Maine Coon Joint Problems (Vet Approved)

Maine Coon joint problems are a major health concern for this large cat breed.

Maine Coon owners and those interested in purchasing one of these gentle felines would be wise to read this article to learn what joint problems may occur and how to avoid them.

Maine Coons are more prone to orthopedic problems than most other cats because of their immense size. Fortunately, with proper care and management, as well as a well-balanced diet, Maine Coons’ bones and joints can be kept healthy, and orthopedic issues can be significantly reduced.

If you own a Maine Coon and are concerned that your big cat is suffering from joint problems, we can help.

This article is a comprehensive guide that has been reviewed and approved by small animal veterinarian Dr. Abdul Basit Javed (DVM, RVMP).

Read this article to learn how to identify Maine Coon joint problems, how to treat cat joint issues, plus the best ways to reduce their incidence.

Maine Coon Joint Problems

Maine Coons are an old cat breed thought to be the only cat breed indigenous to the United States. They are also the world’s largest household cats.

Despite their size, Maine Coons are gentle giants with an outgoing personalities.

Whilst they enjoy being around their owners, following them wherever they go, these large cats often prefer to rest next to their owners rather than on them as a lap cat would.

The Maine Coon cat’s large size brings with it some health issues. One such health problem associated with the Maine Coon cat breed is joint problems.

Maine Coons are prone to many joint problems as they are heavy-weight cats.

Some of these joint problems are acquired as a result of poor nutrition, care, and management, whereas others are hereditary conditions that are passed down from parents to offspring.

Maine Coons also become susceptible to joint problems as they age.

The following are some of the most common joint problems experienced by Maine Coons:

Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia is one of the most common Maine Coon back leg problems.

Hip dysplasia, also known as hip luxation or hip displacement, is a painful and serious joint condition that affects Maine Coons.

According to 20-year data from the radiographic health screening program of approximately 5038 pedigree-registered Maine Coon cats, a 37.4% prevalence of FHD (Feline Hip Dsplsia) was discovered.

Another statistic claims that approximately 18% of all Maine Coons have hip dysplasia, though this is not thought to be very accurate (source 1,2).

Hip dysplasia occurs due to the abnormal development of the hip joint.

The joint membrane degrades over time, resulting in the loosening of the hip joint and, in some cases, osteoarthritis.

The hip joint is essentially a ball and socket joint, and when it becomes loose, the ball of the femur bone pops out of the socket, resulting in hip dysplasia.

Hip dysplasia symptoms include:

  • Varying degrees of lameness
  • Loss of muscle mass on the thighs
  • Abnormal gait
  • Pain
  • Paralysis (in rare cases)

Since hip dysplasia is genetically transferred one good way to prevent this condition is by not breeding Maine Coons that have hip dysplasia.

FHD treatment options in Maine Coons include surgery and medications (source 1,2,3,4,5).

Read more about Maine Coon hip dysplasia, here.


Do Maine Coons have joint problems?

The sad truth is yes. One of the most common joint problems is Maine Coons arthritis.

The inflammation of the joints is what causes arthritis.

Arthritis can affect not only the Maine Coon joints but also the surrounding:

  • Tissues
  • Ligaments
  • Joint Membranes
  • Bones

The cause, treatment, and prevention of arthritis depend on its type since Maine Coons can suffer from different types of arthritis.

Here are the four main types of cat arthritis (source 1,2):

a. Osteoarthritis

The most common type of arthritis in Maine Coons is osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease or degenerative arthritis.

Senior Maine Coons are more prone to osteoarthritis.

Normally, the surfaces of the joint are smooth, allowing them to glide against one another without friction. Unfortunately, these joint surfaces degenerate over time as a result of aging.

When the joint surface degenerates and becomes rough, movement causes friction, which is excruciatingly painful for a Maine Coon.

Symptoms include:

  • Lameness
  • Joint Swelling
  • Painful Joints
  • Restricted Movements
  • Muscle Wasting
  • Grating Sounds During Joint Movement

Medications are prescribed by vets to reduce the pain and swelling.

However, permanent treatment of osteoarthritis in Maine Coons is surgery in which the damaged surface of the joint is repaired or replaced by an artificial metal surface, usually titanium.

b. Septic Arthritis

Bacteria cause septic arthritis.

Bacteria and their toxins enter the Maine Coon’s joint cavity via its bloodstream. Bacteria can also enter the joint cavity through an open wound injury or unhygienic surgery.

Rickettsiae and spirochetes can cause septic arthritis in cats if they enter the bloodstream through tick bites.

Septic arthritis symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Symptoms similar to osteoarthritis

The following factors are used to treat septic arthritis in Maine Coons:

  • Antibiotics
  • IV fluids
  • Flushing of the joint cavity
  • Surgical removal of dead or damaged joint tissue

c. Immune-Mediated Arthritis

Maine Coons are susceptible to immune-mediated arthritis, which is a rare type of arthritis.

Immune-mediated arthritis is defined as joint inflammation caused by the body’s own immune system.

Some types of immune-mediated arthritis can destroy both the cartilage and the bone beneath, causing the cat to suffer excruciating pain.

The immune-mediated condition systemic lupus erythematosus causes arthritis in cats.

Immune-mediated arthritis typically affects other organs of the cat as well, particularly the skin.

Symptoms include:

  • Lameness
  • Pain
  • Swelling in multiple joints
  • Fever
  • General feeling of illness
  • Persistent loss of appetite

The exact causes of immune-mediated arthritis in Maine Coons are unknown, but treatment typically consists of anti-inflammatory medications.

Even after treatment, relapses in this condition are possible.

d. Cancerous Arthritis

As the name suggests, cancerous arthritis is typically brought on by synovial cell sarcomas, which are tumors of the synovial cells in the joint.

Because this is a malignant (cancerous) tumor, cancer has already spread to the lungs in approximately 25% of Maine Coons before they are diagnosed.

Signs include:

  • Lameness
  • Swelling around the joints

Amputation of the affected limb is usually used to permanently remove the source of pain and possibly to slow the spread of cancer to other body organs.

Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation, also known as kneecap displacement, is a hereditary condition that can affect Maine Coon of any age.

The kneecap or patella can be displaced from its normal position due to abnormal development.

It can also occur as a result of issues with the:

  • Hip
  • Femur
  • Tibia

The severity of this condition determines the symptoms.

In mild cases, Maine Coons may exhibit infrequent lameness and the kneecap may manually return to its normal position.

Lameness will be more persistent in severe cases and may be accompanied by pain.

Vets can perform surgery to permanently resolve this issue in Maine Coons, and the prognosis is usually good (source 1).

Joint Trauma

Joint trauma or injuries are also a major cause of joint problems in Maine Coons, as these cats are:

  • Heavy-weight
  • Agile
  • Active

The following are some of the most common joint traumas that can occur in Maine Coons (sources 1,2):

a. Cranial Cruciate Ligament Tear

One of the most important structures in the Maine Coons stifle joint (knee joint) is the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL).

This ligament provides the following functions:

  • Aids in motion
  • Aligns the tibia with the femur bone
  • Stabilizes the knee joint

This ligament can tear partially or completely as a result of an injury or if the joint has already degenerated due to immune reactions or genetic defects.

Torn CCLs in Maine Coons can cause knee instability and result in:

  • Cartilage (meniscus) injury
  • Bony outgrowths
  • Hardening of the joint membrane

The symptoms of a complete CCL tear in Maine Coon cats, include:

  • Lameness
  • Pain
  • Joint Swelling
  • Instability
  • Frictional sounds during joint movement

To diagnose this problem, a Cranial Drawer test may be performed, in which the femur moves ahead of the tibia when the knee is bent which is normally not the case.

There are both medical and surgical treatment options available.

Physical therapy, weight loss, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can be used to alleviate the pain.

As long as the degenerative joint disease has not progressed too far, the prognosis after surgery is favorable.

b. Joint Fractures

Shoulder, elbow, carpal (wrist), hip, stifle (knee), and tarsal (ankle) joints of Maine Coons are commonly prone to fractures because all of these joints are weight-bearing joints.

Since Maine Coons are big heavy cats, these joints are under a lot of strain.

Young Maine Coons are more prone to joint fractures because their bones are underdeveloped and have a soft region known as a growth plate.

The severity of a joint fracture determines the symptoms, but common symptoms include

  • Varying degrees of lameness
  • Pain
  • Reluctance to move
  • Swelling on the affected joint

Joint fracture treatment is determined by the location and severity of the fracture.

Typically, the goal of treatment is to heal the fracture in such a way that normal limb alignment and function are retained.

External treatments include using a cast (POP) to keep the joint in place and slings to reduce motion until complete healing has occurred.

Internal joint fracture treatments include the use of:

  • Wires
  • Pins
  • Plates
  • Screws

These are used to keep the bone or joint in place until the healing is completed.

Painkillers and anti-inflammatories are also given, along with antibiotics to prevent infection at the surgical site.

c. Palmar Carpal Ligament Tear

When jumping or falling from a great height, Maine Coons can hyperflex their limbs, causing over-extension of the carpal (wrist) joint and tearing of the Palmar Carpal Ligament.

Although this is a rare condition, it does exist.

The Maine Coon palmar carpal ligament tear symptoms include the cat being hesitant to place its paw on the ground or put weight on it, as well as swelling of the carpal joint.

If the fracture is not severe, a vet may only place a splint to keep the bone and joint in place until it heals completely.

In extreme cases, surgery may be required to allow the ligament to heal properly.

What Causes Joint Pain In Cats?

Below are some of the most common causes of joint pain in cats (source 1,2):


Any damage or injury to a joint or surrounding tissue or ligaments is a major cause of pain in cats.

Joint injuries in cats can occur as a result of the following:

  • Rigors of physical activity
  • Obesity
  • Rough play
  • Jumping from high places


Infections can also cause joint pain and swelling.

Septic arthritis is caused by many bacterial, viral, and protozoal infections in cats.

Immune complexes (antigen+antibody complex) are sometimes formed in the body as a result of infections, and these complexes can reach the joint capsule via the bloodstream.

When an antibody destroys antigens (foreign objects, bacteria, viruses, etc), it can sometimes cause damage to the surrounding normal tissue, resulting in joint pain.

Genetic Defects

Joint pain in cats can also be caused by hereditary or genetic abnormalities.

If the joint cartilage does not develop properly or if the joint alignment is not correct due to a genetic defect, the cat will experience pain.

As a result, it is not recommended to breed cats with joint abnormalities, particularly hip dysplasia.

Degenerative Conditions

Arthritis is the most common cause of joint pain in cats.

The most common type of arthritis in cats is osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative arthritis.

The smooth surface of the joint erodes away in degenerative arthritis, causing the bones to rub against each other, which is extremely painful for the cat.

Allergic Reactions

Pollen allergies, as well as other types of allergies, can cause joint pain in cats.

When a cat’s body experiences allergic reactions, inflammatory substances are released into the bloodstream, causing joint pain.

Old Age

With age, the joint surface can deteriorate.

Senior cats are more likely to experience joint pain than younger cats.

The lubricating fluid (synovial fluid) in the joints decreases with age, causing friction and is thus more pain.

How To Tell If Cat Has Joint Pain

Cats with joint pain frequently exhibit a variety of symptoms.

The following are some of the most typical symptoms of joint pain in cats, depending on the cause and severity (sources 1,2):

  • Varying degrees of lameness
  • Reluctance to move
  • Abnormal gait
  • Muscle wasting usually at the thigh regions
  • Reluctance to jump from high places
  • Your cat will avoid stairs and going to the litter box
  • Swelling around the joints
  • Behavioral changes such as becoming aggressive or grumpy
  • Increased vocalization particularly when touched at the joints
  • Chewing or licking the joints
  • No interest in playing
  • Frictional sounds particularly due to arthritis
  • Fever in some cases (septic arthritis)
  • Decreased appetite or complete loss of appetite
  • Poor coat due to decreased self-grooming

What Helps Joint Pain In Cats?

Below are some of the best ways to help joint pain in cats (source 1,2,3):


Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are pain relievers that help reduce inflammation in the cat’s joints.

NSAIDs are cyclooxygenase (COX) inhibitors that prevent the release of prostaglandins, which cause pain and inflammation.

These are typically prescribed for arthritis-related joint pain in cats.


Steroids are very strong anti-inflammatories, but they are only used in cats with severe joint pain because steroids reduce immunity, making cats more susceptible to infections and diseases.

Corticosteroids are some of the most commonly used steroids in cats for joint pain.


Opioids are powerful pain relievers prescribed to cats suffering from severe joint pain caused by fractures or trauma.

Opioids suppress nervous activity by blocking specific receptors in the body that induce pain responses and, in some cases, they can cause sedation.

Morphine is a common opioid used in cats to treat severe joint pain.

Physical Therapy

Cats suffering from arthritis and joint fracture pain can benefit greatly from physical therapy provided by a qualified veterinary physiotherapist.

Physical therapy can help reduce joint pain by improving muscle health and joint mobility.

Weight Loss

If your cat is overweight, weight loss can significantly alleviate joint pain. If your cat weighs less, the strain on the weight-bearing joints will be reduced, and the pain will subside.

Dietary changes and regular exercise can help cats lose weight.

Mild Exercise

Mild exercise can help your cat’s joints move more frequently, which can help to ease pain and promote better joint health if your cat suffers from joint problems.

However, you should avoid strenuous physical activity otherwise the joint pain will worsen only.

Nutritional Changes

If your cat suffers from joint pain, your veterinarian may recommend a special diet.

Joint pain can be reduced and prevented by consuming food high in vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin D.

Your veterinarian may also prescribe dietary supplements that improve your cat’s cartilage health.

Comfortable Bedding

Many cat owners underestimate the significance of comfortable bedding.

Comfortable bedding, particularly memory foam bedding, is highly recommended for cats suffering from joint pain.

Memory foam provides support for cats’ painful joints, especially if you have a large cat like a Maine Coon, and helps relieve joint pain.

Laser Therapy Or Photobiomodulation (PBMT)

This technique has recently gained popularity in veterinary medicine due to its quick and effective results, particularly in pain relief.

A veterinarian employs a laser probe that emits light waves of specific wavelengths at the affected joints of the cat.

A veterinarian employs a laser probe that emits light waves of specific wavelengths at the affected joints of the cat.

The results of this non-invasive technique are so rapid that some cats experience an immediate reduction in pain symptoms and resume normal walking shortly after the first session.

This method is mostly used on horses and may not be available at every veterinary clinic.


Surgery can be used to permanently treat certain types of joint pain in cats.

For example, if your cat has joint pain due to osteoarthritis, your veterinarian may perform surgery to repair or replace the damaged surface of the joint with an artificial metal joint.

Natural Pain Relief For Cats

Below are some of the natural ways to provide pain relief for cats (source 1,2,3):

Cold Therapy

Cold therapy or cold compress is one natural method for relieving pain in cats.

This technique is excellent for reducing joint pain caused by arthritis in cats as well as pain caused by soft tissue injuries.

Cold therapy reduces blood flow to the affected area by constricting blood vessels, and reducing inflammation, and is especially beneficial for chronic pain in cats.

Warm Therapy

Warm therapy or a warm compress is an excellent natural pain reliever for cats.

Warm therapy relieves ligament pain by increasing blood flow and speeding up the healing process.

CDB Products

Although CBD oil and other products are not FDA-approved for use in cats, they are widely used as over-the-counter natural products to treat pain and anxiety in cats.

CBD products can be added to the cat’s food, or topical products such as gels and creams can be applied directly to the affected area to decrease inflammation and pain.

Initially, give your cat a very small dose of any CBD product and gradually increase the dose if no side effects appear.


Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese technique that is now widely used to help manage pain in pets such as cats. It is one of the most effective medication alternatives.

Acupuncture involves inserting needles into the cat’s body at points where nerves and blood vessels overlap.

Needle insertions stimulate the cat’s nervous system, causing natural anti-inflammatories and pain-relieving substances to be released in the body, which aids in pain relief.

Chiropractic Therapy

Chiropractic care is one of the most effective natural pain relief methods, and it is now widely used in pets, particularly cats.

Chiropractic therapy relieves pressure on the cat’s nerves, improving the cat’s overall nervous health.

Chiropractic therapy is especially beneficial in treating hip pain and arthritis pain in cats.

Cat Joint Supplements

The following are some of the best available joint supplements for cats that can help improve your cat’s joint health and reduce the incidence of Maine Coon joint problems.

1. Nutramax Cosequin Joint Health Supplement

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This top-quality joint supplement for cats is made in the United States.

It is highly recommended by veterinarians because it contains glucosamine hydrochloride and sodium chondroitin sulfate, both of which improve your cat’s cartilage health.

It also contains Omega-3 Fatty Acids, which improve your cat’s bone and skin health.

2. Liquid Cat Glucosamine Joint Purr-Fection

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This product is a liquid supplement for cats’ joints. It contains glucosamine, chondroitin, hyaluronic acid, and other important nutrients to keep your cat’s hips and joints healthy.

Because it is a liquid supplement, it absorbs faster and has a more prolonged effect than solid supplements.

This liquid supplement tastes like organic beef gravy and contains no artificial ingredients.

3. Maximum Strength Hip and Joint Supplement

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Glycoflex 3 is a clinically proven joint supplement for cats that helps provide great strength and support to your cat’s joints, while also lowering the risk of hip dysplasia.

Glycoflex 3 contains 11 active ingredients to support your cat’s joints and connective tissue, including:

  • Perna canaliculus
  • Glucosamine
  • MSM
  • DMG
  • Antioxidants

What Is The Best Treatment For Cats With Arthritis?

In general, there is no permanent treatment for arthritis in cats, and veterinarians typically only prescribe painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs to manage the symptoms of arthritis in cats and ease their pain.

Aside from medications, the following are some treatments for arthritis in cats (source 1):


Surgery is thought to be a permanent solution for arthritis in cats because it removes all of the damaged cartilage and reconstructs or replaces the joint surface with a metal surface.

However, joint surgery can be very expensive for cat owners, especially if it involves replacing the dysfunctional joint surface, and it also carries several risks for the cat.

Since it is a major surgery it is only performed in a few clinics around the world.


Apart from medications and surgery, common treatments for arthritis in cats, include:

  • Laser Therapy (photobiomodulation or PBMT)
  • Cold Therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic Therapy

Common Maine Coon Health Problems

Below are the Maine Coon common health problems to watch out for:

Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA)

SMA is a genetic condition that affects the neurons in the lower spine of Maine Coons. As a result, these neurons stop working, and the muscles in the hind limbs weaken.

SMA will cause abnormal gait, posture, and gradual instability in Maine Coons.

SMA symptoms usually appear in young Maine Coons between the ages of 3 and 4 months.

Read our full guide to Maine Coon spinal muscular atrophy in this article:

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia in Maine Coons is a hereditary condition.

This condition typically begins with hip joint degeneration and progresses to hip dysplasia as the hip joint loses function.

Hip dysplasia causes Maine Coons to be reluctant to:

  • Walk
  • Jump
  • Climb Objects

They can also experience:

  • Abnormal Gait
  • Distress
  • Skinny Thigh Muscles
  • Paresis In The Hind Limbs

Hip dysplasia makes a Maine Coon’s daily life extremely uncomfortable.

Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)

One of the most common Maine Coon kidney problems is PKD.

Maine Coons with PKD are born with cysts on the kidneys. As the cat ages, these cysts start to grow in size at different rates.

These fluid-filled cysts can sometimes become so large that they interfere with normal kidney function and cause kidney failure.

Maine Coons with PKD frequently exhibit:

  • Gradual weight loss
  • Polydipsia (increased thirst)
  • Lethargy
  • Anorexia

Read our full guide to Maine Coon cat PKD, here.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)

HCM is one of the most common Maine Coon health issues, so much so that approximately 34% of Maine Coons in the UK carry the gene that causes HCM.

HCM is a condition in which the wall of a Maine Coon’s left ventricle thickens and the chamber’s capacity decreases.

As a result, less blood can accumulate in the left ventricle of a Maine Coon’s heart, causing circulatory and respiratory issues (source 1,2).

Read our full guide to Maine Coon hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

Maine Coon Lifespan

A Maine Coon has an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years.

According to research, 74% of Maine Coons live past the age of 10.

The longest-living Maine Coon recorded till this date was thought to be around 31 years old, also making it the longest-living cat in the world.

Read our guide to famous Maine Coon cats, for more information.

One of the reasons Maine Coons are considered good companions is their long lifespan.

You can extend the life of your Maine Coon by feeding it a balanced diet, exercising it regularly, and taking it to the vet for annual checkups.


Maine Coon joint problems are a common health condition in these big cats.

Common joint problems in Maine Coons include:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Arthritis
  • Patellar luxation
  • Joint traumas

Genetic defects, old age, injuries, allergic reactions, degenerative conditions, and a few other factors can all contribute to joint problems in Maine Coons.

Hip dysplasia and arthritis are the two most common joint problems in Maine Coons.

Lameness, abnormal gait, and difficulty jumping, walking, and climbing stairs are all symptoms of joint problems in Maine Coons.

Medication and surgery are both effective ways to treat and alleviate the symptoms of joint problems in Maine Coons.

Related Questions

What Do Maine Coons Die From?

Maine Coons mainly die due to different diseases. Diseases that are life-threatening for Maine Coons, particularly in old age include HCM (Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy), PKD, and cancer.

 What Diseases Are Maine Coon Cats Prone To?

Maine Coons are prone to many diseases and some of these include Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD), Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), and Hip Dysplasia.

Maine Coon Central

Hello! My name is Katrina Stewardson, and I’m a CRAZY CAT LADY! I've been in love with the Maine Coon cat breed ever since we welcomed an adorable male Maine Coon kitten into our home 10 years ago. We called him 'Pippin', but he also goes by the name ‘Pipsteroo’! Our enormous, kind-hearted cat genuinely thinks he's a dog and has convinced me that cats are Man's True Best Friend! UPDATE: We recently adopted two 4-year-old male Maine Coon cats. They are named Mika and Bali.

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