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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.


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