Max, a nine-year-old ginger cat, has been diagnosed with the feline equivalent of down syndrome. His owner wonders if there is anything that he can do for his cat as he gets older. When cats get older, he may become less coordinated and his symptoms may worsen.
Max’s owner says that his cat does well for the most part. But his coordination and balance have gotten worse as he has gotten older. He says that Max has never been able to focus, so when he goes to a window, he will walk into the glass.
From ABC Regional Online:
Vet and President of the Albury RSPCA Branch Dr Arthur Fruaenfelder says Glen’s descriptions of Max are typical characteristics of a cat with Down Syndrome.
“Down Syndrome is a very rare condition among cats. Down Syndrome is a deficiency in the development of the lower brain and what you have got is basically incoordination.”
“One way to consider Down Syndrome, is that you have got a spinal cord it comes up into the back of the brain and then it gets relayed all through the brain and the messages go back. What is happening here is that ‘relayed box’ is not working properly.”
“Max has got it to a minor degree and is actually able to co-ordinate to some degree. You will see more of the aging process as he gets to that nine to 12 years and more age bracket and more so then you see in other cats. The reason being as we age, we lose some of our nerve fibers or neurones, as Max hasn’t got as many of these he will show less and less co-ordination earlier on.”
“I would hope because he is nine and has been fairly good so far, at this stage I wouldn’t expect him to be totally incapacitated hopefully for a few years yet.”
Dr Fruaenfelder says with Down Syndrome there is not a lot you can do. “It is one of those things that just progresses and is very slow. I’m a great believer in keeping down the additives in foods so keeping him on natural foods and also a varied vitamin preparation.”