Maine Coons have long legs because they are digitigrades, meaning they stand and walk on tiptoes. This means we include the length of each foot onto the length of their long legs. However, a Maine Coon’s legs are not disproportionately long: they are in balance with the rest of its skeleton.
Why Do Maine Coons Have Long Legs?
A Maine Coon cat’s long legs are designed for its lifestyle. They allow it to have the agility and range it needs to stalk, hunt, walk, run, leap, and climb.
The longer a Maine Coon’s legs are the faster it can run after prey or away from threats.
Their legs are also long because they are in proportion to their large bodies. You should notice that a larger Maine Coon has longer legs than a smaller one but the leg-to-body-size ratio is the same.
Why Don’t a Maine Coon’s Legs Always Look Long?
Although a Maine Coon’s legs are lengthy, it’s not always easy to see this: they very rarely fully straighten their legs.
When a cat moves it adopts a slight crouch with its legs bent at each joint. From this position, it’s always ready to stalk, pounce, or accelerate if necessary. For this reason, it’s not always obvious just how long a Maine Coon’s legs are.
Of course, the top of each Maine Coon leg is well-concealed by its long coat, another factor that disguises just how long they really are.
Maine Coon Leg Length Anatomy
A Maine Coons hindlegs are longer than its forelegs. this is because its back feet are a lot longer than its front feet. You can see this in the diagram below.
A Maine Coon’s forelegs are equivalent in structure to our arms. They have the same bones and joints. Like all cats, Maine Coons do have elbows where the ulna and radius meet the humerus.
Because a Maine Coon’s humerus is shorter and its radius and ulna are longer, each elbow is higher up the front limb than ours.
Maine Coons have knees just like us where the femur meets the tibia and fibular. They also have patellas. Their feet are much longer in comparison to their fibular and tibia than ours are which gives their hindlegs extra-long length.
As a Maine Coon walks on all four limbs it is known as a quadruped. In quadrupeds, knee joints are actually knowns as stifle joints.
Maine Coons use their long legs to walk very precisely with a four-beat gait, meaning each foot does not step on the same spot as any other.
A Maine Coon’s forelegs support around 60 percent of its body weight and are designed to catch this weight when the hind legs propel it forward.
Their less flexible hind legs move forward and backward. They are longer and more angular than the front legs, to assist in propelling them forward and up and over objects.
A Maine Coon’s tail is also vital to provide balance as it jumps and lands.
Unlike dogs, a cat walks or runs by moving the front and back legs on one side and then the front and back legs on the other side. The only other animals that walk with this pattern are camels and giraffes: they also have long legs.
How A Maine Coon’s Long Legs Are Related To Health Issues
Because of their long length, the angle between a Maine Coon’s knee and hip is steeper than in many smaller breeds. This contributes to their increased risk of orthopedic issues including hip dysplasia.
Keep an eye out for symptoms which include limping, avoidance of physical activity, obvious pain when the hips are touched, and continual licking or chewing of the hip area.
If you see any of these signs, your vet should carry out an examination and might recommend an x-ray of your Maine Coon’s hips to allow for a full diagnosis and the relevant treatment.
Hip dysplasia can be hereditary so always check a breeder has proof that their breeding cats have been hip scored. This greatly reduces the chances of their kittens developing hip problems as they grow.
Can Maine Coons Have Short Legs
Although it is possible for a genetic mutation to cause dwarfism in any cat breed, it rarely occurs in Maine Coons. Therefore it is extremely unlikely that you’ll come across a dwarf Maine Coon with short legs.
Purebred Maine Coons free of genetic mutations do not have short legs but if they are crossbred with a short-legged breed the resulting kittens could have short legs.
Cat breeds with short legs include:
- the munchkin
- the dwelf
- the genetta
- the minuet
- the minskin
- the bambino
Do Maine Coons Have Long Legs? Conclusion
Maine Coons have relatively long legs although their stance and long coats hide much of their length from view.
A Maine Coon’s legs are not over-long but are in proportion to its body. A tall Maine Coon will have longer legs than a shorter one.
Long legs help Maine Coons to run, leap and climb but can occasionally attribute to health issues.