Maine Coon cats are the largest domestic cat breed in the world – their robust bone structure, luxurious, double-layered coat, and distinctive chest ruff make them appear like a mini lion! But like all cats, they are prone to health issues that can affect their lifespan.
Maine Coons have an average life expectancy of 12.5 years but is known to live much longer with excellent diet and weight management. Hereditary diseases can shorten their lifespan, though quality breeding and regular health examinations can lessen this risk.
These gentle giants are a strong and hardy breed, but they can have a much greater health outcome with owners who are prepared to take control of their diet and exercise regimen as they mature. Let’s look at things that affect a Maine Coon’s lifespan, common health issues, and more.
Several Factors Affecting a Maine Coon Cat’s Lifespan
Maine Coon kittens grow at an alarmingly fast rate, putting on 2lbs a month (this is almost double the rate of most growing cats!). And because they are such a naturally big breed, owners can make the dangerous assumption that they require substantially more food than regular house cats.
This leads to the consumption of more treats and a diet higher in fat than they require, which inevitably leads to obesity and joint issues down the line.
Lack of Exercise
Maine Coons have a tendency to be fairly lazy and will love nothing more than sleeping and resting for most of the day if you let them. Without sufficient daily movement, they will become bored and eventually too depressed to engage in most physical activities.
Additionally, the extra weight will begin to put a strain on their bones and joints, leading to serious health issues.
Maine Coon’s are a very sought-after breed and to earn higher profits from the sale of a Maine Coon kitten, less trustworthy cat breeders on the market may save money by refusing to test them for genetic diseases or skipping their all-important vaccinations, leaving them vulnerable to many life-shortening diseases.
Beware of any breeders that claim to have an “HCM-free” line of cats – this stands for ‘Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy’, a heart disease which Maine Coons are prone to developing and no one can guarantee a completely HCM-free cat.
Unfortunately, Maine Coons are genetically predisposed to hereditary diseases that can cause joint pain and mobility issues which can go on to shorten their lifespan if untreated.
While this is largely out of an owner’s control, the best course of action can be to get them DNA tested from a young age either by a vet or with a home testing kit. Some can screen for HCM, which affects 30% of all Maine Coon cats.
How to Extend a Maine Coon’s Lifespan?
Attend Regular Vet Check-ups
Taking them for routine health checks at the vets from kittens through to old age can ensure any health risks are detected early, giving them a greater chance for a long, healthy life.
If they are falling outside their recommended weight, for example, or are refusing food, regular vet examinations can help determine the next steps to take to prevent incorrectly overfeeding.
Ensure They Stay Active
Ideally, your Maine Coon should be getting at least 20 to 30 minutes of exercise every day, but more is recommended. This can be achieved with indoor play with things like laser pointers, climbing towers/trees, and interactive toys to encourage movement.
In addition to regular indoor play and movement, try training them to walk on a leash outdoors – this not only helps them burn off more calories but exploring their outside environment keeps them mentally stimulated and happier!
Consult a Specialist About Their Diet
Maine Coons require a specialised diet of fat-free and high-protein food, preferably in dry food form. High-quality dry food formulas are best as these tend to be packed with nutrients and low on filler ingredients that offer poor nutritional value.
Consult your local vet early on about the best diet plan for your cat to ensure they are getting just the amount they need from 4-6 months up to their adult years and beyond.
Maintain Their Dental Health
Though a seemingly small part of their overall health, poor tooth and gum health caused by tartar and gingivitis can affect their appetite and chewing ability over time, which then affects their digestion.
Checking their teeth at home and the vets can help them maintain good oral health. Dry over wet food is best as it reduces the build-up of plaque and dental chew toys are also a good way to help them ‘clean’ their teeth naturally whilst providing fresher breath.
Keep Them at a Healthy Weight
On average, adult Maine Coons (3-5 years and beyond) should stick to a healthy weight of around 15-25 lbs for males and 8-12 lbs for females.
To ensure they keep to this weight range, it can be helpful to create a growth chart for your Maine Coon and measure them regularly. This helps you keep track of any growth spurts or weight fluctuations so you can make diet and exercise changes as needed to prevent the onset of obesity.
What Health Problems Do Maine Coon Cats Have?
Consulting your Maine Coon breeder about their inherited hip, spine, or heart health can help a vet screen for and treat potential problems early. Here are 3 common health issues in Maine Coons:
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy – this disease causes a thickening of the heart’s wall, decreasing its efficiency overtime. Symptoms include appetite loss, lethargy, breathing difficulties, and intolerance for exercise.
Spinal Muscular atrophy – this non-painful condition causes a loss of motor neurons in the lower spinal cord and hind limbs to degenerate. Symptoms include swaying and difficulty jumping (in kittens), muscle tremors, and general instability.
Hip Dysplasia – this hip socket defect can range from mild to severely painful, resulting in lameness and Maine Coons are more susceptible to it due to their large frame. Symptoms include limping, difficulty walking, chewing/licking the hip area, and avoidance of physical activity.
What is the Longest Living Maine Coon?
‘Rubble’ the Maine Coon from Exeter lived to 31 years old before passing in 2020 – this equated to 150 years in human terms! Her 52-year-old owner Michele Heritage put Rubble’s long life down to “being pampered like a child”.
How Long Does a Maine Coon Mix Live?
Due to a phenomenon known as ‘hybrid vigor’ most mixed cat breeds, including Maine Coon mixes live longer than their pure-bred counterparts. This is due to their combined genes creating a stronger genetic pool.
Using the Norwegian Forest cat and Maine Coon as an example, their combined lifespan range of 12-20 years and 11-19 years would result in a mix living to be around 13-14 years old.
Cat Breeds With the Longest Lifespan
This fluffy, round-faced breed has a lifespan of around 10 to 17 years. Traditional Persian cats tend to be a tad healthier and live longer than newer versions of the breed since selective breeding has favored Persians with a shorter muzzle, which has been the cause of breathing difficulties.
Siamese cats have a lifespan of roughly 12 to 20 years and some are known to live as long as 30 years old! This graceful blue-eyed breed is highly intelligent which makes them easy to train in terms of learning tricks and staying active. It’s also naturally very playful and loves to be on the move.
This beautiful breed with its grayish-blue double-layered coat can live to be around 18 to 25 years with great care. This is thought to be down to their love for roaming and hunting outdoors, as well as their love of indoor play and fetch. Russian Blues love to stay active even in old age.
Similar in looks and strength to Maine Coons, the Norwegian Forest cat breed has a life expectancy between 12 and 20 years. A strong bone structure and muscular build make them adept at climbing and exploring their surroundings. They can also be quite animated during indoor play.
This bold and dog-like breed enjoys an average lifespan of around 12 to 20 years. Savannahs are fiercely active and can be unpredictable – making them better suited to experienced owners. They can also jump to an incredible height of up to 8 feet, so they a certainly on the wilder side!
The cuddly, friendly Ragdoll breed can live to be around 15 to 25 years old. As laid-back as they might appear, these cats are known to have dog-like tendencies when it comes to muscular strength and love of physical activity. They regularly follow owners around and love playing with large families.
The affectionate and highly intelligent Japanese Bobtail cat can live to be around 15 to 18 years old. This breed loves to climb, chase toys and play fetch with their owners and much like a dog, will learn to recognize and respond to its name – spending much of the day on their feet exploring.
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