Cats With Down Syndrome: Signs & Preventions

by Downtownanimals
Cats With Down Syndrome

There is a lot of talk about whether dogs and cats with Down Syndrome. When you hear “Down Syndrome,” you might think it refers to a genetic mutation that causes faulty DNA. However, the term refers to a condition caused by abnormal chromosome abnormalities.

What is Down Syndrome?

Down syndrome is a genetic state affecting around 45,000 babies born in the United States yearly. It’s a condition that many people are familiar with – it’s the most well-known disability. However, because there are some subtle differences between ordinary people and those with Down syndrome, you must know the differences before you struggle with learning about and speaking about this condition.

Down syndrome is a brain condition that affects 1 in 500 babies born in the U.S. and is usually present from the second month of life. Down syndrome is the most severe type of trisomy and is generally associated with mental retardation and learning disabilities.

What is Down Syndrome?

4 Feline issues that seem like Down syndrome

1- Panleukopenia virus

Panleukopenia virus is a common cause of infantile convulsions in infants and children. It is not life-threatening and is usually diagnosed within 24 hours of symptoms. In some cases, it can be treated with a course of antibiotics.

In the early hours of November 11th, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the death of a child diagnosed with Down syndrome Panleukopenia virus. The third child has died in the past two weeks from this virus. The young child, named Ola Fransman, died just a few hours after his father, Rafał Wygórski, was admitted to the hospital in Warsaw.

Panleukopenia virus in cats

2- Trauma to the head

Trauma to the head is caused by the repetitive and over-intense movement of the brain or spinal cord, which results in injury and sometimes permanent damage. It can take place as a result of a variety of injuries, ranging from:

Trauma can cause damage to the brain, and this, in turn, can result in a few of the most invisible disorders that people may not realize they have. It can include a stroke and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). It is a disorder that affects the brain and displays symptoms such as memory loss, confusion, inability to walk, and other severe symptoms.

Trauma to the head in cats

3- Cerebellar hypoplasia

Cerebellar hypoplasia is a genetic condition that your brain is not working correctly. It can be life-threatening when a person with severe Cerebellar hypoplasia can’t manage to control their body with their muscles. The most common problems associated with Cerebellar hypoplasia are:

Cerebellar hypoplasia (CH) is a condition that causes a disorder in the cerebellum. There are two main types of CH, lateral cerebellar ataxia and posterior cerebellar ataxia. A child with CH may also have an underactive cerebellum. This disorder can affect any child from the ages of 4 to 8.

Cerebellar hypoplasia in cats

4- Feline dysautonomia

Feline dysautonomia is marked by widespread degeneration of the autonomic nervous system, leading to esophageal distension and dysfunction, gastric and bowel distension and hypomotility, urinary bladder distension, and pupillary dysfunction.

Feline dysautonomia in cats

What Causes Down Syndrome-like Symptoms in Cats?

Physical and behavioral abnormalities of the so-called feline down syndrome can indicate a host of other issues, from neurological diseases, infections, congenital anomalies, and even trauma. 

For example, cats infected in utero with the panleukopenia virus can grow many physical and other abnormalities similar to down syndrome. Cats can also hurt from cerebellar hypoplasia, which causes down syndrome-like behavioral traits.

Cats whose mothers were revealed to certain toxins can also show different congenital malformations. These toxins may affect the facial structure and the neurological system. Any trauma to the face and head, especially at a very young age, can cause permanent neurological damage and physical injuries that may appear to have been present since birth.

Your vet can do an X-ray scan, run genetic tests, and other special tests if your pet needs that to diagnose if there is any genetic disorder or a disease. There have been cases where cats have been diagnosed with a genetic disorder that is very close to so-called feline down syndrome. 

There’s one more thing you might want to consider. If your cat is diagnosed with a condition that requires surgery, you need unique accessories. For instance, if your cat just underwent surgery or has a joint problem on the neck and shoulder blades, you need to be careful with the collar. Ask your vet to help choose the right type of collar for your feline buddy.

Down Syndrome Signs In Cats

Human beings can experience various physical and mental signs of Down Syndrome. Cats can also share these and many other abnormalities. When they’re still young, cats may not grow and develop appropriately due to a lack of nutrition or genetic condition. As they get older, felines are prone to developing various muscle issues. Cats may also suffer physical anomalies, which can be caused by inbreeding or disease.

Felines wrongfully diagnosed with Down Syndrome look or act abnormally compared to other cats. Droopy instead of alert ears, squished noses, slanted or wide-set eyes, poor muscle tone, and social abnormalities are typical for what has become known as Feline Down Syndrome. However, each kitty out there is unique. Don’t expect yours to look 100% like all other cats of the same breed.

Down Syndrome Signs In Cats

If It Isn’t Feline Down Syndrome, Then What Is It?

Down syndrome-like symptoms in cats usually indicate that something else happened during utero that affected the normal development of the kitten. If a kitten is infected with the panleukopenia virus while in utero, that infection can result in many abnormalities commonly associated with ‘feline Down syndrome.

Other infections, congenital disabilities, exposure of the mother cat to toxins while pregnant, and diseases of the neurological system, like distal polyneuropathy (disease of nerves) or feline dysautonomia (degeneration of the autonomic nervous system), can mimic the signs of Down syndrome. For example, take cerebellar hypoplasia, a condition that causes abnormal development of the part of the brain is called the cerebellum.

Cerebellar hypoplasia can cause a cat to have difficulty eating food and walking, which can confuse with Down syndrome. Furthermore, kittens who experience head and facial trauma may have been born with abnormal facial structures and neurological problems.

Taking care of cats with Down syndrome-like symptoms

If your kitten or cat exhibits Down syndrome-like symptoms or behaviors that are different from typical cat behavior, they can be classified as a “special needs cat.” Special needs cats need special care since they are more vulnerable to dangers or accidents. For example, they may need extra assistance in daily functions such as eating, drinking, grooming, and the like.

You may also need to protect yourself from dangers and hazards such as stairs, pools, and predators. These are mainly important if your cat show signs such as loss of sight or hearing.

In caring for your cat with Down syndrome-like symptoms, it is essential to work hand in hand with your veterinarian. You must also know the healthcare options to determine the best treatment for your cat.

Another way to look out for your pet is to use devices such as the Petcube interactive cat camera that provides HD live streaming video, smooth two-way audio, and crystal clear night vision. With the Petcube Cam, you’ll be able to keep tabs on your pet and know immediately if they need assistance.

Taking care of cats with Down syndrome-like symptoms

Popular Cats With Down Syndrome 

1- The Ginger Cat – Max

When Max, the cute ginger cat, turned nine, he was affected by FDS. At times, he walked right into objects such as glass windows. Glen, Max’s owner, was upset over his pet’s condition and pondered over his inability to help Max.

2- The Beauty Cat – Monty

Raised by Danish friends Bjorn and Klein, Monty differed from the other pets. One of the more exasperating differences was that Monty peed in his sleep. In general, older cats may suffer from neuron loss, damaging their ability to hold urine. Monty is one of the much-loved social media felines and has more than 3 00,000 Facebook followers.


How to care for a cat with down syndrome?

We all know that cats have many personalities, some of which can be incredibly quirky. Some cats have personality disorders, such as “cat-at-a-distance” or “cat-with-a-heart-of-gold.” And then, some cats have Down syndrome, a devastating condition in which the baby has no brain development at birth and can’t talk or even walk.

Characteristics of cats with down syndrome

Most cat owners do not know that their cats have Down syndrome. They think their cat is average. However, it is essential to understand that many cats with Down syndrome do not act as normal normally. The cats with down are also more sensitive to sounds and noise. They are also more prone to vocal distress and anxiety.


A new study has been conducted and discovered that cats and dogs can have Down Syndrome. The study was directed by a group of scientists who wanted to determine if cats and dogs had the same genetic structure as humans. The study found that cats and dogs can have Down Syndrome and are genetically very similar to humans because they have the exact chromosome count.

Yes, cats can be born with Down Syndrome. It’s an infrequent occurrence, but it does happen. We’re happy to report that most cats with Down Syndrome are perfectly healthy and happy, just like any other cat out there. These cats are amiable and affectionate, just like any other cat. The only difference is that they’re bigger and have a face that looks slightly different. To learn more about cats with Down Syndrome, check out this article we wrote a while back.

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