What Do Maine Coons Die From?


Maine Coon death is a distressing experience that hits many animal lovers, ultimately raising the need to know what do Maine Coon cats die from.

The death of these beloved family pets becomes even more of a serious concern considering that they are generally considered to be a healthy and hardy cat breed.

Maine Coons mainly die from health problems, which can be severe, leading to sudden deaths. These health problems include Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), Maine Coon cancer, seizures, Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), Hip Dysplasia, and Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD).

If you are planning to bring a Maine Coon home or have just bought one recently but wish to be aware of potential issues that could cause the death of your beloved cat, this post has got you covered.

Keep reading to learn which life-threatening health problems Maine Coon cats are prone to, and what symptoms can signal the sudden death of a Maine Coon cat.

What Do Maine Coons Die From?

Maine Coons are very popular across the continental United States, and worldwide.

Native to Maine, US, Maine Coons are among the oldest natural cat breeds in North America and continue to be one of the most beloved domestic cats.

One of the Maine Coon cat’s unique characteristics is their long-haired, heavy, and semi-water-resistant coats, which enable them to adapt to very cold climates and harsh environments.

As for their personality, Maine Coons are:

  • Highly Intelligent
  • Affectionate
  • Loyal
  • Friendly
  • Gentle and Sweet Temperament

These large cats are even nicknamed ‘gentle giants’ because of their large size contrasting with their gentle disposition.

Many people also love this breed because of their fluffy coats, remarkably stunning looks, plus their hardy qualities that have enabled them to adapt to survive harsh winter conditions.

Despite being regarded as a generally healthy and hardy cat breed, Maine Coons are prone to a number of health problems that can cause sudden death.

Here are the key health problems that are known to cause Maine Coon death (source 1):

1. Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is the commonest form of heart disease in cats and is very common in Maine Coons.

The condition occurs when the muscle walls surrounding the Maine Coon’s heart thickens, consequently affecting the heart’s efficiency levels.

Maine Coons with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy are at risk of sudden cardiac deaths because this genetic disorder causes multiple problems and, at some stages, prevents normal heart functions.

The severity of heart failure progresses gradually up to a point where the heart fails to pump blood adequately.

Notably, although the exact cause of cardiomyopathy is unknown, researchers suspect a genetic component is involved. Primarily, this is because the issue tends to affect Maine Coons with certain heart gene mutations.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy is a heart disease commonly labeled the “silent killer” since Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy symptoms can be nonexistent. However, this doesn’t mean there are no warning signs to watch out for.

Here are the key Maine Coon HCM symptoms to watch out for:

  • Fast, shallow, or labored breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Severe weight loss
  • Paralysis of the rear legs
  • Severe coughing
  • Anorexia
  • Blood clots in the heart
  • Arrhythmias (irregular, too slow, or rapid heartbeats)
  • Thromboembolism

Although HCM signs and symptoms might be non-existent, you should take your Maine Coon to the vet immediately when you notice that your feline is experiencing any of the conditions listed above.

An echocardiogram is the only means of detecting and diagnosing HCM, and a qualified veterinarian should help you rule out this life-threatening disorder.

If HCM is proven to be present, ACE inhibitors, diuretics, and beta-blockers may be prescribed as treatment. Ultimately, this will help prevent the tragic deaths of Maine Coons (source 1).

2. Maine Coon Cancer

The sad news is that Maine Coon cats have the tendency to mask illnesses, even the most life-threatening conditions.

Although cancer is not the most expected health problem in felines, it still affects some Maine Coons. In Maine Coons, cancer is characterized by unusual lumps and bumps over the feline’s body.

Maine Coon cancer is one of the serious health conditions that can send your beloved Maine Coon cat to an early grave.

While the cause for most cancers is not known, infection with the feline leukemia virus (FeLV) can increase the chances of a Maine Coon getting cancer.

In fact, lymphoma, the most common type of cancer in Maine Coons is associated with the feline leukemia virus. Other types of cancer your Maine Coon cat is prone to include (source 1,2):

  • Mast Cell Tumors
  • Bone Cancer
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Here are symptoms to watch out for, which could indicate your feline is suffering from Maine Coon cancer:

  • Persistent sores
  • Unusual lumps and bumps on the body
  • Unexplained bleeding
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty with bathroom chores
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Acting poorly

Maine Coons are good at hiding their medical problems. While this makes it hard to diagnose Maine Coon cancers, with some special testing, your veterinarian can help tell if your Maine Coon has any type of cancer.

The good news is that most types of cancers in Maine Coons are preventable at early stages.

Neutering and spaying Maine Coons is thought to help protect them against certain cancerous illnesses. At the bare minimum, neutering male Maine Coons prevents testicular cancer and prostate problems, while spaying females prevent uterine infections and breast tumors.

Ensuring your Maine Coon gets vaccinated against the feline immunodeficiency virus and feline leukemia virus can also significantly reduce the chances of other types of cancer.

In many cases, regardless of the type of cancer your feline has, surgery followed by a biopsy should help treat Maine Coon cancer (source 1,2).

3. Maine Coon Seizures

Just like humans, Maine Coons can suffer from seizures.

In Maine Coons, seizures are characterized by:

  • Convolutions
  • Fits
  • Uncontrolled Body Movements

In this regard, Maine Coon seizures essentially refer to a brain disorder that causes noticeable changes in:

  • Behavior
  • Movement
  • Feelings
  • Levels Of Consciousness

Notably, although Maine Coon deaths from seizures are uncommon, the condition can be life-threatening.

Some Maine Coon seizures like feline audiogenic reflex seizures, a form of noise-triggered seizure, can cause uncoordinated firing of neurons within the cerebrum portion of the brain.

As for the causes, Maine Coons seizures can be triggered by poisoning and toxic ingestion, developmental orders, injuries to the head, encephalitis, and serious medical issues (source 1).

Maine Coons with epilepsy can experience seizures after exhibiting the following signs and symptoms:

  • Aggressive behavior
  • Loss of consciousness with uncontrolled shaking and twitching
  • Involuntary opening and closing of the mouth
  • Accidental urination or defecation
  • Unusual loud cries as though in pain

If you suspect that your Maine Coon cat is suffering from seizures, the best thing is to inform your veterinarian immediately. Your vet will identify the primary cause of seizures, explain the appropriate prognosis, and recommend treatment options.

As with most Maine Coon health problems, early intervention can be the difference between life and death (source 1,2,3).

4. Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is one of the most common health conditions among members of the Maine Coon family.

Although the disease affects Maine Coon’s teeth and mouth and is not fatal itself, it can lead to other life-threatening issues.

If it goes unchecked, periodontal disease can lead to fatal kidney and heart conditions.

The symptoms will vary depending on the stage of periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease is made up of three stages:

  • Halitosis
  • Gingivitis
  • Periodontitis

When not treated, the damaged oral tissues allow bacteria into your cat’s bloodstream, which causes other serious issues. You can prevent all these by brushing your Maine Coon’s teeth regularly on an ongoing basis.

To get a better understanding of this Maine Coon health issue, make sure you read our complete guide to Maine Coon Teeth.

Maine Coon Life Expectancy

Maine Coon cats are well known for being a healthy, hardy breed.

However, considering that they are predisposed to developing certain fatal health problems, you could now be wondering how long do Maine Coons live for?

The average Maine Coon lifespan is 12.5 years. However, some Maine Coons have been known to reach over 15 years.

If you own a Maine Coon, you can potentially help your beloved cat live longer by ensuring that the feline gets the best level of care. This is achieve by:

With good quality care, you can potentially extend the life of your Maine Coon.

Other Maine Coon Health Problems

Besides the health problems that can cause the sudden death of Maine Coons, there are a number of non-life-threatening issues that can bring miseries into your Maine Coon’s life.

Here are some Maine Coon health problems that every owner should be aware of:

1. Hip Dysplasia

Maine Coon back leg problems is another serious Maine Coon health problem known to cause extreme pain in Maine Coons.

Essentially, it is a degenerative disease that causes a malformation of the ball-and-socket joint in the hip of Maine Coons, leading to severe pain and stiffness.

The condition compromises the affected Maine Coon’s ability to move freely.

Typically, this condition occurs when the femoral head does not fit well into the hip socket. Due to a loose fit, the femur constantly knocks against the hip socket, causing the hip joint to deteriorate. Over time, the ball-and-socket joint gets damaged, leading to loss of hip joint functions.

Notably, hip dysplasia is more prevalent in female Maine Coons than males.

Hip dysplasia limits the affected Maine Coon’s:

  • Ability to jump
  • Perform regular exercise
  • Can lead to severe lameness
  • Might cause osteoarthritis

Like hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, hip dysplasia is widely thought to have a genetic component. That is why it is crucial for breeders to screen all their breeding cats for hip dysplasia, even when the cats selected for breeding do not show outward signs of this disease.

Although hip dysplasia is not considered life-threatening, it is pervasive in Maine Coons cats.

For this reason, owners should watch out for the following signs and symptoms:

  • Joint laxity or looseness
  • Hip joint pain
  • Lameness or limping that worsens gradually
  • Trouble when jumping, running, or climbing
  • Exercise intolerance or less physical activity
  • Reduced thigh mass
  • Difficulty when getting up
  • Swaying gait
  • Stiffness and decreased range of motion in one or both rear limbs

It is typical for Maine Coons with hip dysplasia to show no signs of this serious health problem during the early stages. Your beloved Maine Coon may also not show signs when the condition is mild to moderate.

However, if you notice that your Maine Coon cat is experiencing any of these symptoms, the best you can do is seek medical intervention from a reputable veterinarian.

Unfortunately, hip dysplasia cannot be easily treated with drugs. In most cases, surgery might be needed to repair the deformations and precisely fit the femoral head into the hip joint.

The Maine Coons extra weight will also add pressure on the hips, therefore putting an affected Maine Coon on a weight management diet can potentially prevent further damage.

Your veterinarian can also recommend specific exercises as therapy along with proper massages to alleviate the pains. Some veterinarians will also prescribe NSAIDs, vitamin C, and glucosamine to treat hip dysplasia.

For more information on Hip Dysplasia, make sure you take a look at my article.

2. Stomatitis

Stomatitis is one of the most common Maine Coon problems that your beloved cat might develop.

It is characterized by painful mouth ulcers and inflammation of the affected Maine Coon’s gums and mouth.

In many cases, this limits your cat’s ability to chew food comfortably, ultimately stopping the feline from eating. While there are other things that can stop your Maine coon cat from eating, stomatitis is one of the primary causes.

Over time, stomatitis can cause serious Maine Coon stomach problems, majorly because your cat is unable to eat due to inflammation and soreness in its mouth.

If you suspect that your Maine Coon has stomatitis, here are the signs and symptoms to watch for:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Bad breath
  • Messy coat or fur
  • Yelping when eating
  • Dropping food
  • Unusual weight loss

Although not known to be fatal, stomatitis is a serious health problem that can cause Maine Coon stomach problems, exacerbating potentially deadly health complications.

Considering that stomatitis takes time to treat and can pair with other health problems to send your Maine Coon to an early grave, it is imperative to seek veterinarian intervention earliest possible (source 1).

3. Spinal Muscular Atrophy

Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) is a hereditary Maine Coon condition that can shorten the life of your Maine Coon cat.

Although the disease is not thought to be life-threatening or painful, it weakens the muscles of your cat.

SMA occurs when there is a loss of motor neurons in your Maine Coons lower spinal cord and muscle deteriorations in its hindlimbs. As such, it is characterized by:

  • Progressive Instability
  • Unsteady Gait
  • Posture Abnormalities

Although Maine Coons with this disorder will lead a normal, happy life, it is a good idea to ensure that you buy a Maine Coon kitten whose parents are free of this genetic defect. Your chosen breeder should produce evidence that the breeding cats were healthy.

4. Obesity

All Maine Coons cats are prone to obesity.

Although obesity doesn’t pose any serious threat to the life of your Maine Coon, it can potentially exacerbate other conditions, putting the life of your cat at threat.

Obesity can lead to Maine Coon heavy breathing, especially after exercise sessions, even when the exercise was not intensive.

You may also see your Maine Coon panting after strenuous exercise.

To ensure a healthier and happier life, make sure to feed your companion a healthy diet without overfeeding.

5. Polycystic Kidney Disease

Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) is a hereditary disease that affects cats born with cysts growing on their kidneys.

Over the cat’s lifespan, the cysts grow, supplanting the cat’s normal kidney tissue. Ultimately, this decreases the renal capacity, consequently causing Maine Coon urinary problems.

The bad news is that, unlike many other Maine Coon health problems, PKD is irreversible and may never be manifested until it causes sudden death.

Symptoms of PKD start showing up when the cat is around seven years old and include:

  • Torpidity
  • Frequent Urination
  • Vomiting
  • Loss Of Appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Increased Thirst
  • Weight Loss

Here’s my full guide to identifying Polycystic Kidney Disease in a Maine Coon cat.

Genetic Diseases In Maine Coon Cats

While Maine Coon cats are relatively healthy and hardy, they are vulnerable to certain genetic illnesses that can shorten their lives, cause pain, and sometimes decrease their mobility.

Whether you Maine Coon is pedigree or has a mixed heritage, it can be a carrier of certain genes that cause the inherited diseases listed below.

To ensure that you are buying a Maine Coon kitten free of genetic diseases, make sure to buy from a reputable Maine Coon breeder like these.

Your breeder should provide you with all pedigree paperwork and prove that the parents of your kitten are healthy.

The Maine Coon kitten you are buying should also have received the necessary vaccines at the time of purchase.

If you have just purchased a Maine Coon kitten for the first time and are wondering what diseases are Maine Coons prone to, here are genetic diseases you need to know.

Please keep in mind that if these feline health problems go unnoticed or untreated in their early stages, these genetic diseases can be Maine Coon causes of death.

1. Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)

This is a common Maine Coon heart disease that is usually inherited from the breeding parents.

It is characterized by thickening of the heart muscle, often caused by an overactive thyroid gland.

The disease is known to severely strike middle-aged and older Maine Coons, and has a high fatality rate.

You should never buy a Maine Coon that has not been screened for HCM.

2. Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is arguably the most common genetic disease in Maine Coon cats, with males being at a higher risk of inheriting it.

Although there is no science-backed proof, hip dysplasia tends to affect larger Maine Coons, and the severity increases with the cat’s size as bulkier cats put more stress on their ligaments and muscles.

As the name suggests, this condition causes malformation of the hip joints and subsequent arthritis.

3. Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA)

SMA is a condition that occurs when nerve cells in the lower spinal cord do not develop normally.

Unlike HCM, which strikes already mature Maine Coons, the symptoms of SMA can be evident when the affected kitten is 3-4 months old.

4. Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)

This is a Maine Coon kidney disease that causes little pimples to grow on the kidneys of the affected Maine Coons.

The cysts are already present during birth and, thus, the condition is irreversible.

To rule out PKD, veterinarians need to carry out Maine Coon genetic testing.

Maine Coon Sudden Death

There are various health issues known to cause tragic Maine Coon deaths.

In most cases, Maine Coons affected by hypertrophic cardiomyopathy are at risk of sudden cardiac death.

For Maine Coons with two copies of the disease-associated mutation, cardiac complications can send your beloved cat to an early grave, even at the age of 4 years or less.

The bad news is that HCM and other health problems that cause sudden deaths of Maine Coons are not curable.

While this makes it impossible to prevent Maine Coon sudden death altogether, some treatments help improve the overall health of your companion, potentially preventing sudden death.

Conclusion

What do Maine Coons die from?

Maine Coons are good at hiding their illnesses and barely hint at clinical symptoms of many diseases until the issue worsens.

This makes it difficult to spot Maine Coon health problems, consequently increasing the chances of Maine Coon sudden death should your cat be affected by a life-threatening issue. However, this doesn’t mean that you will not know when the cat is suffering from life-threatening diseases.

Hopefully, this post comprehensively answers what do Maine Coons die from and helps you understand problems that can increase Maine Coon life expectancy.

Remember, early intervention by a qualified veterinarian can make the difference between life and death.

Related Questions

1. Are Maine Coons Dangerous?

Maine Coons are not classed as dangerous animals. Despite being the largest domesticated cats in the world, they are gentle and pose very little physical danger to people.

2. Why Is My Maine Coon So Aggressive?

Maine Coons are not naturally aggressive. If your Maine Coon is aggressive, it probably feels threatened or stressed.

Maine Coon Central

Hello! My name is Katrina Stewardson, and I’m a self-confessed 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 9 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!

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