Cats

Things to Know About “Cat Down Syndrome”

By Bailey Schramm on April 13, 2022

While Down Syndrome is not something that is biologically possible in cats, there are a variety of similar symptoms you may notice in your furry friend. Certain genetic mutations and viruses could contribute to the behavioral or physical abnormalities you are noticing in your pet, so below, we will dig into what these symptoms are, what could be the cause, and how you can potentially treat them. 

What is Down Syndrome?

Down Syndrome is a condition in humans that is characterized by having an extra chromosome that is an exact copy of chromosome #21, which can impact a person both mentally and physically. While the manifestations of it differ from person to person, there are some common symptoms that can help diagnose this condition. However, this is not the case for cats, as they only have 19 chromosomes so they cannot receive a duplicate #21 as humans can. 

Symptoms

Despite the genetic impossibility for cats to develop Down Syndrome, there are still some abnormal traits and behaviors that you may notice in your pet that might raise some concern. Symptoms can include wide-set or misaligned eyes, poor vision, a clumsy walk, a flat nose, poor muscle tone, and other motor dysfunctions or ailments. 

Potential Causes

There are a variety of ailments that can cause Down Syndrome-like symptoms in cats, and it’s usually indicative that something occurred in-utero to inhibit the normal development of the kitten. Between infections, mutations, birth defects, malnourishment, and the mother’s exposure to toxins while pregnant, there are a number of contributing factors that could have caused these symptoms in your cat. Specific diseases or illnesses like panleukopenia virus, cerebellar hypoplasia, and feline dysautonomia can all cause severe damage to the cerebellum, and thus have a negative impact on their development.

Regardless of the possible illness or ailment that your feline friend could have had, you should visit a veterinarian to get an exact diagnosis if you notice one or more of the symptoms listed above. They can help you discover possible treatments or cures for the illness, especially if your pet is still a kitten with further development ahead of them. After that, you can focus on being a loving and caring cat parent with less anxiety and worry about the mystery ailment your cat is dealing with.


Bailey Schramm is a writer in partnership with leading stethoscope distributor, Stethoscope.com

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