Every time we hear the term ‘Down syndrome’, we usually associate this condition with human beings particularly with children.
Thus you would never think about cats with down syndrome. But little did we know that this genetic disorder can also manifest itself in animals, including dogs.
And our favorite feline friends are no exemption to this condition. You’ve probably heard about cats with Down syndrome. But how is it true?
There are about 100,000 diseases known to man at the moment. And the number is likely to increase in the future.
Out of this figure, approximately 6,000 of them are variations of genetic disorder. One of which is Down syndrome.
It happens around 1 in every 700 pregnancies and individuals with this disorder have higher risk of developing other diseases such as epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease.
These features include slanted eyes, flat nasal bridge, short neck and stature, small chin, protruding tongue and abnormal outer ears.
These are the same characteristics that have been manifested by some animals which some people believe can be deemed as Down syndrome.
Though this claim still requires further clinical investigation and validation, some cat owners are looking into the possibility that their pets may have this syndrome.
Furthermore, photos and videos of cats with Down syndrome have circulated on the internet.
The characteristics of cats with down syndrome are apparent on these kitties. But the public is still unsure whether to give credence to cats with Down syndrome or not.
One thing is for sure, there are around 100,000 diseases in humans and there are probably those that are not yet discovered. Furthermore, there might be new ones that will arise in the future.
Human disease is an infinite universe that is impossible to delimit. If human beings can’t define the complexity of their own diseases, what more can they do for the members of the animal kingdom.
Every species is unique on their own. Cats, for example, have distinctive traits and behaviors that you can’t see in other animals.
Feline genetic and physical structures are also quite distinct. In one way or another, these adorable animals can really surprise us by showing new sides of them that we haven’t seen before.
So when a certain cat doesn’t look or behave like a normal cat, the owner could either find it charming or alarming.
Some cats with Down syndrome have won the hearts of pet lovers all over the world due to their unique physical features. But what does it entail to take good care of a cat with Down syndrome?
Whether the claim of cats with down syndrome is legit or not, let’s just momentarily deem that these are ‘special’ cats.
Despite the lack of scientific confirmation, some people believe that Down syndrome can also happen to cats and other animals.
For these people, Down syndrome is the only possible explanation for their cat’s strange behavior and unusual appearance.
As long as behavior and physical appearance are concerned, it is only reasonable to associate this condition to cats with down syndrome. In addition, dogs also may reportedly be experiencing the condition of down syndrome "Can A Dog Have Down Syndrome?"
However, some experts are not convinced with these physical evidences alone. This is because there are more to it than appearance and behaviors. First, let’s try to investigate this genetic disorder in humans.
Down syndrome is a genetic disorder usually caused by an error in cell division, otherwise known as nondisjunction.
Normally, each human cell contains 23 pairs of chromosomes for a total of 46. In Down syndrome, there’s an extra copy of chromosome 21 before or at conception.
The extra chromosome can adversely affect the intellect, physical features and overall development of an individual.
Aside from their stunted appearance, individuals with Down syndrome also manifest impaired mental ability.
Average adults who have this condition generally have mental ability equivalent to an 8 or 9-year old child.
This is because they develop slower than their normal counterparts although the anomaly can vary from person to person.
The root cause of this disorder is still unknown. However, there’s a correlation between the mother’s age and the risk of her child acquiring this syndrome.
Studies show that mothers by the age of 35 years and above have the highest risk of conceiving a child with Down syndrome.
The most common type of Down syndrome is nondisjunction that occurs when there are 3 copies of chromosome 21 instead of 2.
However, there are also cases when Down syndrome is caused by other factors. Here are the 3 types of Down syndrome with their own different presentations:
Around 95% cases of Down syndrome are attributed to nondisjunction, sometimes referred to as ‘trisomy 21’.
As explained earlier, an error in cell division process results to an embryo where each cell has an extra copy of chromosome 21.
In this case, there are also 3 copies of chromosome 21 just like the trisomy 21. However, the extra chromosome 21 attaches itself to another chromosome instead of being separate.
The extra 21 may be attached to the 13th chromosome or other numbers like 14, 15 or 22.
Individuals with translocation syndrome manifest the same symptoms of those with nondisjunction syndrome.
This is a very rare condition that occurs in around 1% of all Down syndrome cases.
In nondisjunction and translocation, all the cells contain an extra copy of chromosome 21. In mosaic syndrome, not all of the cells have this anomaly.
Some cells normally contain 23 pairs of chromosomes but there are other cells that contain extra chromosome 21.
In other words, individuals with mosaic syndrome have a mixture of normal cells and anomalous cells.
Clinically, they have the same features and health problems seen in individuals with trisomy 21 or translocation syndrome.
Apparently, Down syndrome is a uniquely human genetic disorder. But is it possible that any other creatures besides humans be affected, too?
Is there any other interpretation to the characteristics that are almost similar to those who have this condition?
Cats with wide-set and slightly slanted eyes, stunted ears that appear droopy, and upturned nose have physical features that are quite different from typical cats.
In addition to that, these ‘special’ kitties also demonstrate abnormal behaviors that are not common to their species.
Felines are known to be agile creatures but cats with Down syndrome are clumsy and tend to be wobbly when they move.
They frequently bump and fall due to bad coordination, which is very uncommon to nimble cats. And the way they meow or sit is pretty different compared to other cats.
One of the most surprising traits of individuals with Down syndrome is that they are too friendly and affectionate even with strangers.
While most cats shy away from total strangers, cats with Down syndrome don’t mind being petted by new companions.
But like children with Down syndrome, kitties having the same condition also seem not to respond when being called.
Obviously, the similarity of the characteristics and behavior of human Down syndrome to these special cats is very apparent.
But experts have presented the following facts that may explain that these symptoms can be attributed to other conditions besides Down syndrome. Let us review the facts.
Down syndrome occurs when there’s an extra chromosome 21 as a result of an error in the process of cell division.
Cats cannot possibly develop this disorder because they only have 19 pairs of chromosomes. In other words, felines do not have chromosome 21 to begin with.
Additionally, the structure of feline chromosome is entirely different from that of a human being.
So, a cat manifesting ‘Down syndrome-like’ characteristics doesn’t basically means it has it.
Because if we’re going to base it on a cellular level, it is impossible for cats to suffer from trisomy 21.
People are firm to believe that cats have similar behaviors. But this may not be entirely true.
Just like us, cats are also unique on their own ways. It doesn’t automatically means that while most cats are agile and active, your pet also need to be like that.
Behaving differently doesn’t always equate to behaving abnormally. We don’t usually consider clumsy people as abnormal, right?
In fact, there are people who are susceptible to bumps and falls because they have inferior balance and coordination. And these are just normal instances.
The same is true with our feline companions. Your pet may just be naturally clumsy and less agile than most cats.
Poor balance and coordination may also be symptoms of another disease, but not necessarily a genetic disorder.
It could be a result of a physical injury or a sign of a potential neuromuscular problem.
Cat breeders have been into inbreeding for so long, that is mating closely related cats as a way to promote their lineage.
However, pedigree kitties may suffer from life-threatening diseases and deformities caused by inbreeding.
Cats bred with certain physical characteristics are at higher risk of developing genetic defects and other severe health implications.
The benefits of inbreeding include elimination of unwanted traits through selective breeding. This can lead to congenital abnormalities and kittens may not grow to their potential.
Physical deformities associated with overbreeding may include abnormal eye set, misaligned jaws, and crooked nose.
The facial abnormalities are closely similar to the facial features of cats with Down syndrome. But you should be able to distinguish the real cause of these abnormalities.
Misdiagnosis is also one of the main reasons why cat owners immediately associate their pet’s symptoms to Down syndrome.
Until the claim can be validated, public opinion will still be divided regarding cats with Down syndrome.
It’s only plausible for pet owners to make generalizations based on irregular facial features and behavioral deviations.
But as a responsible parent, we should not make hasty conclusion based on what our eyes can see.
There are other feline genetic disorders that can also cause physical deformity. Because most of us don’t have any knowledge about these disorders, we are quick to conclude that it’s Down syndrome.
If you bring your pet to a veterinarian, you’re likely to find out the real cause of its unusual behavioral patterns and facial defects.
Furthermore, these feline genetic disorders cannot be easily detected unless thoroughly examined in a vet clinic.
In most cases, pet owners end up misdiagnosing their pets for Down syndrome where in fact it’s not.
The following are the genetic disorders that are common to felines that are often mistaken as Down syndrome:
This genetic disorder occurs when parts of the cerebellum are not completely developed.
The cerebellum is part of the normal feline brain, taking up a large portion of the brain’s matter. It lies under the cerebrum and toward the back.
Cerebellar hypoplasia is caused by a genetic factor that usually occurs when the mother acquires feline parvovirus (FPV) before or during cat-birth.
However, it could also be caused by extrinsic factors such as nutritional deficiencies and infections.
Although it’s not contagious or progressive, this neurological condition adversely affects a cat’s moving and balancing abilities.
Due to underdeveloped cerebellum, a kitten with this condition doesn’t have the ability to coordinate and maneuver its motor skills.
As a result, these kittens walk like drunk sailors with their heads bobbing and limbs constantly trembling.
Even if they can see their surroundings, they are unable to judge distance and usually end up bumping into things.
Symptoms of cerebellar hypoplasia are visible when kittens begin to walk, approximately 6 weeks of age.
Severity of symptoms varies from kitten to kitten depending on the degree of cognitive impairment.
No matter how severe the symptoms are, it is highly recommended to take your pet to the vet upon the earliest sign.
More importantly, don’t immediately conclude that your pet has Down syndrome.
While it’s true that poor motor skills is one symptom of Down syndrome, you need to refrain from finalizing the diagnosis right away.
For all you know, your pet may be suffering from cerebellar hypoplasia and not Down syndrome.
You can avoid cerebellar hypoplasia from inflicting your kitties by not administering FPV vaccines to pregnant cats.
Doing so may increase the risk that they may give birth to kittens with this genetic disorder.
Also known as the male calico cat syndrome, this genetic disorder occurs when male cats have an extra X chromosome in their cells.
For most animals, including us, the X and Y chromosomes indicate gender. The presence of two X chromosomes determine a female while one X and one Y determine a male.
Typically, male cats have XY chromosomes while females normally have XX genes. Cats with Klinefelter syndrome have XXY chromosomes due to the extra copy of X chromosome.
The cause sounds like a Down syndrome to a certain degree. But their symptoms are significantly different.
Klinefelter syndrome is mostly prevalent in male calico cats or those with patches of orange and black on their coats. Although this case rarely happens, it does occur in some cats once in a while.
Aside from their unusual patches, cats with this condition do not have deformed appearances. They also don’t demonstrate poor motor skills. Kitties with this condition seem to be perfectly normal.
There are, however, behavioral signs associated with this disorder. Klinefelter-afflicted male cats usually show feminine traits that it makes them appear to be undergoing an identity crisis.
This behavior have confused many onlookers because they can’t distinguish if that certain kitty is a male or female.
Unfortunately, the extra X chromosome interferes with the production of viable sperm, making them impotent and unable to reproduce.
Veterinarians often recommend neutering or spaying cats with this condition to reduce some of their disagreeable traits.
Distal polyneuropathy is a disease of the peripheral nerves that are mostly prevalent in Birman cats.
This condition can be inherited from the parents and can be manifested around 8 – 10 weeks of age.
Much like cats with Down syndrome, clinical signs of distal polyneuropathy include muscle tremors, head tilt, seizures and idleness.
Feline polyneuropathy is also diagnosed with pelvic limb ataxia. This is a condition when there is incoordination within the nervous system, making them unstable on their feet.
The uncoordinated motor activity of the limbs makes them lose their balance when they start to move. Usually, they walk like they are suffering from arthritis.
Sad to say, distal polyneuropathy is incurable and it will require hospital care that includes specific therapies.
And the only way to avoid having a cat with this genetic disorder is to another cat beside Birman for breeding purposes.
Also known as Key-Gaskell syndrome, feline dysautonomia is a neurological disease characterized by a degeneration of nerve cells.
As a result, the autonomous nervous system (ANS) starts to malfunction. The ANS is responsible in controlling most body functions such as:
Failure of the ANS can negatively affect these important body functions that can lead to poor motor skills and system incoordination.
Much like cats with Down syndrome, feline dysautonomia shows symptoms such as disequilibrium and inability to judge distance.
Furthermore, they manifest physical deformities such as dilated pupils and protrusion of third eyelid.
Other symptoms may include diarrhea, vomiting, nasal discharge, muscle wasting, straining to urinate and difficulty in breathing.
Despite being a rare condition, it tends to affect cats younger than 3 years.
Though the underlying cause of feline dysautonomia is unknown, veterinarians recommend having your pet undergo a full physical exam.
This is to pinpoint the areas or the organs that are being affected by this condition.
So, before you hastily jump into conclusion that your pet has Down syndrome, you should first consider the possibility of other genetic disorders that are more particular to cats.
If you’re in doubt, you can always seek the advice of a vet to find out the real problem.
Whether feline Down syndrome is possible or not, it is best to know the necessary steps to handle this condition.
For now, we just have to wait for further research to deduce the issue on cats with Down syndrome.
Another curious thing is that – when did people become so interested with Down syndrome cat? There must be a spark that made this issue a very hot topic for discussion.
All you need to do is look it up on the internet. And you’re likely to find a huge deal of articles about cats with Down syndrome.
We can trace back the issue from some of the special cats that have caught the attention of all cat lovers.
Meet Monty and Max, two of the most famous cats in the world that most people believe to have Down syndrome.
Due to their unique facial features and characteristics, even their owners think that they are inflicted with Down syndrome.
Some people may think otherwise. But the news that a cat may possibly acquire such syndrome is a very interesting story to read.
And just like that, cats with Down syndrome have already taken the world by storm. All of a sudden, everyone wants to have their own Monty or Max.
It was August 2013 when a Copenhagen couple adopted the little 3-year old Monty Boy from an animal shelter.
Monty’s special appearance, which the couple finds incredibly cute, made them decide to adopt him.
He has a sunken nasal bridge and wide set eyes, features that are very different from normal-looking kitties.
But aside from his unique looks, Monty also showed distinct behavior that is unexpected from his species.
In an animal shelter, multiple kitties are usually confined in a single room. As their instinctive reaction to this kind of environment, cats normally feel anxious with the presence of other kitties.
Despite the aggressiveness of other cats around him, Monty remained calm and quiet. He simply ignored those anxious kitties that try to lash out at him.
He periodically pees in his sleep which is very uncommon to cats. And Monty doesn’t seem to mind doing that.
Because of these unusual characteristics, the couple took Monty to a vet, hoping to understand his uncommon habit.
The owners learned that their pet is exhibiting certain symptoms that are endemic to aging cats.
As cats age, they tend to lose control of their bladder because their neurons are drastically deteriorating.
And as a result, they can’t control their pee and they usually do urinate while they’re asleep.
Surprised by the diagnosis, the owners believed that there must be some underlying implications why their pet is showing odd behavior.
It turns out that Monty has a chromosomal abnormality with symptoms that can be compared to that of a Down syndrome.
Since there are no supplemental research that can reinforce Down syndrome among felines, the couple can only regard it as a rare feline abnormality.
But this unusual condition didn’t stop the couple from taking good care of him. In fact, it gave them more reason to love him.
When the couple introduced Monty to the world through social media, he immediately caught everyone’s attention.
According to some people, his oddness is what makes him precious and unique from other cats.
Whether it’s Down syndrome or not, the couple simply wanted the world to know that they accept Monty for what he is.
For them, being different is a fantastic thing. We can all agree that Monty is indeed fantastic.
As of this writing, Monty’s Facebook page has more than 400,000 followers and you can also check it out to see the latest updates on this adorable kitty.
Additionally, you can buy various Monty merchandise such as jewelries, keychains, bags, postcards, stickers, pens and more. All proceeds will benefit the animal shelter where Monty was initially raised.
Max’s owner was baffled when his pet, a 9-year old ginger cat, showed behavioral oddities that are not common to typical cats.
Unlike most cats, Max lacks coordination and agility. He has never been able to focus and he frequently walks straight into the glass window.
When it comes to appearance, Max looks perfectly normal and nothing seems to be off even at the slightest. So why is Max behaving differently?
Distressed over Max’s situation, the owner consulted a veterinarian to diagnose the problem.
Dr. Arthur Frauenfelder, a veteran veterinarian, assessed Max’s behavior and diagnosed that Max is exhibiting symptoms of Down syndrome.
Max ha spoor coordination and balance due to his under-developed lower brain which is typical for individuals inflicted with this syndrome.
Although he can clearly see where he is going, his inability to judge distance is the reason why he always bump into things.
According to Dr. Frauenfelder, neurons and nerve fibers in animals significantly weaken as they age. Normally, cats will manifest poor coordination when they reach the age of 12.
But in Max’s condition, the loss of coordination manifested itself earlier than usual.
In other words, Max should still be in good condition at his age. Although the diagnosis showed that Max had a minor degree of Down syndrome, the symptom can worsen each passing year.
Dr. Frauenfelder also stressed that Down syndrome progresses at a slow pace. And there is only so much the owners can do. In order to slow down the ill effects of this condition, he suggested a change in diet.
Give your pets enough vitamins by providing them natural foods. And as much as possible, avoid giving them food additives.
You may not be able to tell right away that a newly-born kitten has Down syndrome. But you can notice the signs when the kitten starts to grow.
Due to genetic condition, kittens with Down syndrome grow slower than normal kittens. Oddities in appearance and behavior also become more apparent as they grow.
If you notice these symptoms in your pet, you may consider Down syndrome as the cause. However, you must also evaluate other factors.
While it’s true that the symptoms are present, it can be the result of other medical conditions and not Down syndrome.
There is also the likelihood that there is nothing wrong with your kitty. It may manifest uncommon behavior but it may simply be a part of its unique characteristic.
Remember, each kitty is unique and looking different doesn’t necessarily means it not normal.
On a cellular perspective, cats cannot possibly develop Down syndrome because they do not have the chromosome 21.
But if we solely rely on symptoms, then we can say that cats can possibly develop this genetic condition.
In most cases, pet owners have been misdiagnosing certain conditions to Down syndrome.
As a matter of fact, Down syndrome misdiagnosis often turns out to be cerebellar hypoplasia or Klinefelter syndrome.
But since most people are more familiar with Down syndrome than these feline genetic disorders, people customarily refer to them as Down syndrome.
Not just us, but even some veterinarians choose to use the term ‘feline Down syndrome’ in their diagnosis.
This is mainly because people can easily understand the term rather to use other unfamiliar terms. Down syndrome is certainly not the most accurate statement for this feline condition.
But if the term can give owners a better understanding about this disorder, then we see nothing wrong with that. Now, back to the question: cant cats acquire or develop Down syndrome?
Every cat is susceptible to feline genetic disorders such as cerebellar hypoplasia, Key-Gaskell syndrome, Klinefelter syndrome and feline polyneuropathy.
Most of these conditions can be inherited from their parents or ancestors. This is why some experts are blaming over breeding as the root cause of these ailments. But none of these genetic disorders are contagious.
So, you’ve just found out that your favorite kitty has genetic disorder. As a responsible owner, what can you do about it?
Up to now, there is no known cure to fix genetic abnormalities. The only thing you could do for cats with Down syndrome is to find ways to properly manage the symptoms.
Nevertheless, we should not lose hope. We shouldn’t underestimate the power of science as it continues to find answers in controlling genetic disorders in felines.
But we just have to wait until further research can find out how to simplify the complex process of inbreeding and propose a more advanced DNA testing mechanism.
That could only be the time when hereditary genetic conditions can be possibly controlled. Because genetic manipulation is the only method to tamper a cat’s genetic makeup.
We can reduce the incidences of cats with Down syndrome or other genetic disorders by taking our cats for DNA testing prior to breeding.
The result of DNA testing can help scientists identify the presence of abnormal genes.
Based on the result, scientists can either ban the cat from breeding or will tweak the genes to prevent future disorders in their offspring.
If you have a cat with Down syndrome, we’re sorry to tell you that there’s no way to cure it.
But you can help prevent this condition from happening in the future by letting your pets undergo DNA testing before breeding them.
Sometimes, disorders are inevitable. Even if you think the feline parents are healthy, there’s still the possibility that their offspring may develop genetic problems.
Our pets are just like our own children. No matter who they may become, we’ll still love them just the same.
When you are sure that your feline buddy has Down syndrome, you have to prepare yourself for a bigger responsibility.
As you might have guessed, cats with Down syndrome require extra attention compared to their normal counterparts.
Needless to say, a ‘special’ kitty will need a special kind of love from their humans.
Taking care of them will entail extra effort and time on your part. But you’ll see in the end that everything you did for your pet’s sake was all worth it.
Here are ways to take proper care for a cat with Down syndrome:
Take advantage of the internet and look up for relevant contents about feline genetic disorders.
Understand the causes of these conditions and know everything there is to know about feline Down syndrome.
Be informed about the different types of feline genetic disorders along with their associated symptoms.
By distinguishing the similarities and differences of these genetic disorders, you can lessen the chance of misdiagnosis.
Take time to read previous cases of cats with Down syndrome. And pick out the most pertinent pieces of information on how to provide the essential care they need.
You can find several reading materials online that can guide you in taking care of your kitten with Down syndrome.
Taking care of kittens with Down syndrome is a serious and delicate matter. If you’re suspecting that you kitty is inflicted with it, take your pet to the vet for a diagnosis.
Discuss your pet concerns with the vet to help him/her arrive to an accurate diagnosis. Don’t hesitate to find second (or third, or as many) opinion by consulting another vets.
Your pet will be subjected to a series of physical exams and other clinical tests. But be patient.
The consultation sessions can be troublesome for both you and your kitty. But these are necessary in order to successfully identify the main health issue.
Once the vet has determined the cause of abnormalities, he/she will administer or prescribe appropriate treatment or medication.
Having a cat with Down syndrome can be a bit disappointing but this should not discourage you from taking care of it.
Besides, this feline condition is a rare case. Consider it a blessing when you got one. Instead of focusing on the imperfections, you should try to pay more attention to your pet’s well-being.
Take note that kittens with Down syndrome develop slower than their normal companions. However, if you provide an environment where it can develop its full potential, you may help normalize its stunted development.
Remember the advice of veterinarians and make sure to follow whatever recommendations they give you.
Give your pet a vitamin-enriched diet consisting of natural foods and stay away from foods that contain chemical additives.
Of course, a cat with Down syndrome looks remarkably different from other cats. So there’s no point in comparing it to other kitties.
Some owners of cats diagnosed with Down syndrome even takes pride of their pet’s unusual appearance.
For them, the uniqueness of their facial features is what makes them phenomenal.
So, your feline companion doesn’t look like most kitties out there. Furthermore, it doesn’t behave like an ordinary kitty. So what? Don’t force your pet to behave and look like a normal feline.
Sadly, there is no cure to alter the chromosomal abnormality in your pet. And the best thing that you can give to your special kitty is acceptance.
Despite their unfavorable attributes, cats with Down syndrome can really amuse us in so many ways.
They may not be as responsive as normal cats, but they tend to be more possessive of their humans.
If you try to hold and cuddle other pets aside from them, they will show signs of jealousy by hissing at you.
And if they want you to do something for them, they won’t stop bothering you until you give them what they want.
Special cats tend to be more lethargic. But when they get into their ‘active mood’, they can really get aggressive.
If you decide to adopt a cat with Down syndrome, you must accept it for whatever condition it may have.
Typically, cats are independent creatures that can look after themselves even without your assistance. But cats with Down syndrome are different.
This is because they do not have the sufficient ability to comprehend the situations that may harm them.
You can prevent the risk of exposing them to danger by providing a safe environment free of harmful things such as chemicals and electrical wirings.
Always remember that they lack the physical and mental aptitude to deal with dangerous situations.
Frequent visit to the vet ensures that your pet is in its optimum health. Even if your kitty isn’t manifesting any irregularity, subjecting it to thorough physical exams can prevent any serious health threat from arising.
How would you define a perfect cat?
Do you consider ‘normal’ as perfect? Or are you one of those people who prefer ‘unique’ pets over the ordinary ones?
Feline genetic disorder is a serious health issue and it involves extra care and attention.
What makes it worse is that there is no definite treatment or coping mechanisms for this condition.
It’s also important to point out that cats with Down syndrome are more difficult to train compared to the normal ones. But don’t be disappointed.
You’ll be surprised to learn that cats with Down syndrome are the most interesting pets in the world.
As long as you accept them with all your hearts and give the unconditional love, they will reward you with a priceless affection
Consider that a one-in-a-million experience which you can only gain from nurturing a special kitty.
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