In 2012, the Grumpy Cat took the internet world by storm. The cat's unique facial features and "grumpy" appearance turned her into an internet sensation, and fans started a rumor that she was, in fact, born with Down syndrome. Does the famed Grumpy Cat have Down syndrome? Here is a look at the science behind the celebrity.
What is Down Syndrome?
Humans have 23 chromosomal pairs; in each chromosomal pair, the father and mother contribute a chromosome for a total number of 46 chromosomes. When a person inherits an additional chromosome, that person is said to have a "trisomy." That person will have a total number of 47 chromosomes. The type of birth defect that a person has as a result of this extra chromosome depends on what chromosomal pair has the extra chromosome. For example, people with Trisomy 18--Edward's syndrome--have an extra chromosome in the 18th chromosomal pair; the associated birth defects include heart and kidney problems and developmental issues.
A person with Down syndrome inherits an additional chromosome--usually from the mother--in the 21st pair. Down syndrome is also called "trisomy 21" because this extra chromosome always appears in the 21st chromosomal pair.
Can Cats Have Down Syndrome?
Cats cannot have Down syndrome. Humans have 23 chromosomal pairs and cats only have 19, for a total of 38 chromosomes. Because cats do not have a 21st chromosomal pair, it is impossible for them to have Down syndrome--trisomy 21.
It is possible and even common for cats to have genetic disorders, however. It is also possible for cats to exhibit symptoms that are similar to those associated with human Down syndrome, like wide-set eyes, coordination problems, heart disorders, and developmental deficiencies.
The most likely cause of Down syndrome-like symptoms in cats is a genetic anomaly called cerebellar hypoplasia. Also known as "wobbly kitten syndrome," this disorder causes imbalance, coordination problems, head tremors, and head tilting.
So, Does the Grumpy Cat Have A Feline Version of Down Syndrome?
The infamous Grumpy Cat does not have cerebellar hypoplasia or any feline equivalent of Down syndrome. Actually, this feline internet celebrity has an inherited form of dwarfism.
There are many forms of dwarfism, but some of the symptoms--like those exhibited by the Grumpy Cat--include an underbite, a larger head, and disproportionate features. Developmental delays are sometimes present, but not always. In many cases, cats live long and happy lives without serious health problems, but if you suspect any issues with your feline friend, contact a company like Windsor Animal Hospital.
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