Can Cats Have Down Syndrome?

You’ve probably heard the term “Cats with Down Syndrome” lately. If you are a very active person in social networks, surely you have noticed that lately some cats appear with different physical characteristics, to those that the rest of their species have.

And if you have investigated a little, you should already know who these kittens are, Grumpy Cat, Monty or Maya, surely with some of these names you will have come across in your investigation and it is that they became famous in networks.

They became influencers precisely because of their physical differences, which they associated with Down syndrome.

Down syndrome in cats. It’s true?

We can say that down syndrome in cats does not exist. But why isn’t it true? Well, simple, Down Syndrome is a genetic alteration that is only possible to occur in humans and primates.

And this has a scientific explanation, and that is that Down Syndrome is caused by a trisomy in a specific pair of chromosomes.

As we know, human beings have 23 pairs of chromosomes (46 chromosomes in total). Down syndrome occurs when a trisomy occurs in pair number 21 , this means that in pair 21 there is an extra chromosome.

On the other hand, cats are possessors of a genetic distribution totally different from that of human beings.

Cats only have 19 pairs of chromosomes (that is, 38 chromosomes in total) so it is impossible for them to suffer from this type of genetic alteration, Down syndrome.

In simpler words, cats do not carry enough chromosomes in their genetics for a case of Down syndrome to occur in them. Scientifically, it is not possible.

The Truth About Cats “With Down Syndrome”

While it is true that when a human suffers from Down Syndrome, it can present certain delays in its growth. It may also have some specific physical characteristics by which it is possible to recognize them, as carriers of a genetic alteration.

These people generally have wide, slanted eyes, a flattened nose, or short hands. That said, they are wonderful, lively and intelligent people who can do anything they put their mind to.

And due to these peculiar characteristics, there are many people who believe that their cats have Down syndrome because of their physical appearance.

However, just because your cat has these very similar characteristics, it does not mean that it suffers from this syndrome.

These particularities can appear in your cats for very different reasons, for other pathologies. Pathologies such as inbreeding, which can cause some physical and mental abnormalities in cats, or even influence the cat’s way of being.

Apart from inbreeding, there are other conditions or syndromes that can be diagnosed in cats. These can cause these characteristics in their appearance and behavior very similar to those caused by Down Syndrome. These are:

  • Cerebral hypoplasia: this is a neurological condition, which causes cats to be born with a poorly developed cerebellum, with an immature cerebellum.
  • Klinefelter syndrome: this syndrome is caused by a genetic alteration, where the male cat is born sterile, because it has three sex chromosomes in its genetic material.
  • Distal polyneuropathy: this condition causes in cats a decrease in reflexes and muscle tone or the total absence of these. Producing weakness or paralysis in cats.
  • Feline dysautonomiafeline dysautonomia is a condition capable of affecting the Autonomous Nervous System of the cat. What can cause disorders in the cat’s digestive system or eye discomfort.
  • Genetic causes: The causes of these genetic alterations in general are not yet known.

So, if your cat has some different characteristics in its physical appearance or even has a strange behaviour, it is not that it has Down syndrome.

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