Can Cats Have Down Syndrome?

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Have you ever see a Down patient? Have you ever see a cat that looks like them? Thousands of cat owner have said that their cats are getting Down syndrome because they have the appearance and behavior that look exactly like a Down patient. In this article, we will give you some information about this condition and answer the question “Can cats have Down syndrome?”.

What Is Down Syndrome in Cats?

It is believed that like humans, cats also have Down syndrome. Cats which are believed to have Down syndrome usually have round and wide-set eyes, small or stunted ears instead of erect ears and squished nose.

In addition to an exotic appearance, Down cats don’t react quickly to the owner’s command. Their actions are also abnormal. They are a little bit dull, clumsy, silly and usually being isolated by other feline friends.

What’s else? Like humans, these cats have poorly-developed muscles. And in some cases, they get heart disease and other diseases which are dangerous to their health.

Can Cats Have Down Syndrome?

Before answer this question, we should understand what causes Down syndrome in human. There are 23 pairs of chromosomes in human cells. A patient who is considered to get Down have a problem with the 21st pair of chromosomes. In particular, instead of having only 2 chromosomes, they have up to 3.

Those who get Down are described with a flat face, short neck, and thin upper lip. Their physical and mental ability cannot develop as normal people. Because of these features, Down patients look pretty the same as each other.

Now, get back to the question. Although having many similarities with Down patient, science has proved that CATS CANNOT GET DOWN. Why? The key is in their chromosome. Unlike humans, cats only have 19 pairs of chromosomes. This means they have no such 21st pair of chromosomes, and thus, no problem with it.

In fact, many studies have found that genes which appear in the 21st pair of chromosomes do have in cats. However, they are in a larger group called C2. The key is here is that there’s more than a pair of chromosomes, so we have no Down syndrome in cats.

Can Cat Have Other Genetic Disorders?

I would like to emphasize again: There is no Down syndrome in cats. You think this is a good sign to your cats, but don’t so fast, they may get other genetic problems. Here are some common genetic disorders that cats usually get:

Cerebral Hypoplasia

This is the disorder that happens the most in cats. The signs of Cerebral Hypoplasia are different from each cat, but they’re mainly difficulty in walking, sometimes look like a drunk. Most of the cats which get this disorder usually bump into people or objects.

Klinefelter Syndrome

This disorder appears mainly in male cats and calicos. Cats suffering from Klinefelter syndrome have a normal appearance, but their actions are a little bit feminine. Instead of having XY in their genes, they have XXY. More X means more feminine. That’s why they usually being confused by people. They can’t breed as well.

Distal Polyneuropathy

Cats suffering from Distal Polyneuropathy have problems with walking and standing. They can walk normally for a short period of time then fall suddenly. Only cats which have the same parents can have this syndrome. Scientists believed that recessive gene is the reason. Interestingly, this disease sometimes being misdiagnosed with Down syndrome and pelvic limb ataxia.

Feline Dysautonomia

This is a quite rare disorder in cats. There are some degenerated nerve cells that cause this disease, which makes the cats can’t direct their way exactly and falls usually. On the other hand, they may suffer from others diseases like constipation, diarrhea, third eyelids, and so on.

Can We Control Genetic Disorders in Cats?

In fact, there is no report that we can cure or inject vaccine to avoid genetic disorders in cats. Nevertheless, we can prevent these conditions from occurring on kittens by testing DNA. By this method, you will know whether your cats have abnormal genes or not before deciding to carry out breeding process.

How to Take Care of Your Cats If They Have a Genetic Disorder?

  • Take your cats to the vet at first and regularly so that they can have their health checked. In some cases, your cats will need a special treatment. Also, cats with a genetic disorder have a high risk of getting illnesses, so you should prepare some medications in advance, for example, Miralax for treating constipation. Believe me, this will make your cats healthier and happier.
  • Most of these cats are quite clumsy and silly. So, you must keep an eye on your cats to make sure they are not bumped or hit by other cats.
    Give your cats the best diet. Because of being in a really bad condition since they were born, giving them a good diet every day so that they can develop well. If you don’t know what food you should choose for indoor cats, you can check out this post.
  • Don’t breed them for three reasons. Firstly, genetic disorders can be passed to kittens. Secondly, cats having genetic disorders can’t take care of themselves as well as their kittens. If you let them give birth, kittens can be a burden not only for the mother but also you. Also, you can’t handle so many abnormal cats at the same time; it’s hard to keep your eyes on all of them.
  • Keeping the living environment of your cats is extremely important. From eliminating urine odor to removing urine stains from carpets, you should arm yourself with basic knowledge. For handling cat’s poop, a litter box is the best choice.
  • Focus on their bed as well. A comfortable place for sleeping may help them a lot.
    Keep loving them. Don’t hate them because of their exotic appearance or strange behaviors. Love them as they are a normal cat!


Although cats can have Down-like features and behaviors, they cannot get Down syndrome. Those features are the result of another genetic disorder. Anyway, no matter how your feline friends are, you still need to take care of them and take them to the vet regularly so that they can enjoy a healthy life.

Can cats have down syndrome? The question has already been answered. If you have any questions, please leave comments below. We will answer them as soon as we can. Thank you for reading!

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