My Three Maine Coon Cats

by Debbie
(Toronto Canada)

"my 3 sons" Quincy, Milo and Tritan

I am owned by three Maine Coon cats. They range in age from 8 years down to 5 years and having been a cat lover and owner all my life, have never received so much joy and love as I receive from these, "my boys". I do have a question for anyone who may be in the know. My middle Maine Coon, is 7 years old. He is the brown tabby in the picture. He fell ill with a sudden paralysis of his lower limbs - from stumbled gait to being unable to stand, walk or even sit up within 24 hours.

During this period, he had to carried from place to place, put into the litter box at regular intervals and so on. His mind was not affected at all. He was seen and treated by a veterinary neurologist and diagnosed with "lower limb paralysis" and treated with high doses of Prednisone. This happened in January of this year (2009), it is now almost the end of May and he is still on the Prednisone, but is being tapered off because the neuro felt this may be a "recurrent" type of condition. He is now quite mobile, does stairs and so on, but no longer can run or jump even low distances. He uses pet stairs to get up and down from my bed.

My regular vet had no idea what was happening with him when he first fell ill, and even the neuro was puzzled, both saying that they had never seen quite this thing in cats, only dogs (humour point, they both thought of "coon dog disease" I have never heard of it before since I never owned dogs).

My question...has anyone else seen this or had it happen to any of their cats? Does it recur? What was the outcome for your baby? I would love any feedback anyone can provide as we are still going through this at present and he is still being followed for recurrence.

Thanks for any help or comments.

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My Three Maine Coon Cats

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Jul 27, 2010 Dealing with same thing
by: Michelle

I came home from work yesterday to find my Maine Coon tabby with paralysis of her lower extremities as well. Left side is worse than right. Took her to vet. They are perplexed and also said they have not seen anything like this. We have started her on predisone, antibiotics and some pain meds because she does seem to have some discomfort. Their "shotgun" approach as they don't know what else to do.

I would be interested in knowing what the neurologist did to reach that diagnose.

Apr 27, 2010 reply to Ditto
by: Debbie

I can't reqlly add anything more to my original post. Quincy is still doing alright, still a bit slower but the high doses of prednisone did bring rapid improvement but I was very happy to get him weaned off of it as it does carry sometimes high risks for side effects which may not necessarily manifest for a while after treatment stops. If, and I can only hope it never does occur again, I would begin the prednisone immediately. I am still sure that all the tests (over $5,000 worth) done by the neuro specialist were only so much clutching at straws as no real answer was available to her. I hope your kitty shows some improvement soon. Has he/she been started on prednisone? How long has the condition being going on? Keep good thoughts. My Quincy is doing well and it has been for over a year. There are still problems with some continued deficits which cause chronic constipation but it is treatable and no longer presents any problems...just a lot of close watching.
Good luck. I can appreciate what you are going through...D

Apr 27, 2010 Ditto
by: Anonymous

Have about a 6 year old male same situation. About 3 years ago it started and he could not walk and then he started improving and we thought we were out of the woods. About a year and a half later same situation and once again we are getting better. Had a lot of things done at vets before I found this info. Anything you know to help please let us know,.

by: Anonymous

I am experiencing the same thing with my Maine Coon now. One morning we woke up and he had trouble walking and lifting himself onto his back legs. He also stopped jumping on things. We took him to the ER and told them we thought he was thrown off or fell of his large cat house by another cat. It has been 4 months now and it has only got worse. He just drags his back legs on the floor. He will walk for the essentials (food, potty, water) but funny like. He also always lays with his back legs frog like (out straight to the back). He doesn't run or play anymore but he is in good spirits. To me it seems like we have held back his treatment as we told the ER that he was thrown off a cat house. We assumed this! He was 13 months old when this happened and after reading about SMA we have a vet appt on Wed to get him tested or figure out what is wrong. Wish us all the best. He is just a baby and I'd hate to see him like this forever but they do have wheelchairs for cats now - let's hope he doesn't need it.

Aug 24, 2009 SMA
by: Dana

My cat has spinal muscular atrophy, and she is able to walk, but walks very low to the ground, and sometimes drags her back legs. We adopted her as a kitten, and she developed it when she was about 6 months old. How old is your kitty? Because they usually don't develope Spinal muscular atrophy, it usually happens when they are a kitten. I have done a lot of research on this disease, since my baby has it. Just wanted to comment, hope that helps a little.

May 23, 2009 Sudden Paralysis In Maine Coon Cat
by: Michael (PoC Admin)

Hi, thanks for the submission. My personal view (and I am not a vet but a concerned and fairly knowledgeable person) is that the sudden paralysis in your Maine Coon cat could be caused by one or both of two possible diseases:

Maine Coon Cat Health - Spinal muscular atrophy

The symptom of this disease is the death of the neurons in the spinal cord. The neurons control muscle function. Accordingly, if the muscles fail to work properly muscle weakness ensues resulting in a non normal gait and a less athletic cat (cats are usually very athletic). The cat's life is impaired but it is not fatal (it seems).

It is transmitted by an autosomal recessive gene. It has been transmitted widely in Maine Coon cats, apparently. Breeders can now test for this disease.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) a heart disease

This is an inherited disease. This means that the cat in question (not all cats in a breed) is programmed genetically to acquire the disease. HCM is late onset (adult onset - becoming noticed when the cat is an adult) meaning that it is not congential (symptoms present at birth). HCM is the most common heart disease reported in domestic cats. It is known to be present in the Maine Coon cat breed. About one third test positive apparently. The disease can cause a blood clot to form, which travels down the aorta and lodges at the end of the aorta cutting of blood to the rear legs paralyzing them. However, you report all four limbs paralyzed. That might be due to a blood clot stopping blood flowing to the spinal cord.

I think that the drug administered is just one that forces the body to repair itself more effectively. Hope this helps

You can read about diseases associated with the Maine Coon here: Maine Coon Cat Health. Some of the above came from the the linked page.


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