The earth is home to millions of living animals. Each year tens of thousands of different animal species are still being discovered by scientists around the world. Like the constant discovery of new animal species, there are still some curious "facts" about known animals that scientists need to further evaluate and investigate. One of these is the reported cases of cats having Down syndrome.
A quick search in the web will give you some owners who complain that their cats have Down syndrome. There are even photos and documentation of the cats that look like they really have Down syndrome. Unfortunately, this can only be false cases (unless proven otherwise).
Cats Can Really Have Down Syndrome?
These are some points to help you decide if cats can really have Down syndrome:
- Chromosomal differences : Humans are known to have 23 pairs of chromosomes while cats have 19 pairs. The point here is that Down syndrome occurs when an extra chromosome 21 is present. Cats have different chromosomal structure and number, thus making it virtually impossible for cats to have Down syndrome.
- Misdiagnosis : The cats reported to have down syndromes could have been mistakenly diagnosed by veterinarians or doctors in charge of the cat. Cats are known to have genetic disorders like Klinefelter syndrome. Upon reading the reports of the owners of the cats purported to have Down syndrome, the owners seem to have generalized conclusions which are mostly based on the facial features of the cat. On the other hand, the cases where doctors declared or diagnosed a cat with Down syndrome do not have sufficient medical evidence to really prove that it is Down syndrome. Most of the time, it's just a doctor's initial diagnosis.
- Cat's behavior : Some people point out that their cats have Down syndrome because of certain behaviors like inactivity and a lack of coordination and balance. However, this behaviors and traits may simply be part of the cat's own unique character. Or if not, these type of characteristics may be symptoms of other kinds of diseases which points back again to item number two.
- Inbreeding : Inbreeding is a type of reproduction wherein two living things who share similar genetic make-up mate with each other and produces an offspring. Inbreeding can cause several genetic defects. Genetic defects have a large chance of occurring because the recessive and/or unwanted genetic traits of both persons are passed on to their offspring. Since the biological parents are of the same blood, any chance of acquiring hereditary diseases that the bloodline has is doubled.
Cats With Down Syndrome - Some Ways To Care
On the other hand, there are those who say that cats can have Down syndrome. According to them, Down syndrome is triggered as long as an extra copy of chromosome is present. If this definition of Down syndrome holds true, then technically, cats can have Down syndrome.
Whether your cat has Down syndrome or not, proper care and love should still be given. Here are some ways to care for your cat if you think it has Down syndrome:
- Consult veterinarians : That's right. Veterinarians with the "s". Do not just rely on the diagnosis of one veterinarian. Try to consult with others and ask for a second opinion. If tests are necessary, be more than willing to subject your cat to these. The tests can help identify what's wrong with the cat and/or help in knowing what treatment or intervention should be administered.
- Read and research : Veterinarians are not the only people who could help your cat. You can too. Read books about cats. Research about Down syndrome and cats in the local library or on the internet. With the world as it is today, information is easy to access.
- Avoid comparisons : Do not compare your cat with other cats. If your cat is inactive, does not do well in interacting with other cats, and cannot perform tasks that are normally performed well by cats, do not despair and immediately point out that it has Down syndrome. Comparing does not do anything to help the cat. Why not focus on the cat and help it grow well? Maybe it just needs a little "push" to perform well.
- Acceptance : One of the best things to do if your cat was really diagnosed with Down syndrome is acceptance. Whatever you do or say, it's hard to change anything especially if it's on the genetic level. Try to see your cat in a new light. Look for its beautiful characteristics or positive traits instead of solely focusing on its negative traits brought about by Down syndrome. If you really love your cat, then you will give it unconditional love and care whatever condition it may have.
Connie on January 10, 2020:
I just rescued a small cat with health issues who was lethargic and dehydrated - several days later she began moving more - we had her spayed about 4 weeks after the rescue - the vet could not tell her age nor her breed bc she is very different - we plan to get a dna test in the future - your article got my attention although she doesn’t seam agile enough she may need more time and I also think because in humans thyroid disease may cause similar issues I’m thinking she either will heal and be normal or ill get her thyroid tested - thanks