Main Health Issues of the Maine Coon Cat

Hypertrophy cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a progressive disease in which the heart muscles becomes thickened and fails to relax normally. As a result, the heart cannot fill adequately with blood, dynamics involving the heart pumping action change and congestive heart failure eventually occurs. 

First there is the MyBPC gene, which is easy to remove as we have a gene test. Second there is ultrasound scanning. We know now that there must be another HCM gene in Maine Coons as cats that are clear for the MyBPC gene have died of HCM. HCM can be detected by a cardiac ultrasound, but this only tells us that is  or is not present at the time of testing, so it can still show up at a later age. The lowest risk cats are those that have parents or grandparents with no sign of HCM when middle aged or older. Breeders should scan breeding cats regularly so that we can breed successfully away from this main health issue in Maine Coons. 

Here at SuperCoons Maine Coons all our breeding cat are scanned for HCM at the age of one year and then two yearly. We also do the genetic test and all are negative for the MyBPC mutation, PKD1, PKDef. and SMA.

Hip dysplasia is a known problem in the Maine Coon breed. Hip dysplasia describes hips that do not fit well into the socket. Over time the knocking of the hip against the hip socket can cause painful arthritic changes. In severe cases that cat may need surgery. In milder cases they many still have pain and discomfort which can go undetected as cats often do not show obvious signs when is pain. 

Some degree of hip dysplasia (HD) is present in a large minority of Maine Coons. HD appears to be polygenetic - the result of several genes working together, which means that two normal cats could produce offspring with HD. However figures collected by the Swedish hip registry show that two normal parents are less likely to produce HD in their offspring than other combinations. Therefore, it really is worth testing and working towards breeding normal to normal. However with so many cats affected, it has been recommended to breed  cats with mild hip dysplasia to cats with normal hips. 

Two (of three) traditional assessment systems that have been around for many years are the one provided by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and the one in Sweden and associated with the Pawpeds database. 

These both use a X-ray of the hip joint taken in a particular position and then assess the conformation of the hip joint.  A rating is given – OFA have Excellent, Good Normal, Fair, Borderline, Mild Moderate and Severe. Sweden has Normal Borderline, HD1, HD2, and HD3. OFA uses 3 orthopedic specialists from a pool of around 60 to rate each X-ray. Cats get a rating that is the average of the three ratings given. Sweden uses one orthopedic specialist who researched and developed his rating system independently.

PennHIP use three different stance x-rays and a formula that gives you a score of laxidity in the hip. PennHIP uses a formula they developed with measurements, like the HD scoring, but then based on movement and laxidity of the hip joint and the ligaments of the joint. The lower the score, the better, though too tight is not good either. Vets need to be trained make the X-rays in specific stances. PennHIP is slowly working to the norm between 0.5 and 0.6 as ideal in Maine Coons. The PennHIP technique tends to cost more, the reason for the icreaded charge is the added x-ray views and the additional training a vet must have to be approved to perform the PennHIP technique.

Here at SuperCoons Maine Coons we screen all our breeding cats for HD by submitting X-rays to OFA for evaluation. We breed mostly normal cats but will use cats with Fair Hips with mates with normal or excellent hips. All hip results are posted here on the website. (click on the link posted at the information of each breeding cat.)