Cats have fascinated the internet for almost as long as it has existed. And even better than ordinary animals are cats with rare quirks. Again and again one reads about cats with Down syndrome. Some of them have become real internet celebrities. The only problem is: there are no A cat with Down syndrome… We explain to you what Down syndrome in animals is all about and what facts can be behind it.
What is Down Syndrome in humans?
Down syndrome is actually called trisomy 21. There is a genetic defect behind it: healthy people have 23 pairs of chromosomes, a total of 46 chromosomes. Sometimes it happens that a chromosome is present not just twice, but three times. A person with trisomy does not have 46 but 47 chromosomes. If the 21st chromosome is affected, this is called trisomy 21 or Down syndrome. The symptoms of this disease in humans are varied. For example:
- a typical appearance with wide-set eyes, a small, round head and a broad bridge of the nose
- decreased body size
- muscle weakness
- susceptibility to infections
- congenital heart defects
- decreased intelligence
Many cases of trisomy 21 can already be detected during pregnancy. After the diagnosis, a very large number of women terminate the pregnancy, although many people A cat with Down syndrome now have very good life prospects.
Can Animals Have Down Syndrome?
The genetic structure of animals differs from that of humans. Cats, for example, only have 19 pairs of chromosomes. This means that they cannot have Down syndrome under any circumstances, because they do not have 21 pairs of chromosomes. Other animals cannot have Down syndrome in the narrower sense either. Nevertheless, trisomies and other genetic defects occur in them.
What diseases are really behind the ” A cat with Down syndrome”?
Animals with symptoms similar to those of people with trisomy 21 are sometimes referred to as “cats with Down syndrome”. These include, above all, the external characteristics. A cat like this, for example, is smaller than usual, has wide-set, slanted eyes, and a small head that is flattened at the back. Various diseases can be behind this unusual appearance. Sometimes it is just a matter of individual malformations that have no further effects on the cat’s health, sometimes there is a genetic defect behind it. Causes of genetic defects can be, for example, inbreeding, diseases of the mother cat during pregnancy or random mutations.
Do widely spaced eyes indicate a genetic defect?
Many people associate Down syndrome with a typical face shape with widely spaced eyes. But of course, this appearance is far from enough to make a diagnosis. This is especially true for animals, which have different face shapes than humans anyway. Nevertheless, an unusual appearance can also be a sign of a chromosomal defect in animals. If in doubt, you should ask your veterinarian about the reasons for your pet’s appearance.
What does a genetic defect mean for the health of cats?
Gene defects often affect not only the appearance, but also the behavior or the internal organs. This means that a cat with a genetic defect could have a heart defect or kidney problems, for example. She may have poor hearing or vision, or behave unusually. Maybe none of these problems exist. If you suspect that your pet might have a genetic defect, you should always speak to a vet about the problem. He can find out the causes and give you tips for your cat’s health.
How do I care for a cat with a genetic defect?
A cat with a genetic defect probably needs more attention and devotion from “their” people. Possibly the upbringing is more difficult and the tips of the usual advisors fail. For example, some cats find it difficult to housetrain. Animals with serious illnesses often have problems living with conspecifics. Depending on the comorbidities and symptoms, further care may be necessary. However, the restrictions and special features depend on the individual case.
Why are we so excited about ” A cat with Down syndrome”?
Animals said to have Down syndrome have become viral hits in recent years. These include, for example, the kitten Otto from Turkey, the tomcat Monty, whom a couple brought from a Danish animal shelter, and the white tiger Kenny. Photos of such animals amaze the web. But why? There are probably several reasons for this:
- Animals with a genetic defect are perceived by many people as cute or funny. Their unusual appearance attracts attention and is easy to market.
- This is exacerbated by the fact that they often behave in a clumsy and clumsy manner. After all, we’ve seen thousands of photos and videos of “normal” cats. Especially clumsy animals are something special.
- The stories about cats with Down syndrome are often heartwarming: They tell of animals that lived in animal shelters or on the streets for a long time and were then rescued. We just like to hear and see that.