A Which? survey found that in the UK, health insurance for Maine Coon cats costs £114 and for Bengal cats the cost is £105 annually. There is then a big reduction for random bred cats of all types at around £85. The health insurance for the British Shorthair costs the same as for random bred cats at £85. Incidentally, the French Bulldog is the most expensive at £358 and the Golden Retriever at £187. All the dogs were more expensive than the cats. In the US dogs are taken to the vets more than cats. Are they less healthy?
The question is whether these figures represent the health of these three cat breeds. If they do the figures tell us that the Maine Coon is taken to a veterinarian more often than the Bengal cat and that the random bred cat is healthier than both the Maine Coon and the Bengal but no healthier than the British Shorthair.
My suspicion is that the Maine Coon is taken to a veterinarian for lameness due to the presence of a condition called patellar luxation and hip dysplasia. The latter condition is found occasionally in Maine Coon cats apparently causing gait abnormalities and intermittent lameness with a reluctance to jump. Some Maine Coon cats develop a severe degenerative joint disease. This problem may arise later in life and surgery may be required. Perhaps the surgery is the cause of the higher than normal veterinary costs leading to the higher insurance premiums.
Regarding Bengal cats, my research carried out several years ago indicates that if there is one specific disease which affects this cat breed it is heart disease. There is also a condition called “Bengal Nose“. The nose leather becomes crusty and, as I understand it, it is very difficult to cure the problem. You will find various suggestions on the Internet from cat breeders and owners but the last time I checked people were grasping for solutions indicating an underlying inherited health issue.
It appears that it is generally accepted that the Bengal can suffer from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). This may be the cause of the increased insurance premiums. The Bengal cat appears to suffer from other less serious inherited health conditions such as cataracts and entropion.
The condition called Bengal Nose which I referred to above is a troubling one. My assessment at the time was that it is caused by an immune-related inherited health condition.
Random bred cats are generally accepted as being slightly more healthy than purebred cats and therefore it is no surprise that health insurance premiums are substantially lower at around three quarters of the cost of insuring the Maine Coon. The obvious reason why random cats are healthier is because they are random bred as opposed to inbred.
The surprise is the British Shorthair. My previous research on the health of the British shorthair is that it is generally good. They may be prone to becoming overweight. Further, this cat breed may suffer from higher than average incidence of gingivitis. HCM also is on the radar for this cat breed but I don’t know how prevalent it is. I suspect that it is less prevalent in this breed then in the Bengal. Clearly this breed is healthier in terms of inherited diseases than either the Maine Coon or the Bengal.
It is interesting to note that Which? appear not to have referred to the other cat breeds of which there are 104 on my reckoning. If they have been deliberately omitted then their insurance premiums would be no higher than those for random bred cats. That would also surprise me because Persians are known to have inherited health issues, particularly, polycystic kidney disease which are the last time of checking affected over 37% of Persians (this research may refer to cats in the USA by the way).