 

Painkillers can be killers

Be warned though. Any form of painkiller must be used with great care and that even applies to veterinary approved products such as Metacam which can cause kidney disease. It can kill as far as I am concerned.

A prominent website, icatcare.org confirms what I stated above namely that hip dysplasia which is inherited predisposes the Maine Coon cat to developing arthritis.

Size counts

I would suggest, and I am not a veterinarian, that the very large size of the Maine Coon cat breed probably exacerbates both the existence of hip dysplasia and the development of arthritis in the joints separately. What I'm saying is that it isn't just hip dysplasia which can lead to arthritis it is the weight of the cat which can help bring it on.

You might know that one study found that 25% of Maine Coon cats develop hip dysplasia. Actually, I think it might be higher than that but it will depend upon the study that you refer to. Let's just say it is a substantial proportion with male cats showing a slightly higher likelihood of developing the condition.

The natural consequence of this is that there will be a substantial percentage of Maine Coon cats developing arthritis of various types.

Considerations

This is just another factor worth considering when adopting a Maine Coon cat. I am not saying that you shouldn't do it but you should do it with your eyes wide open.

They are incredibly attractive cats and for that reason they are very popular but every adopter should do 'due diligence' which means all the research they need on these health issues before adopting and plan their budgets accordingly because there will be a reasonable chance at least that they will have to seek veterinary treatment at some stage during the cat's life and I've not mentioned HCM which can affect young Maine Coon cats.

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