I’ve just solved a problem with my Maine Coon. For a while now she was getting underweight and not putting on any.
I was getting worried.
Things came to a head when I stroked her back a few weeks ago and could feel every bone along her spine.
That’s it. No more excuses. Time for a trip to the vet.
To cut a long story short, the underweight problem was caused by …..
My Maine Coon has an allergy to chicken. She could eat little bits without problem but it was upsetting her caloric intake. Her liver was slightly enlarged and meat based protein was causing her to lose weight. Switching to a fish based diet has reversed the weight loss.
You will be pleased to know the problem is now resolved, and she is returning to a healthier weight.
I’m feeling kind of mixed about it. I’m really glad the problem seems to have been solved but anxious at the thoughts of the past and what was happening to her.
It got me thinking.
How common a problem is this?
So I offer this story by way of what happened to me, rather than a replacement diagnosis from a professional veterinarian.
Alita has always been on the small side for a Maine Coon.
Knowing what I know now, I wonder about the past and whether chicken in her diet contributed to the size she is.
She’s still a Maine Coon, so bigger than other breeds but she is on the low end of sizes and weights for a female.
She must be one of the smallest Maine Coons out there.
Her personality and temperament though are perfect. Very Maine Coon ish.
I’m now reflecting on the past wondering whether I was feeding her too much chicken. Not being a big cat it took me a while but I gradually realized even though she wasn’t big she didn’t seem to be putting on any weight if I fed her a good quantity of food.
It started with mild concern but grew over the months.
One day I just stroked her back and my fingers bumped along her spine. That can’t be right.
I decided to book a trip to the vet the very next day.
The first thing that happened was a recording of Alita’s weight.
She weighed a paltry 3kg.
My heart sank. That is a low weight for a Maine Coon.
It confirmed my fears.
Alita was taken in to see the vet who went through the process of trying to figure out what was wrong.
There is always the possibility she has worms or some form of parasite.
After agreeing she was underweight, he took blood samples, scans, and asked questions.
What he found sounded quite alarming. Alita had an enlarged liver.
The vet prescribed about 3 pills, which had to be taken twice a day, and a liquid to be syringed into the mouth once a day only.
That sounds a nightmare, but luckily Maine Coons are really good at taking pills.
The vet also recommended a very specific brand of food. He wanted to try a diet change.
With Alita, and all the medicine we left, with a new appointment booked for 2 weeks away.
Back at the home, Alita went straight onto her new food, which was Tuna and brown rice.
A routine developed with some pills in the mid morning, and then again early evening.
Although she didn’t like taking pills, the good thing about Maine Coons is that they bond and trust their owners.
As soon as you put the pill in the mouth, Alita was really good. Despite not liking the experience the claws never came out once.
Maine Coons don’t like harming their owners it seems.
Feeding was also pretty straight forward. Some dry food of tuna and brown rice is always available for consumption and a few pouches of wet food high in protein.
Usually mackerel in jelly or tuna in jelly. Occasionally there was a chicken (we didn’t yet know) and tuna mix.
The change was pretty quick.
Within a week she added around 0.2kg in weight. Stroking her you could feel the muscles coming back along her spine.
This was a tremendous relief.
I silently started to get hopeful.
We followed the diet advice from the vet and continued to give her the pills.
It was obvious she was putting on weight, and at this rate would be a normal weight for a Maine Coon.
Relief was sweeping through me.
The day before the second vet visit, which in hindsight now makes a lot more sense, an incident happened by accident.
Here in Thailand you can easily buy street food cooked freshly in front of you.
I occasionally pick something up from these stalls and even buy a little extra for Alita.
They often cook chicken, chicken liver, pork, or other meat.
On this occasion I bought a very little bit of chicken liver. I fed her a little bit of this cooked liver.
It clearly didn’t go down well. Alita became very docile later and looked like she had an upset stomach.
I threw the rest away, thinking that it had something on it that didn’t sit well in her stomach.
That night Alita raided the bin.
I woke up in the morning with her looking very ill. She vomited copiously during the morning.
She was wretching early into the afternoon and wasn’t eating at all.
A small amount of chicken was on the floor. She had clearly been into the bin, tipped it over and taken the food away during the night.
Although sheepish, she was a little better mid afternoon as I took her to the vet at this point.
The first thing we did upon entering the vet’s was to have Alita weighed.
She now weighed 3.4kg, so had put on around 400g over 2 weeks at least.
This was a huge relief, and the vet concluded that it was a good sign. He was really pleased with her turnaround.
He asked some more questions during which I talked about the recent chicken incident.
Then he hit me with the problem, and I couldn’t have been more shellshocked.
“I think Alita is allergic to chicken and chicken proteins“
Her heart and liver were now fine with a good body temperature. She was progressing well.
The diet he’d put her on was fish proteins based, and he thought this was why she had put on weight.
The chicken liver incident now made complete sense.
Although Alita was allergic to chicken, that includes turkey and duck as foods.
As a side note he didn’t know about pork or beef, but recommended only small amounts of this at the start rather than entire meals.
We left the vet with another appointment for 4 weeks away.
In 4 weeks time she is going for blood tests so that the vet can be confident that her problem has been diagnosed correctly and that the solution we are currently implementing is working.
As I write this Alita is on a 4 week fish based protein diet with no chicken, turkey or duck. I’m not taking any risks and won’t try any pork or beef.
I’m so relieved to have found the problem so that I can take the course of action that helps her and gets her back to a normal weight.
So, if you have a Maine Coon that is slightly underweight, it could potentially be a similar problem.
In no way do I want this to be taken as veterinary advice, but why not take a look at your Maine Coons diet, and see if the protein source is from a subset of a certain animal.
Whether you normally feed them turkey, duck, or fish, try isolating the protein source, and switch to another.
It’s interesting to note that despite the fact that Alita is allergic to chicken she actually loves the stuff.
Anytime I gave her a piece of chicken she would devour it. She loves the taste.
It’s just that the chicken does not agree with her. So this is a warning, that the fact that your Maine Coon likes the food, doesn’t mean they aren’t allergic to it.
I will post an update here in a few weeks to let anyone know about the progress.
Maine Coon 101 | Read This Before Getting One