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Birth Defect/ Retardation in a Kitten?

An elderly lady next door feeds many stray neighborhood cats. One stray had a litter of kittens and hid them in a barn where we were unable to reach them until the kittens were around 6 weeks. All the kittens seemed in good health except for one male who amazingly survived. He was obviously smaller than the others, but was very plump and obviously not malnourished. The most obvious thing about him (Slow-Poke), is that his facial features are exactly like those of a human with down's syndrome. His body is also very strange for a kitten his age, he's very round with much shorter legs than his brother who we kept who is at least twice as tall and long. He also moves extremely slow for a playful kitten of almost 10 weeks, although he has made much progress since we found him.

His list of disabilities go on... He hardly ever uses his liter box, he will soil himself sometimes, or cry when he needs to go until u take him to his box at times. He doesn't jump on the bed like his brother, he instead climbs slowly up with his claws in the sides of the mattress/ box spring. He has problems swallowing at times, gets constipation a lot, which the vet rec. oatmeal, and that's been working great! He is very lovable, but seems to have little emotion (u can hold him upside down and usually he'll just hang there, won't cry, as if he's a rag doll). We love and adore him and have done many things to accommodate his special needs, like special soft food, his own litter box w shorter sides, a stepping stool to get on the bed,I want to know he will have a normal life... I have heard cat's can't literally have Down's, but I have a cousin with DS and the similarities are overwhelming. I saw a kitten named Mongoloid on Youtube and these two could be twins if Slow Poke wasn't black and white.

  What would you guess he has?

Amanda & Slow Poke
1 Responses
931674 tn?1283485296
Down's syndrome has not been reported in cats. From your description, the kitten may have congenital hypothyroidism/cretinism.

From Boyd R. Jones, BVSc, FACVSc, DECVIM, MRCVS:
Congenital hypothyroidism due to inherited defects in thyroid hormone synthesis has been documented in recent years. Thyroid gland agenesis, thyroid peroxidase deficiency and primary hypothyroidism due to thyrotropin resistance have been reported.

The clinical signs of congenital hypothyroidism are summarised in Table 1. They can be mild or severe depending on the nature of the metabolic defect.

Table 1. Clinical signs expected with congenital hypothyroidism (Cretinism)

Stunted growth
Short broad head
Enlarged head
Small ears
Shortened limbs
Delayed closure of growth plates
Short rounded body
Thickened skin
Soft fluffy coat
Mental dullness
Retained deciduous teeth
± Goitre

At birth affected kittens can appear normal but by four to six weeks their growth rate slows and early death may occur. They remain immature as shown by disproportionate dwarfism, shorter limbs, large broad heads and short rounded bodies. Lethargy and mental depression can be pronounced. Replacement of temporary teeth is delayed and there may be weight loss and recurrent severe constipation.

I recommend veterinary examination and labwork ASAP.
Good luck,
Kimberly Coyner, DVM DACVD
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