Whilst the Maine Coon cat breed is generally considered to be hardy, they do suffer from certain Maine Coon health problems that shouldn’t be overlooked.
One such issue is the various hormonal disorders in Maine Coon cats, which we will discuss in-depth in this article.
The key Maine Coon cat hormonal disorders that owners need to be aware of are hypothyroidism and diabetes mellitus. Hypothyroidism is most common in teenage Maine Coons, or older, Maine Coon cats that produce excess thyroid hormones. Diabetes is prevalent at all ages and is caused by an abnormal response to insulin.
While there is a good chance that most of us have heard of diabetes, and perhaps even hypothyroidism, many owners do not know the key signs and symptoms to watch out for.
In this article, we guide Maine Coon cat lovers through the process of identifying Maine Coon cat hormonal issues, and what this means for your cat on a day-to-day basis.
We also show you how to identify these cat hormonal issues in your Maine Coon and potentially make some life-saving lifestyle adjustments.
Hormonal Disorders In Maine Coon Cats
The Maine Coon cat is very well known for being a hardy breed that is well adapted to living a tough and unforgiving life in the great outdoors.
While Maine Coons are prone to some medical conditions, as are most cat breeds, they are not overly delicate and make robust pets for dedicated owners. Even first-time owners.
Something that should be considered highly important to be a responsible pet owner, but is often overlooked entirely, is hormonal disorders in cats.
Keep reading this article to learn the following:
- What are hormonal disorders?
- What do they mean for your cat?
- How to identify cat hormonal disorders
- How to deal with Maine Coon hormonal disorders
It is a complicated dynamic of the pet-owner relationship that has the potential to cause a lot of issues if it is not adequately considered.
What Are Cat Hormones?
Before we get into what hormonal disorders are it is important to understand what hormones are and what role they play in a cat’s bodily functions.
Hormones are chemical messages that control huge swaths of how the feline (and human) body works. They affect everything from:
- Reproductive Function
But, sometimes, these hormonal messengers do not quite work as intended.
Sometimes the body produces too much, or too little, of a particular hormone that can cause damaging effects on the bodily functions of your Maine Coon cat.
In some cases, your cat’s body will react poorly to certain hormonal signals which then causes them to act strangely or even affect their health.
And yes, sometimes, cat hormones can cause your Maine Coon to be a moody little kitty!
Maine Coon Cat Hormonal Problems
Here are some of the most common place hormonal disorders in cats (source 1):
Hypothyroidism in cats is very common and is caused by the overproduction of the thyroid gland which is producing thyroid hormones.
Thyroid hormones are used to control the body’s metabolism.
Too many thyroid hormones being produced causes the metabolism to speed up too much and too few causes the body to not metabolize fast enough.
2. Diabetes Mellitus
Diabetes Mellitus works just the same in cats as it does in people. For the most part.
Diabetes is caused by the body’s lack of availability of the hormone insulin.
The pancreas creates insulin which in turn breaks down the sugars in the bloodstream.
Diabetic cats cannot break these down resulting in overly elevated blood sugar levels.
Hypersomatotropism is the overproduction of the growth hormone.
It is commonly found alongside diabetes though the two can be mutually exclusive.
Overproduction of growth hormones can cause your cat’s body to become very confused about when to stop growing.
Your cat’s body might also become confused regards how big it should grow which has all sorts of knock-on health effects.
Hyperadrenocorticism is the overproduction of the hormone cortisol from the adrenal glands.
This is commonly found in older Maine Coon cats, just as it is most commonly found in older people.
Cortisol is the stress hormone that is triggered during the fight or flight response. It does so by limiting other bodily functions such as the digestive system.
Causes Of Hormone Imbalance In Cats
There are numerous causes of Maine Coon hormonal imbalances that you should be aware of.
However, it is also important to understand that sometimes it is just luck of the draw and some cats may be more (or less) inclined to produce certain hormones.
Here are some key causes of hormonal imbalance in cats:
When cats go through puberty they begin to produce certain hormones in greater quantity.
Sexual maturity in Maine Coons happens at about five to six months old and can be a time of great hormonal change and stress for you, the owner, and your Maine Coon.
When a cat is spayed there is sometimes a present issue called ovarian remnant syndrome that is caused by ovarian tissue remaining inside the female cat’s body.
Hormonal imbalance in spayed cats is usually an increased level of estrogen caused by this ovarian remnant syndrome, which can often lead to faux pregnancies and signs of your cat being in heat.
Sometimes, but not always, a tumor growing adjacent to a hormone-producing gland can cause that gland to alter its levels of production.
A good example of this is a tumor pressing on the adrenal gland distorting the levels of cortisol produced.
As cats age, they are more likely to develop tumors all around the body. Many harmless, many not.
Around the 7 or 8-year mark, cats can often develop adenomas which are non-cancerous tumors.
However, these tumors often are found in the thyroid gland causing it to become over-enlarged and produce too much thyroid hormone.
Cats that are overweight due to overconsumption of food, or a poor diet, are likely to be incapable of producing enough insulin naturally to break down all the sugars in their bloodstream.
This causes them to become diabetic.
Cat Hormone Imbalance Symptoms
Hormonal imbalances in cats are not always easy to identify for people without a veterinary degree.
However, there are some things to look out for that may help you make an at-home diagnosis and give you the evidence you feel you need to take your Maine Coon to the vet.
Here are some cat hormonal imbalance symptoms to look out for:
- Excessive Drinking: Overconsumption of water is a common symptom of hyperthyroidism.
- Weight Loss: Usually a symptom of hyperthyroidism (over metabolism)
- Obesity: Obesity is often seen alongside diabetes, whether it is the cause or a symptom of it.
- Restlessness: Restlessness is a common symptom of too much cortisol production giving the sense of your cat being constantly on edge.
- Tremors: Tremors in the body, shaking, almost vibrating, and being unable to balance, a key symptom to look out for.
- Oddly Proportioned: Cats with oddly sized feet (way too big) or squarish oversized jaws are often overproducing growth hormones.
Hormonal Cat Behaviour
How do hormones affect animal behavior?
Hormones affect feline behavior much the same way they affect ours.
It is beyond their control the same way we have limited control over our own.
We can contemplate our feelings and “ignore” them if they seem irrational. However, your cat cannot.
For example, a cat that is over-producing cortisol and is in a semi-permanent state of fight or flight cannot convince itself that this is irrational.
Instead, they will seem incredibly stressed and on edge. As if they anticipate something bad is about to happen. Which, to an extent, they do.
Similarly, cats that do not produce enough thyroid hormones and thus have too low metabolism may lose all appetite and even go so far as to starve themselves to death.
Maine Coon Genetic Diseases
Maine Coons are quite robust compared to many cat breeds, but they are not immune to all diseases and medical issues.
There are some common Maine Coon cat diseases that are believed to be hereditary. If not, at least influenced by their parents.
Below are the main Maine Coon health diseases and problems:
Hip Dysplasia is caused by arthritis in the hind leg hips and can occasionally lead to paralysis.
Hip Dysplasia is often closely related to the parent’s hips. If mom and dad have healthy hips so will the kitten, most likely.
A common cardiac disease in many cat breeds.
While it is not a hereditary illness there is a close link between the health of a cat’s heart and the health of its parent’s hearts.
Spinal Muscular Atrophy
A genetic disease that affects the spine of the Maine Coon and causes instability and abnormalities in their posture and ability to walk.
Polycystic Kidney Disease
A genetic disease that causes ulcers to form on the kidneys of the Maine Coon that can become extremely painful.
So, you now understand what the main hormonal disorders in Maine Coon cats are.
You will also have a superb knowledge of what hormones are, what hormonal imbalances are, and how you might identify them.
Sometimes, it is just bad luck and a cat may develop some kind of hormonal issue later in life.
Other times, it is caused by environmental factors such as the food they are provided or their living situation.
If you are unsure about anything or suspect your Maine Coon may have hormonal imbalances, it is best to contact a veterinary practice and book an appointment. Just to be on the safe side.
Maine Coon Back Leg Problems
Hip Dysplasia is a common issue in Maine Coons and typically affects them in their back legs. Maine Coons suffer from Hip Dysplasia in high numbers (23%) compared to many other cat breeds.
Maine Coon Noisy Breathing
Maine Coon cats can struggle with noisy breathing for two reasons. One, there is a blockage in their windpipe (high-pitched breathing). Or, they have an issue with their nose (low-pitched).
Are Maine Coon Cats Moody?
Maine Coons are not known for being moody. Instead, they are usually considered friendly. They are, however, prone to having occasional mood swings. If constantly moody they may have an underlying medical condition that needs diagnosing.