Can cats have Down Syndrome?
Many readers ask questions about this genetic disorder. Besides, recently
internet has been filled with cats with similar physical characteristics to
humans with Down Syndrome, but the question is: can
cats have Down
Down Syndrome has been considered a human-only condition, since it results
from the presence of three chromosomes 21 – found only in humans – in most
or all of the cells. However, some animals might have this genetic alteration.
Down Syndrome is a very rare condition for cats, and requires an accurate
diagnosis, as other genetic changes may have the same characteristics. The
so-called trisomies cause various malformations. Some visible changes can be
consequences of inbreeding – mating animals that are related.
There are also many other situations which can cause congenital changes in
animals. This may happen, for example, if a cat is infected by a virus during
pregnancy. Thus, some conditions are not necessarily a result of the pet’s
Unlike what happens with humans, in feline and some other species a disorder
such as Down Syndrome, or any different trisomy, can prevent the
development of the animal. Everything will depend on the health conditions of
the pet and the possibilities to alleviate symptoms resulting from these
If you think your pet may have a disability, whether it is physical or behavioral,
take it to the vet, who will examine it, make a genetic map (if necessary) and
recommend the best treatment. Don’t forget that love and affection are always
important in any situation.