When you Google “cats and Down syndrome,” you’re guaranteed to get a million results showing pictures of cats with strange facial features, titles like “cats with Down syndrome for adoption,” and medical terms you don’t know the meaning of.
Moreover, you’re probably going to get bombarded with articles about famous felines who are believed to suffer from Down syndrome. From Lil Bub who happens to be one of the most talked about fluffers out there with over 2.5 million followers on Instagram to Monty who’s close to getting 1 million followers on the same app.
Cats with Down syndrome attract attention because they’re different, but there’s more to their stories than meets the eye. Now, cats can experience physical or behavioral problems such as cognitive challenges, shortened stature, a flattened face, and hearing problems that point toward Down syndrome.
More often than not, though, they’re suffering from completely different conditions. You see, cats can’t biologically suffer from Down syndrome. What do we mean by that?
Humans have two copies of each chromosome – when you do some simple math, you’re going to notice that humans have twenty-three pairs of chromosomes.
Humans that suffer from Down syndrome, though, have twenty-one pairs of chromosomes which cause them to experience a myriad of health problems down the line. Cats, on the other hand, have nineteen pairs of chromosomes to begin with – which makes Down syndrome an impossibility for cats.
Yet, thousands and thousands of cats seem to suffer from the same condition that causes humans to have wideset eyes, short legs, or cognitive challenges. Cats like Lil Bub are short, stocky, and wobbly. Cats like Monty have wideset eyes, a smooshed nose, and hearing problems.
What’s the thing with that? Cats can suffer from an array of conditions that could cause them to showcase the same or similar symptoms to those of Down syndrome. Because of that, “feline Down syndrome” seems to be an umbrella term that pet parents use when they’re unsure of the condition.
With that out of the way, we’re bringing you a story of two kittens with Down syndrome that finally get a forever home.
Circling back to the beginning of the story, the two kittens were rescued from the streets of Brooklyn, New York. The two poor things were huddled together, braving the cold, and hoping someone would spot them and get them to a rescue.
That’s exactly what happened – a couple of Good Samaritans spotted them and contacted Infinite Hope, an all-volunteer, not-for-profit animal rescue, right away.
The two kittens were tiny, timid, and terrified. The TNR (trap-neuter-return) rescuer managed to scoop them up and get them back to the rescue.
When the TNR took a closer look, she noticed that the two kitten’s faces featured wideset eyes, smooshed noses, and a few other abnormalities.
The vet that examined them when they arrived at the rescue argued that the two might be suffering from a chrᴏmᴏsᴏmal abnᴏrmality, a version of Down syndrome typically found in felines.
The tabby kitty was diagnosed with a condition called entropion, too, which caused her eyelids to cover certain areas of her eye. The torbie kitty was stronger and braver, and she kept checking up on her brother.
The two kittens couldn’t get enough of each other – they kept reassuring each other, checking whether the other one was OK, and comforting each other with cuddles. The staff at the rescue fell for them right away because they were a miracle waiting to happen.
The two had a long way to go to recover, but the staff was sure that both the tabby and the torbie were going to push through whatever was ahead of them.
Around the same time, a woman named Michelle Parson was searching for a kitty to add to her furry family. She was recovering from the death of her cat, Buttons, who spend fifteen years with her – she didn’t know whether she was ready for another one.
She was browsing Petfinder when she came across a post by Infinite Hope. The moment that she saw the two kittens with Down syndrome, she couldn’t stop thinking about them and she knew she needed to do something about that.
She waited a few weeks because she wasn’t sure whether she was ready to adopt at that moment. She came back to Infinite Hope’s post and she was shocked to see that the two kittens didn’t get adopted.
Michelle thought she’d name the torbie kitty Calliope, and her son added he’d name the tabby kitty Auggie.
She saw that as a sign and decided to do some research about cats with Down syndrome. She was relieved when she uncovered that most cats with Down syndrome have a great quality of life and she decided to reach out to Infinite Hope to check whether the two kittens were free for adoption.
A week later, she came back to her house with two of the cutest kittens she’d ever seen. Auggie and Calliope were confused and needed some time to figure out whether they could trust Michelle and her family.
They spend most of the time huddled together, hiding under the table, and holding onto each other. They never separated, not even when they were going to the bathroom.
Calliope watched Auggie’s back and made sure nothing bad would ever happen to them – she was the backbone of the family and he knew that.
Over time, though, the kittens figured out that Michelle was there to help them.
They became more energetic, confident, and sociable. They started hanging out with the rest of the family, running around the apartment, and even cuddling with Michelle. They started going outside, playing with neighbors, and watching the birds. They blossomed.
Michelle never regretted her decision to reach out to Infinite Hope and adopt Auggie and Calliope.