Their massive bodies, long and luxurious fur, and adorable personalities make Maine Coon cats a true joy to own. Maine Coons have many advantages as house cats since they get along well with dogs and children, are highly intelligent, and warm up to people well. However, their one downfall may be that they're prone to a number of health issues. If you own a Maine Coon, you'll want to watch out for these ailments so you're sure to catch them early.
Just as hip issues are common in large dog breeds, they're common in these big cats, too. Hip dysplasia occurs when the hip tends to come out of its socket. This can cause pain for your cat as he jumps, runs, and plays. Symptoms include the following:
- Refusal to jump on surfaces that your cat used to jump onto easily
- A general decline in activity levels
- Limping on one of the hind legs
- Irritability when you pet near the hind legs or back end
If your Maine Coon is diagnosed with hip dysplasia, your vet may recommend treatments like physical therapy and pain relievers to both keep the cat comfortable and strengthen the muscles that hold the hip in place. You'll need to keep your cat's food on the ground and discourage him from jumping onto furniture or other high places.
Spinal Muscular Atrophy
This is a genetic condition that often does not start showing symptoms until a cat is a few weeks old. Basically, the neurons in the spinal cord that control movement of the limbs start to degrade. Cats with SMA tend to walk crookedly. They may sway from side to side as they move or have trouble jumping. The disease does not cause pain, but it can make it hard for a cat to get around. Your vet may recommend supplements to help slow the degradation of the neurons. You'll also want to keep the cat from going outside or getting into any dangerous situations as he may not be able to defend himself or run from danger.
Heart Valve Abnormalities
Some Maine Coons are born with dysfunctional heart valves. These issues range in severity. Some heart defects are so mild that they never cause any symptoms. Others make cats feel lethargic, may cause them to pass out suddenly, and may even have attacks where they breath rapidly and shallowly. Your vet may recommend medications to helps stabilize the heart rate and blood pressure. It will also be very important to keep your cat at a healthy weight, as obesity force the heart to work harder and can make symptoms worse.
For more information, contact a business such as North Lexington Veterinary Clinic.