Every cat owner (including myself) wants their kitties to be happy and healthy. So, when we notice some “special” physical traits and behaviors, we want to find out why our cats exhibit them.
Cats with eyes set wide apart, a flat nose, and slow development are often suspected of having Down syndrome, as their symptoms are consistent with symptoms of Down syndrome.
Naturally, cat owners then wonder: Do I have a cat with Down syndrome?
The short answer is No. Due to human chromosomal organization that differs from other animals (including cats), Down syndrome is a condition that only affects humans.
In this article, I will discuss more about cats that exhibit Down-syndrome like symptoms, what could have caused them, and will briefly mention one extraordinary cat named Monty!
Do Cats With Down Syndrome Exist?
No, cats with Down syndrome do not exist, as cats cannot have Down syndrome. Feline Down syndrome is also not a real condition.
Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes, compared to just 19 pairs in cats. As a result, cats do not possess the “extra chromosome 21″ present in people with Down syndrome.
Although the symptoms might coincide, there is no chance of a cat having Down syndrome.
However, it is possible for a cat to have another type of chromosomal abnormality or to have suffered a trauma that caused an unusual appearance of behavior.
Monty – The Cat With “Down Syndrome“
If you’ve spent some time on the internet searching for information about cats with Down syndrome, you might have come across Monty.
Although Monty is often called “a cat with Down syndrome”, this cute cat does not have Down syndrome.
To learn more about Monty’s story, check out the video below!
Monty was rescued at the age of three from a shelter in Copenhagen, Denmark, and was born without a nasal bridge. This little issue causes Monty to sneeze frequently, but he is an otherwise healthy cat and can breathe correctly.
Today, Monty has the job of raising awareness about special needs cats and the fact that outer physical appearance does not matter! He is also a mascot for the adoption and care of shelter animals globally. Go, Monty!
Monty even has an Instagram account with more than 650k followers. Make sure to check it out (and like a few posts)!
Most Important Information About Down Syndrome
The majority of people have 23 pairs of chromosomes. People with Down syndrome, a genetic disorder, have an extra copy of chromosome 21 in their bodies.
Trisomy 21—the medical term for this condition—causes Down syndrome.
The additional chromosome significantly alters a person’s looks (especially facial structure) and intellectual capacity.
Characteristic symptoms of Down syndrome are:
• Flattened bridge of the nose
• Slanted eyes
• Low muscle tone
• Protruding tongue
• Mild to moderate intellectual disability (such as learning difficulty)
Why Is It Impossible For Cats To Have Down Syndrome?
The short answer is: Cats don’t have chromosome 21, the chromosome whose extra-copy causes Down syndrome.
Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes, meaning we get 23 chromosomes from our mother and 23 from our father. Because of this, the standard number of chromosomes in humans is 46.
Now let’s look at the chromosomal arrangement of cats.
Cats have 19 chromosome pairs. As a result, cats cannot get Down syndrome since they lack chromosome 21.
And even if they did have chromosome 21, it would still be different compared to human chromosome 21.
Down Syndrome-Like Symptoms in Cats
Although cats cannot have Down Syndrome, they may nonetheless exhibit physical characteristics that match the disorder’s symptoms, such as:
• Flat nose/ broad nose
• Squished nose
• Eyes set apart
• Eyesight troubles
• Hearing troubles and hearing loss
• Low muscle tone
• Clumsy walking
• Motor dysfunction
• Heart problems
• Being shy
• Not wanting to socialize with other cats
• Congenital issues
As you can see, a number of these symptoms coincide with the symptoms of Down syndrome.
However, the underlying cause of these symptoms is not Down syndrome, as this is a human-specific genetic condition.
Causes Of Down Syndrome-Like Symptoms In Felines
Not all defects in cats that look and act like people with Down syndrome are caused by genetic problems.
Regardless of the cause, you might wish to consult your dependable veterinarian. They can perform diagnostic and genetic tests to reveal your cat’s underlying issues.
#1 Sustained Trauma
For instance, if a cat has previously had head or face trauma, the impact may have permanently altered its facial features and compromised its brain function.
#2 Exposure To Toxins
Additionally, a cat may develop congenital disorders that mirror Down syndrome if exposed to many hazardous substances.
Cats whose moms were exposed to certain poisons may exhibit various congenital abnormalities, and these poisons may impact the cat’s neurological system and face structure.
#3 Genetic Abnormality
A cat’s Down syndrome-like symptoms could result from a cat having a specific type of genetic abnormality.
#4 Exposure To Viruses
For instance, cats exposed to the panleukopenia virus in utero may experience various physical and behavioral problems resembling Down syndrome.
#5 Presence Of Another Disease
Cerebellar hypoplasia, a disorder resulting in behavioral characteristics resembling Down syndrome, can also affect cats.
Taking Care Of A Cat That Displays Down Syndrome-Like Symptoms
Cats with Down syndrome-like symptoms usually need some extra care.
This special care duty would be stressful for cat owners, just like any experience caring for a living animal with unique needs.
However, it is ultimately satisfying for the owners to see their “special needs cat” live happily despite their condition.
🐾 If your cat has physical limitations, you may need to take extra precautions to ensure the safety of your home and visit the vet more frequently.
🐾 The cat could require special cat care, which includes assistance in performing basic functions, such as bathing, eating, and drinking, or adjusting to life with vision or hearing loss.
🐾 To avoid being overstimulated, your cat may need to live in a less active, pet-filled household and may require a particular type of cat food to meet its dietary demands.
These extra precautions will be crucial to provide your pet with everything they might need for an excellent life.
To determine what these specific cats require, veterinarians and pet parents should work together!
Can Other Animals Have Down Syndrome?
No, it is not possible for cats or any other type of animal to have Down syndrome.
Down syndrome is only possible for humans, as it is a disorder characterized by the duplication of human chromosome 21.
However, this does not mean other animals do not display Down syndrome-like symptoms, such as a flat nose, widened eyes, slow development, and intellectual disability.
You might have seen a few photos of “a tiger with Down syndrome” named Kenny The Tiger. This tiger does not have Down syndrome. Because of inbreeding over many generations, Kenny has several different abnormalities.
Apart from Kenny and Monty, many other animals have distinct behavioral abnormalities, as well as physical and developmental issues. They are all very loving and unique in their own way (they just might need some extra care!).
Now you know the answer to Can cats have Down syndrome?
Even though there are no cats with Down Syndrome, a small number of cats display physical and behavioral traits typically associated with Down Syndrome.
This contributes to the myth that cats can have Down syndrome…
Cats cannot have Down syndrome, even though they sometimes act and look in an unusual way that some owners correlate with Down syndrome.
Even though you will never see a cat with Down syndrome, you might see a cat with Down syndrome-like symptoms. Be sure not to mix these two up!
I hope you liked this article and have learned something new!
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