Maine Coons are typically known for being a healthy, sturdy cat breed. But, Maine Coon hip dysplasia is, unfortunately, a relatively common Maine Coon health problem.
With this in mind, therefore, it is important to learn as much as you can about this health condition so you can catch it early and slow its progression.
Hip dysplasia occurs when the ball and socket joint that connects the femur to the pelvis is malformed. Over time, the joint rubs against the pelvis, loosening the joint and results in pain, inflammation, and stiffness. There is no way to prevent this inherited condition, but if it’s caught early on, it can be treated to slow down the progression.
While hip dysplasia is a painful condition that can’t be fixed without surgery, it’s not a death sentence!
Cats with hip dysplasia can be managed through a variety of different treatments to help reduce pain and increase your cat’s mobility.
Read on to learn how you can manage hip dysplasia in your cat, as well as what you can do to catch it early on and slow down the progression of the condition.
What Is Maine Coon Hip Dysplasia?
The Maine Coon is an incredibly popular cat breed known for its extra-large size.
These cats developed naturally in the wild, and have since been bred and refined by cat fanciers.
Due to a smaller gene pool, most purebred cats are more likely to suffer from genetic conditions than regular cats, but the Maine Coon’s wild origins mean that they’re typically healthy hardy cats.
However, Maine Coons are still prone to a few different genetic or inherited conditions, including:
Another inherited condition common amongst Maine Coons is hip dysplasia.
Did you know that the average house cat only has about a 5% chance of having hip dysplasia, but this number can increase to 20% in certain cat breeds, including:
- Maine Coon
Overall, hip dysplasia occurs in about 18% of Maine Coon Cats. This makes it one of the most common conditions in this cat breed.
Maine Coon hip dysplasia age can vary a lot, but most cases begin between four and sixty months old.
Sadly, the condition gets progressively worse with age. However, this progression can be slowed with treatment, particularly if it’s caught in its early stages.
So what exactly is hip dysplasia?
The joint that allows hip movement is a kind of ball and socket joint, where the femoral head can rotate within the pelvis, allowing leg movement.
In cats with hip dysplasia, however, this femoral head is shaped oddly and grinds against the pelvis as it moves.
This means that, as a cat walks, jumps, or uses its back legs, the joint between the femur and pelvis is gradually eroded.
Over time, this joint becomes loose, resulting in inflammation and painful grinding that makes it difficult or even impossible for the affected cat to move.
Cats with hip dysplasia often limp and have difficulty jumping onto their favorite sleeping spots, or even climbing into the litter box (sources 1,2,3).
Causes Of Feline Hip Dysplasia
Hip dysplasia is an inherited disorder, which means it’s caused by genetics.
The genes responsible for this disorder must be inherited from both parents, although it’s possible for a cat to pass this disorder onto its offspring without outwardly showing any signs of hip dysplasia itself.
Unlike some inherited conditions, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, hip dysplasia is caused by a combination of genes, rather than just one.
Unfortunately, this means that there’s no way to test for hip dysplasia. Instead, you’ll simply have to wait and see (source 1,2).
Maine Coon Hip Dysplasia Symptoms
For a long time, it was believed that dogs are much more likely to suffer from hip dysplasia than cats.
Now, however, experts are wondering if cats are more likely to have hip dysplasia than we originally thought!
This is because cats are experts at hiding pain and injuries, and some owners never even become aware that their cat is suffering from hip dysplasia.
Discovering and diagnosing hip dysplasia in cats can be tricky, but knowledge is power!
The following are symptoms of hip dysplasia in Maine Coon Cats, so you can hopefully catch this condition early on:
1. Irritability Or Lashing Out
Cats are experts at hiding pain and injury because it was advantageous to appear strong in the wild. Today, however, this tendency to hide pain can actually make things worse for cats.
One of the earliest symptoms of pain in cats is:
Does your cat hiss or bite when you pet it, particularly near its buttocks?
This might be your cat’s way of telling you that it’s in pain, and doesn’t want to be touched there!
Sadly, a lot of cats with hip dysplasia become quite cranky because they’re in constant pain, and a lot of owners automatically assume that their cat doesn’t like them anymore.
2. Decreased Movement
For cats with hip dysplasia, walking, jumping, and climbing becomes painful.
A cat with hip dysplasia may stop climbing or jumping onto its favorite spots, and begin laying around a lot more.
You might assume your cat is more tired than usual or has become lazy. The real cause behind this, however, is due to chronic pain and inflammation.
3. Changes In Gait And Stance
A cat with hip dysplasia might have an unusual gait, with an odd swaying in their back legs as they walk. Your cat might also begin limping, particularly after a bout of exercise.
Your cat might also “bunny-hop” to get places.
Finally, cats with hip dysplasia sometimes stand with an unusual posture, often with their back legs very close together.
4. Standing Up Slowly
While you may not notice much difference in your cat’s walk at first, keep an eye on how your cat gets to its feet.
Often, cats with hip dysplasia have difficulty rising due to the motion required of their femoral joint.
5. Changes In Muscle Mass
As your cat’s condition becomes more painful, it will begin to rely more on the front half of its body, and use the back half of its body as little as possible.
Cats with hip dysplasia usually have larger, more muscular front shoulders, and thin atrophied back legs and buttocks.
Treatment For Hip Dysplasia In Cats
Hip dysplasia may be a chronic condition, but that doesn’t mean a cat with hip dysplasia is a lost cause!
If you suspect your Maine Coon to be suffering from hip dysplasia, make sure you read the following methods of treating hip dysplasia in cats, to ensure your Maine Coon still lives a long, happy life:
|Pain is probably the worst |
part of hip dysplasia in cats,
so veterinarians often prescribe
anti-inflammatory drugs and
painkillers to help manage your
|Hip dysplasia in Maine Coon |
cats are greatly exacerbated by
obesity. Once hip dysplasia is
diagnosed, your vet will work
with you to find a healthy diet to
manage or maintain your cat’s
|Physiotherapy||Gentle, low-impact exercise |
and the reduction of more
extreme exercise is often an
important part of hip dysplasia
|Surgery||Finally, in more severe cases, |
your veterinarian might
There are four different types
of surgery that can be used for
1. Triple Pelvic Osteotomy (TPO)
2. Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis
(JPS) is used for younger cats.
3. Excision arthroplasty (EA) is
a cheaper option for older cats
4. Total hip replacement (THR)
is an expensive and more
aggressive treatment that
typically yields better results for
older cats that don’t respond
well to other treatments.
Cat Hip Dysplasia Surgery Cost
There are four different types of surgery for cats with hip dysplasia.
Unfortunately, the hip dysplasia surgery cost can be quite expensive, so veterinarians usually only use surgery as a last resort.
The first two kinds of surgery for hip dysplasia in cats can only be performed on young cats.
1. Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis
The first option, juvenile pubic symphysiodesis, can only be performed on cats that are six months or younger and involves fusing the joint and hip together to add stability.
This is a simple surgery that only costs about $800.
2. Triple Pelvic Osteotomy
Triple pelvic osteotomy, also known as TPO, is another option for younger cats that are less than a year old.
In this surgery, the joint is simply rotated to reduce grinding.
This surgery is about $1,500 per hip.
3. Femoral Head And Neck Incision
The most common surgery in cats with hip dysplasia is referred to as a femoral head and neck incision.
This surgery is usually less aggressive, has a smaller recovery time. It is also cheaper.
This surgery costs between $1,500 and $3,000 on average.
The recovery time for hip dysplasia surgery in cats is only a few weeks.
4. Hip Replacement
In more severe cases, some cats require a total hip replacement.
The recovery time for this is a little bit longer, and the surgery usually costs about $4,000 (source 1).
What Happens If Cat Hip Dysplasia Is Left Untreated
If you catch hip dysplasia early on, you can slow the progression.
If it’s left untreated, however, your cat’s hip dysplasia will get progressively worse, until your cat is barely able to stand or walk with its back legs.
How To Help A Cat With Hip Dysplasia
Learning that your cat has hip dysplasia can be difficult to come to terms with at first, but this condition isn’t a death sentence!
Cats with hip dysplasia can still live long, full lives – they just need a little bit of extra support.
Here are some things you can do to manage your cat’s hip dysplasia (source 1):
1. Maintain A Health Weight
Hip dysplasia is caused by the femoral head grinding against the pelvis.
This health condition is exacerbated by stress, and extra weight can also be a huge factor in how quickly the condition progresses.
Overweight or obese cats often suffer a lot more from hip dysplasia, so helping your cat shed those few extra pounds can make all the difference!
2. Pain Management
Sadly, cats with hip dysplasia have to deal with quite a bit of pain and inflammation.
Talk with your vet about ways you can help manage your cat’s pain, whether that be through medicine or alternative treatments.
3. Change Playtime
Maine Coons are active, energetic cats that need a lot of stimulation.
Sadly, though, exercise isn’t just painful for cats with hip dysplasia; it also worsens the condition!
This means you might have to get creative when it comes to playing with your cat.
Find ways to give your cat exercise and entertainment that don’t involve running or using its back legs too much.
4. Go For A Swim
Swimming is a wonderful alternative form of exercise for cats with hip dysplasia!
This is a low-impact kind of exercise that doesn’t put much additional strain on your cat’s affected joints.
Swimming also helps to strengthen your cat’s muscles, which adds support to the affected joints.
Furthermore, while most cats are known to hate water, most Maine Coons love going for a swim!
5. Make Everything More Accessible
Cats with hip dysplasia have a difficult time jumping and climbing, which means you’ll have to do a bit of rearranging to make your cat’s life easier.
Don’t place beds or toys high up, or on surfaces, your cat can’t reach. The same is especially true for food and water!
For more severe cases of hip dysplasia, you may even need to purchase lower litter boxes like this one sold by Amazon, as your cat may have trouble climbing over them.
Finally, make sure to keep all of your cat’s necessities on one level; don’t place food and water on the second floor, and keep the litter boxes on the first floor!
6. Changes In Furniture
To make your home more accessible for your cat, you can also add pet ramps or steps. I love this cat ramp sold on Amazon, as it is not only portable but also folds up to save space when not in use.
Sturdy, wooden ramps can be placed on couches, beds, or other favorite pieces of furniture.
These smaller inclines are much more manageable for cats with hip dysplasia and ensure that your cat can remain independent throughout its life.
Another ideal cat ramp for a Maine Coon suffering from hip dysplasia is this high-quality 2-in-1 cat ramp and scratcher (link to Amazon). Not only does it help prevent your Maine Coon from using your sofa as scratching posts, but it can also hold 80lbs worth of weight!
Take a closer look at this large and sturdy cat ramp:
7. Give Your Cat An Extra Boost
Unfortunately, cats with hip dysplasia can’t do everything on their own.
Able-bodied cats, particularly Maine Coons, love to jump and climb.
If your cat has a favorite spot that can only be reached by climbing or jumping, such as the windowsill, the top of the cat tree, or even a tall couch, it may need a bit of assistance from time to time.
Picking up your cat and placing it in its favorite spots means your cat will still be able to enjoy the things it loves in life.
Feline Hip Dysplasia Prevention
Feline hip dysplasia, unfortunately, cannot be prevented in individual cats, since it is due to the shape of your cat’s joints.
However, by being cautious and observant, you can sometimes catch hip dysplasia in its early stages, and treat it early on to slow down the progression.
Keep an eye out for:
- Stiff Walking
- Apparent Pain
- Tenderness in your cat
Contact your vet as soon as you suspect something might be wrong.
Thankfully, hip dysplasia can be prevented in the future by spaying and neutering any cats affected by the condition.
Learn when is the best time to neuter or spay your Maine Coon kitten.
Maine Coon breeders have the responsibility to never breed any cats with this condition.
Cat Hip Dysplasia Life Expectancy
Hip dysplasia is a chronic condition, so a lot of owners wonder, how long can a cat live with hip dysplasia?
Thankfully, while this condition can be painful and reduce a cat’s mobility, it doesn’t shorten its lifespan!
Maine Coons have an average life expectancy between 12 and 15 years, and even a Maine Coon with hip dysplasia can be expected to live a long and healthy life.
Pictures Of Cats With Hip Dysplasia
Searching images of cats with hip dysplasia can help give you a better sense of what to look for.
For example, many cats with hip dysplasia stand with an unusual gait, where their back legs are close together.
Unfortunately, looking up early sign pictures of cats with hip dysplasia will not yield as many useful results.
This is because, in its early stages, hip dysplasia is more difficult to detect, and usually manifests in behavioral changes rather than physical changes.
Maine Coon hip dysplasia is a fairly common inherited disorder caused by a malformed femoral joint.
As the head of the cat’s femur grinds against the cat’s pelvis, the joint becomes loosened and inflamed, resulting in stiffness, lameness, and pain.
While this condition is chronic, it can be managed through medication, weight changes, and in more extreme cases, surgery.
It can be more difficult to live with a cat with hip dysplasia, however, these cats don’t have a shorter lifespan, and can still have long, happy lives.
Cat Hip Dysplasia X-Ray
X-Rays can be used to monitor the progression of hip dysplasia, and your veterinarian might take x-rays over a period of months to see if treatment is helping to slow the progression.