Mentally Impaired Animals

Do animals have an animal equivalent of human Down’s Syndrome, Autism or other mental impairments? I know intelligence is difficult to measure in animals but many human mental impairments have associated physical abnormalities as well.

According to this report, a genetic disorder similar to that which is responsible for Down’s Syndrome does occur in mice:

Down’s syndrome gene ‘exciting’

I’ve met some brain-damaged cats but I’m not sure what the human equivalent would be. One that lived with my dad for a little while was cross-eyed and couldn’t walk in a straight line. Every so often she’d run into a wall at full speed, or do some crazy back-flips.

Before I adopted my male cat, he was hit by a car and had such severe head trauma that he was blind for awhile. The SPCA fixed him up and put him in the shelter where I was working. I couldn’t resist his dopey face and took him home. He definitely has something wrong with him and the best way I can describe it is OCD. He will lock onto things obsessively and cannot be deterred or distracted. He will also have violent fits.

Ah well. I still love the bastard. :slight_smile:

It’s almost impossible to judge mental impairment, per se, on animals because we don’t have quantified ways to measure their intelligence to start with. We can judge mental status (alert, responsive, etc.) and monitor for changes in that, and we can watch for behaviors that are abnormal for that species. That usually comes into play after trauma or as an age-related thing rather than a birth defect kind of thing, though.

Cat and dog fetuses do sometimes have various trisomies and other abnormalities, but those tend not to make it.

I can’t remember what it is called, but I have seen something in cats where they constantly shake, some can walk, in some cases they can’t. it seems to show up in cats whose mother has been exposed to FIV I believe. We used to get alot of kittens in at teh shelter I worked for with this, and in some cases a littermate would look normal, and some littermates wouldn’t even be able to stand.

I had an Aussie who, if not mentally impaired, at least had the IQ of asphalt. He would come to the door, scratch and whine to be let in, then run away when the door was opened. Wash, repeat. He would run away from his food dish. When called, he would run the opposite direction. He would sit and look at you with that head-cock that Aussies do, and you could tell that he was completely unfocused.

I guess you could compare his bizarre behavior to human impairment, but I’m always reluctant to ascribe human condition to other species.

There is a word for mentally impaired animals in the wild.