Cats With Down Syndrome – A 360 Degree Understanding

Cats With Down Syndrome
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Can Cats Have Down Syndrome?

Down syndrome mainly occurs due to the chromosomal abnormalities. Particularly, this condition is connected with a genetic condition called trisomies which are similar to Triple X syndrome or Edwards syndrome.

According to experts, cats only have 1 pair (sex chromosomes) and 18 somatic chromosomes. Totally, they have 19 x 2= 38 chromosomes. Therefore, it means cats are free from 21st chromosome trisomy.

Cats with Down syndrome symptoms

  • Cats who are prone to DS have round wide-set eyes instead of slanted closer set eyes.
  • Droopy, below par ears rather than usual alert-looking and pointy ears
  • Noses may appear button-like or upturned
  • Additionally, cats suffering from this disorder mostly have slightly asymmetric faces

Down syndrome cats – Behavioural defects 

  • Comparatively, they are more wobbly and clumsy
  • Lacks coordination and can bump or dash against objects quite frequently
  • Adopt improper sitting or meowing posture
  • When it comes to moving with new companions, DS cats behave more friendly than other domestic cats
  • Some cats lack solid muscle growth and normal vision

Popular Cats With Down Syndrome

Cats Diagnosed With Feline Down Syndrome (FDS):

Max and Monty were brought up by different cat lovers but were later diagnosed with something similar to Feline Down syndrome.

The Ginger Cat – Max

Glen, Max’s owner was upset over his pet’s condition and pondered over his inability to help Max. When Max, the cute ginger cat turned nine, he was affected by FDS, at times, he even walked right into objects such as glass window.


Dr Arthur Frauenfelder assessed Max and confirmed that he was indeed suffering from FDS. However, Dr Arthur’s report suggested that Max’s condition isn’t that much serious.

Overall, decreasing the additives and feeding him with enough vitamins served in the right proportions may boost the development.

The Beauty Cat – Monty

Raised by Danish partners Bjorn and Klein, Monty was quite different from the other pets. Moreover, Monty peed in his sleep.

In general, older cats may suffer from neuron loss which in turn may damage their peeing abilities. Monty is one of the much loved social media felines and has more than 3, 00,000 facebook followers.

Factors That Determine Down Syndrome In Cats

 1. Cats and humans differ in terms of biology

Humans have 23 pairs while cats only have 19 chromosome pairs.

Notably, humans with DS have an additional chromosome 21 and that’s not possible in case of felines.

The basic structure of a human is completely different from that of an animal.

2. Behavioral differences do not necessarily translate to having DS

Owners who have cats supposedly affected by Down syndrome complain regularly about l traits such as lethargy. On the other hand, cats suffering from odd behavior does not always indicate Down syndrome.

Dysfunctional behavior can also happen as a result of any other ailment forcing your cat to behave oddly.

3. A veterinary investigation will reveal the truth

Cats may have been the victim of improper diagnosis. The vets may or may not have considered the genetic history of the cat. By the same token, cats affected by DS usually has asymmetrical facial traits.

Cat owners may not be aware of a syndrome called ‘Klinefelter syndrome’. This condition can also cause physical changes. Therefore, vets should be more careful in declaring their final diagnosis.

4. Inbreeding can also cause defects

In general, when two animals having similar genetic makeup mate, then the offspring may suffer from defective genes. Correspondingly, the marriage between same family members increases the risk of contracting recessive diseases.

The risks of contracting genetic disorders are less than 50% when they mate outside their direct ancestry.

Specific Genetic Disorders That Are Similar To Down Syndrome

Cats normally suffer from a range of ancestral defects that are difficult to detect unless vets examine them in detail.

We have listed some of the genetic disorders often wrongly identified as Down syndrome

1. Feline Dysautonomia 

One of the lesser-known neurological disorder also called as Key-Gaskell syndrome, Feline dysautonomia is largely seen amongst cats. In this disorder, the nervous systems are either parasympathetic or sympathetic.

♦ How feline dysautonomia works?

The nerve cells in the cat automatically degenerate causing an autonomic nervous system failure. Also, Britain is the birthplace of this disorder because more cases are normally reported in this country.

♦ Symptoms of feline dysautonomia

  • Cats display very poor to low motor skills, much similar to those affected by Down syndrome.
  • They may fall incessantly and will fail to move in the right way.
  • Other possible signs include physical deformities, tear secretion problems, constipation, and diarrhea.
  • Overall, consult a certified vet to know more about this disorder.

2. Distal Polyneuropathy 

This condition mostly strikes Birman cats born out of the same Moreover, researchers attribute the cause of this disease to the presence of defective genes. As per medical reports, distal polyneuropathy occurs in cats as young as 2 to 2.5 months.

Most of the times, the owner may mistake this symptom as Feline Down syndrome. Especially, when the cat finds it difficult and wobbles to stand on its paws.

♦ How distal polyneuropathy works?

Felines affected with this disorder have sufficient blood levels. These cats are also susceptible to pelvic limb ataxia- mostly visible in cats and dogs. Finally, there are no known cures for this disorder and the only option is to perform a DNA test.

Breeders must remain alert before choosing a cat. Klinefelter syndrome- Vets have assured that this syndrome is mostly present amongst cats having tortoiseshell. In addition, tricolor cats are usually not affected by this disorder.

♦ How Klinefelter syndrome work?

These cats have XXY chromosomes. In particular, female cats and male cats have XX chromosomes and XY genes respectively. Similar to Down syndrome, they have additional chromosomes. Moreover, this additional chromosome results in XXY genes.

Male cats suffering from Klinefelter syndrome will find it difficult to procreate. Characterwise, Klinefelter syndrome cat owners can neuter or spay their pets.

3. Cerebellar Hypoplasia 

Another factor of cats with down syndrome other than physical and behavioral irregularities is cognitive problems. Mother cats having FPV or Feline Parvovirus are at a higher risk of producing kittens with cerebellar hypoplasia.

Additionally, cerebellar hypoplasia affects the cat’s balancing and walking abilities.

♦ How are cats affected by cerebellar hypoplasia?

Cerebellum refers to that section in the brain dealing with maneuvering and coordination fine motor skills. And, cerebellum hypoplasia cats walk like “drunkards”. They will have no control and end up dashing against objects.

♦ Caution

Cat owners must avoid administering Feline Parvovirus vaccines. Without consulting the vet, one should not postpone any major decisions. Another suitable option is spaying your cat.

Simple And Effective Tips To Care For Cats

As and when you learn that your cat is suffering from a condition like Feline Down Syndrome (FDV), please show your love and care.

In case, your vet has confirmed that your cat is affected by FDV or for any cats with down syndrome, then take a note of these cat care tips.

  • Diet management – Always feed your pet only with best quality cat foods and ensure that he has a comfortable way of living.
  • Never miss regular routine check-ups – Take him to an expert vet to check their regular parameters and for an official diagnosis.
    Not to mention, your vet will advise and prescribe suitable solutions and preparations to address your pet’s condition.
    A regular health check-up will not only help your cat but also make you feel safe about your pet’s health.
  • Be patient and never lose hope – If you ever come across your cats with down syndrome, maintain them in a proper, safe and secure environment.
    Never expose them to aggressive animals or electrical appliances. Also, keep harmful substances under lock and key.
  • Stay focused – Understanding that your pet suffers from Down syndrome is heart-wrenching but stop complaining.
    In addition, pet care centres are ready to deal with these cats.
    Without any doubt, the onus is completely on the owner to show the much-needed affection and care.
  • Consult your vet – Remember, there’s no harm in taking a second opinion in this case. On the other hand, some of the consultation episodes may need your pet to undergo tests and checkups.
    After a successful diagnosis, the consulted vet may suggest better medicines and behavioural training, particularly for potty training.
  • Research and keep reading – Never ever stop learning about cats. Collect and gather as many details as possible.
    Research and learn more about the simple and effective ways to cure feline ailments, their ancestry, and their body anatomy.

Furthermore, look up already diagnosed cases of FDV and check whether those descriptions resemble the signs shown by your pet.


Genetic Disorder And DNA Testing

Inherited genetic conditions amongst cats can be managed as long as the condition is not complicated. In one of a kind experiment, scientists achieved some success in controlling PKD (polycystic kidney disease) in Persian cats.

The success of this experiment was largely attributed to the presence of just one gene for correction. However, as on date, many cat breeders send their pets for DNA testing and prevent cats with errant genes and to confirm about cats with down syndrome.

Overall, DNA testing will help to discover any specific genetic issues that may cause Down syndrome.

What Is Down Syndrome (DS) In Humans?

DS or Down syndrome is a unique genetic disorder caused due to the presence of a full extra chromosome in a 21st pair. In other words, they are called “Trisomy twenty-one”.

Moreover, the indifference in chromosome number from the normal 23 pairs of chromosomes, enables people with DS to have abnormal physical traits, like large tongue, small chins, big outer ears, a short neck, and slanted eyes.

Abnormalities occur due to DS 

  • Improper or stunted growth and poor muscle tone
  • Mental impairment
  • The average DS person exhibit a low IQ of less than fifty
  • The anomaly changes from one person to another
  • Persons suffering from Down syndrome have a slow growth rate
  • Equally important, DS individuals are also prone to infertility issues, gastrointestinal problems, heart diseases, and impaired vision

The Bottomline

Taking all these things into perspective, so you really think cats can have down syndrome? To sum up, technically speaking, cats are free from down syndrome.

By all means, only further research can establish the real cause of possible Down syndrome in cats.

Tips - Cats With Down Syndrome

  • Yes, kittens with down syndrome require a specialized set of care other than normal cats.
  • The most common mistake people generally make – compare “Human Down Syndrome” and “Cat Down Syndrome.” Avoid comparison because both are different although they share the common name Down Syndrome.
  • At the very least, shower him with your unconditional love because only care and affection can help him recover fast.
  • More than that, feed him with more natural foods; a multi-vitamin diet.
  • Accept the reality that your cat is suffering from Down Syndrome. Never lose hope and continue your positive approach.

There are a countless number of unknown organisms roaming the earth that still requires proper documentation and study. In like manner, one reported discovery includes the occurrence of Down syndrome. Not to mention, cats with Down syndrome are making a huge splash on the social media and are eliciting a divided response from the public.

So, let’s dig further and find answers to many questions regarding cats with Down syndrome? Can cats really have Down syndrome?


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