A Down Syndrome Cat: Everything you need to know

Can cats have down syndrome?

Can cats have Down Syndrome? The short answer to this popular question is no; it is not possible for cats to have Down Syndrome. This article will explain everything there is to know about similar symptoms and why people what think their cat might have Down Syndrome.

What is Down Syndrome?

Down syndrome is a congenital condition in humans that affects people who suffer physically and mentally.

A chromosomal defect causes it. There are 23 pairs of chromosomes in each cell’s centre in humans, and people with Down syndrome have three copies- either complete or partial chromosome 21. They have some abnormal physical features such as low muscle tone, short stature, and a flat nose.

So-called Down Syndrome in cats and its symptoms:

Although cats may not develop the syndrome, they may form a chromosomal defect that causes the same physical and mental symptoms as people with Down syndrome. This could be the result of being born with an extra chromosome. Alternatively, this is due to abnormal chromosome pairs determining whether the fetus will develop into a male or a female.

Cats can’t have Down syndrome; they may show symptoms similar to Down syndrome, including:

  • Behaviour is different or weird as compared to other cats
  • Ears are unusually small or strangely shaped.
  • Difficulty in vision
  • The eyes become unusually wide
  • Heart problems
  • Low muscular tone

If you consider that your cat has one or more of the above symptoms, you must seek a professional vet. It is essential to consult your doctor about the cause. Although cats may not have Down syndrome because they do not have chromosome 21, they may have genetic disorders or diseases that can cause symptoms similar to those of the above. Scientists are trying to treat so-called down-syndrome in cats by a new technique. In this technique, they Inject drugs into the lateral ventricle of the cat to cure them

Cats with physical and behavioural abnormalities

Abnormalities in the physical characteristics and behaviours of the so-called “Down syndrome in cats” indicate another condition, one of which may not even be genetic. But, again, it is so-called Down Syndrome, not Down Syndrome because there is not an exact chromosomal defect in the case of cats as it is in humans.

These cats’ appearance and behaviour can be caused by various problems, including infections, neurological disorders, congenital abnormalities, and even trauma. Some cats have cerebellar hypoplasia, a condition that can lead to behaviour and characteristics of these “Down syndrome cats.”

Cats whose mothers have been exposed to certain toxins may suffer from various congenital disabilities that affect facial features and the nervous system. Besides, trauma to the head and face, especially at a very young age, can lead to chronic nerve damage and facial injuries that appear to have been present since birth.

“Special Needs Cats.”

If your cat exhibits specific behavioural and physical abnormalities, then it may be what is commonly called a “special needs cat”.

Cats with special needs conditions need special care. Parents of these special cats need to take extra precautions to protect them from hazards and predators that put them at risk. They may need help performing basic tasks (self-cleaning, eating, etc.) 

Why can’t cats have Down syndrome?

The following facts may help decide that cats are not susceptible to Down Syndrome:


Behavioural Disorders:

  • Behavioural disorders do not automatically translate into a disease. Cat parents whose cats have allegedly contracted Down Syndrome complain of behavioural differences ranging from poor balance and harmony to extreme slowness. Not all cats exhibit abnormal behaviour, but just because a cat behaves abnormally does not mean it has Down syndrome. This behaviour may be just part of the cat’s unique characteristics, or it may be a common cause of misdiagnosis. Inactive behaviour is a symptom of a variety of health problems. The cat may be suffering from another disease, which is why it behaves in a certain way.


  • The vet’s diagnosis may need further confirmation. Cats that are thought to have Down syndrome may be misdiagnosed. Veterinarians who have diagnosed them may not be aware of other genetic diseases. One symptom may be common in cats suffering from different diseases. This common symptom is also the basis of the claims of the joint cat owners. They conclude that genital mutilation, like Kleinfelter’s syndrome, can be physiological without realising any fact. 

Breeding Difficulties:

  • Breeding within the family can cause abnormalities. Inbreeding may be common for cats, but when two breeds with the same genetic makeup coexist, they more likely to give birth to defective offspring. The risk of successive (and often undesirable) traits and diseases is doubled in the next generation among members of the same family. That risk is halved for cats that harmonise outside of their direct lineage.

There is not sufficient medical evidence to prove that cats have Down syndrome.

Can cats have an intellectual disability?

Yes, cats can have an intellectual disability. The side effects of most genetic disorders include head trauma, lack of oxygen, and exposure to dangerous chemicals or toxins. Intellectual disability in cats affects their ability to learn basic things, including toilet training. They will also have motor dysfunction cases. Other symptoms include poor vision, hearing loss, and they can be socially awkward with other cats.

How To Care For Cats With Exact Symptoms Like Down Syndrome

Just because a cat has a small number of chromosomes, does that mean it has zero chance of contracting Down syndrome? Not necessarily. Unfortunately, no final results are currently available. The possibility still exists, but researchers have not yet shown concrete evidence that there is a feline version of a chromosomal disorder. Considering that cats have this problem, owners need to stand up and provide their beloved pets with more care than usual.

When you confirm that there is something wrong with your pets, you need to make sure they are correctly cared for. Cats with Feline Down Syndrome should receive more attention than their “normal” counterparts. Regardless of any condition, all cats need to be cared for and loved. If you believe that your cat has Down syndrome, here are ways to show your care:

Do your research: 

Learn the whole things you need to know about cats. Read more about common diseases that occur to them, their physiology, their lineage, the best ways to treat such conditions, and other essential pieces of information that can help you provide the care they need. There are many paperbacks and online reading materials in which you can dig your nose in. Before that, look for diagnostic cases of Feline Down Syndrome and see if the details match your cat’s exposure.

Talk to a vet: 

Even if you already have a current vet who can confirm your pet’s concerns, don’t hesitate to consult another doctor for a second opinion. If you feel the need to find more enlightenment, consult as much as possible, and use every resource you can afford. Your cat may have to go through several tests during some of these consultation sessions. You must agree to have your pet submissive so that you can provide an accurate diagnosis. Upon successful identification of the health problem, appropriate intervention or treatment will be adopted.

Focus on your cat’s health: 

 Always take advantage of the suspicion that this may not be a terrible condition that could cause your cat to behave in a certain way. Maybe the cat is slow and needs to be raised in an environment where it can grow to its full potential. Some pet training centres offer exposure to treated pets in various activities to normalise their behaviour or developmental stage. However, owners can still choose to walk by hand and take care of their cats on their terms.

Take care of them all the time: 

They need extra patience and vigilance to avoid harm. Please do not expose your cats to any environment that could expose them to hazards such as heights and predators. Do not expose them to electrical wires and devices. Also, make sure that harmful chemicals and substances are out of reach. Please do not rely on their ability to understand your instructions, especially on things that could harm them. They may not have the physical and mental capacity needed to deal with these situations.

Please provide them with routine check-ups: 

Bring them to the doctor for an official examination. The doctor is more equipped to deal with such issues and find out what could be wrong with your best friend. He or she can give better advice on what appropriate preparations and solutions to help your cat’s special needs. Even if your cat does not have any abnormalities, regular checkups will help ensure it is on top.

Monitor their diet: 

Feed them healthy foods and give them a comfortable place to rest. Due to the increased risk of health problems in cats with Down syndrome, a healthy lifestyle can be very beneficial for your cats.

Observe your cat: 

Judge them from their appearance and behaviour. Some minor changes can be an early warning sign of a significant problem. Examine your cat’s appearance and behaviour routine, so you can be notified immediately if something different is happening.

Does Down syndrome occur in other animals?

Down syndrome can occur in other animals, including lions, giraffes, and chimpanzees. There is no evidence that dogs or cats can develop Down syndrome.

[icon name=”info-circle” prefix=”fas fa-2x”] You may also be interested in our article on Common Health Problems In Cats

Hereditary Disorders That Could Be Mistaken as Down Syndrome 

Until an agreement about cat Down condition can be accomplished, proprietors should likewise know about other hereditary problems if they quickly ruin bizarre standards of conduct for Down disorder. Felines experience the ill effects of various genetic deformities that are difficult to distinguish except if wholly analysed. The accompanying hereditary issues are frequently analysed as a Down disorder: 

Klinefelter Syndrome 

One of the cats hereditarily and acquired neurological infections that impart a few similarities to Down Syndrome is the Klinefelter disorder. Vets have confirmed that this issue is undoubtedly present among felines; however, it is generally pervasive in cats with tortoiseshell tone (calicos). Tricolour felines couldn’t convey this issue since they have distinctive chromosome designs. 

Felines with Klinefelter’s disorder, engage in sexual relations qualities that contain XXY. Ordinarily, male cats have XY qualities, while two XX chromosomes describe females. Much like Down’s condition, felines with Klinefelter’s disorder have additional chromosomes. The abundance of sex qualities brings about the typical hereditary code of XXY. These cases are uncommon; however, they do happen on occasion. 

Male felines with Klinefelter typically experience creating auxiliary sex qualities, making them barren and incapable of duplicating or reproducing. Truly, kitties with XXY hereditary cosmetics don’t show up any not quite the same as expected felines. They don’t have distorted appearances. 

Typically, the Klinefelter-beset male felines are excessively ladylike to their benefit. This is most likely because they were initially expected to be females. There isn’t anything amiss with them generally. However, their ladylike qualities may confound spectators and make them think they have a personality emergency. 

Cats Cerebral Hypoplasia 

Another similar condition with Down Syndrome other than social and actual abnormalities is a psychological hindrance, which may differ, starting with one feline then onto the next. In any case, if your cat is fit for reacting ordinarily, notwithstanding having renal issues or helpless equilibrium, it is conceivable that another problem is grabbing hold of it. 

Moms with sickness or Feline Parvovirus (FPV) may bring forth little cats with cerebellar hypoplasia. Cat cerebellar hypoplasia is a neurological condition, which influences a feline’s strolling and adjusting capacities. It isn’t infectious. Cats brought into the world with this condition have immature cerebellums. The cerebellum is that part of the cerebrum liable for coordination and moving delicate engine aptitudes. 

Felines with cerebellum hypoplasia walk like “tipsy mariners.” Their developments are shaky and, now and again, careless. Regardless of whether they can see where they are going, they have no influence over their developments and wind up running into things. The condition may shift per cat in the litter. Some may have a more significant level of confounded engine versatility, while different littermates will barely indicate the condition. 

If you belive your cat has Down Syndrome or a similar condition seek the advice from a qualified vet.


Rochelle is a self-claimed crazy cat lady and proud cat mum to Owlie! She has owned, rescued, and fostered cats throughout her whole life. Rochelle created Cats On My Mind as a hub for likeminded cat parents to get all the information they will ever need to give their fur babies their best life!

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