Health Concerns In The Maine Coon Cat
At Hollishill Maine Coon Cats, we place health as our top priority when raising and breeding Maine Coon Cats. The first step in prioritizing good health is knowledge of the most common diseases known to exist in the Maine Coon Cat gene pool and methods of prevention. Breeders of the Maine Coon Cat are constantly sharing information about health problems they may have experienced and both new and old methods for cure and prevention.
Despite our best efforts, it is not always possible to prevent genetic defects or hereditary diseases or viral infections in our Maine Coon Cats. The quest for the perfect combination of genes is our goal for ensuring good health but it is also an ongoing process. This is important for potential owners to know when dealing with any breeder of the Maine Coon Cat. We have outlined the most common diseases, viruses and defects in the Maine Coon Cat for your careful review. It is not possible to vaccinate to prevent occurrence of these conditions.
Please read the information and links carefully before you acquire a Maine Coon Cat from Hollishill or any other breeder of the Maine Coon Cat.
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)
HCM is the most common cause of sudden death in Maine Coon Cats as well as other feline regardless of breed or age. HCM is hereditary and can be detected by performing an ultrasound or echo cardiogram of the heart. If detected early and treated with medication, a cat with HCM can survive, but will likely have a shorter than expected life span.
At Hollishill Maine Coon Cats we do not breed any cat that has tested positive for HCM or any other heart condition which would also be detected by ultrasound. We screen our breeding stock every year until they are retired from breeding. Screening does not prevent HCM but gives us a means of preventing more incidents of the disease in the gene pool.
Since it is impossible to predict which cat and at what age HCM may appear, it is possible to continue to breed HCM into the gene pool. A breeding cat that tested clear until age six would have already produced a number of kittens that may or may not have developed HCM in their lifetime. We guarantee cats we have placed who have perished due to HCM and we inform our kitten clients by choice of the discovery of HCM in our breeding stock. There is now a DNA test available as a result of a study that has isolated one gene mutation that carries HCM in the Maine Coon Cat specifically.
We will be testing our breeding cats for this gene mutation and will inform our kitten clients accordingly. This is only one of what could be several gene mutations that exist in the Maine Coon Cat (in humans there are 12 gene mutations that carry HCM). The discovery of this gene helps us get one step further in preventing the existence of HCM in the Maine Coon cat. Click this link for further information about cardiomyopathy and follow the links below for more research. DNA testing for HCM gene in Maine Coons. Link to Dr. Kittleson and Dr. Meurs work on the MyBPC3 mutation.
Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)
FIP is a deadly viral infection that every breeder fears. FIP is not exclusive to the Maine Coon Cat but can be passed from feline to feline. FIP is the name for a sickness that develops from a corona virus that many cats carry and/or could come in contact with. The problem with FIP is that cats that carry the corona virus that causes FIP may never become sick with FIP. FIP is most dangerous to kittens and young cats up to 17 months old.
There is no testing available for FIP except for postmortem. FIP is frequently misdiagnosed and creates fear and controversy among breeders because susceptibility to becoming sick with FIP is largely hereditary and often is fatal to only one kitten in a litter. Breeders who trade cats with other breeders often blame one another for the sudden existence of FIP in their catteries when it is possible that their own cats were carriers of the corona virus that causes FIP but never became sick. Unfortunately, the most common forum for the spreading of the corona virus that causes FIP is in catteries and shelters. This means that breeders have to be diligent about cleanliness and the management of cats in small groups to prevent corona virus exposure throughout their catteries.
The most common method of spreading the corona virus is from nose or mouth to fecal matter. At Hollishill Maine Coon Cats, our cats rarely share litter boxes and we scoop our litter boxes daily and change and disinfect them weekly. We also disinfect our entire cattery bi-weekly and before any new cats come into our cattery. Our cattery has a powerful air circulation system that we run daily to clear out stale air and bring in fresh air.
Our methods of prevention do not mean that we will never have FIP at Hollishill Maine Coon Cats. We can only guarantee that we have no knowledge of FIP being present in our cattery at the time you get a kitten from us. If we do discover that FIP is a problem here at Hollishill, we will discontinue placement of kittens until we can identify the carrier(s) of the corona virus that exist in our breeding program.
Note: We do not use, nor recommend, the vaccine for FIP as it has not been proven effective and has reportedly increased the risk of cats contracting the virus. Our guarantee does not cover kittens or cats that have received this vaccine.
Read these links for more info on FIP...
Entropian is a hereditary condition of the eye in cats and dogs, where the eyelid is inverted and causes the eyelashes to grow into the eye creating constant redness and irritation. Surgery is usually needed to correct Entropian. Luckily for breeders, it seems that Entropian is consistently passed from one generation to the next which alerts breeders to the condition being present in their gene pool.
Entropian is not a fatal condition but the surgery to correct it can be costly. It is a condition that infrequently effects all of the offspring from the parent that carries the Entropian gene. Entropian may not show up at all in some litters. The best way for us to detect Entropian in our gene pool is by first hand knowledge, if the condition exists in one of our breeding cats. We also rely on communication with people who have acquired our cats and have reported the condition.
If we encounter the Entropian gene in our breeding stock we will retire that cat from breeding. If we have placed kittens that may be at risk for Entropian we will inform the new owners. These preventative steps do not guarantee that Entropian will not appear in one of our cats, but we are more confident about detection of Entropian than we are other hereditary diseases or conditions. We do not guarantee cats we have placed who develop Entropian simply because it is not fatal and is a curable condition.