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Meet Maya, the Adorable Cat with a Rare Condition Similar to Down Syndrome in Humans

Odette Odendaal
Jun 17, 2019
01:19 P.M.
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Maya, the adorable “down” cat, found her forever home with a “disability advocate” who have since inspired others to see beyond their abnormalities, and she even has her own following on social media.


A nonprofit organization in Salem, Massachusetts, The Odd Cat Sanctuary rescued Maya on June 20, 2017, although small for her size, and approximately eight months old, Maya had issues with her vision which stemmed from a chromosomal abnormality akin to Down Syndrome.


The Sanctuary then set to task in finding the perfect home for Maya, formerly called Sugarplum. They posted Maya’s details and her picture on their Facebook page and soon got overthrown with requests to adopt her.

Among the applicants were Lauren and her husband Harrison Beader living in Salem, and Lauren instantly got drawn to the unique cat. While a child, Lauren grew up with a special needs dog and also worked with disabled people for a living.


“I’ve actually coached a Special Olympics team nearly every Saturday since I was 12,” Lauren explained. “I consider myself a disability advocate, and have always known I wanted a pet with a disability.”

On July 27, 2017, Lauren’s wish came true when the Sanctuary picked them to adopt Maya, who has since adjusted well to her new life. “She is not shy, she talks a ton, she doesn’t always like to be pet, and she is super playful,” Lauren added.


While Harrison described her as a “typical cat” despite her abnormality, they also discovered that their feline friend’s nose gets congested from time to time due to her nasal structure. “Every time she gets out of breath, she sneezes like 15 times in a row. “It’s actually adorable,” Harrison elaborated.

Because Maya had a lot of fans before Lauren and Harrison adopted her, they created an Instagram page for Maya so everyone could stay updated. The page gained over 450,000 followers since, something Lauren never expected.


People started expressing their willingness to adopt a special needs pet, but Lauren hopes that she inspires others to adopt for the right reasons.

“Do it because they have a harder time being adopted and you want to give them a good home,” Lauren said. “Just know that it’s a commitment. No matter what health issues arise, you’ve got to be there for them.”


Lauren’s inspiration didn’t stop at Maya’s Instagram page. On March 24, 2018, Lauren published a book called Meet Maya Cat: A story about acceptance, illustrated by Harrison.

The children’s picture book teaches children of all ages to accept others who are different through the metaphor of a silly little cat, inspired by Maya while all proceeds of the book are earmarked as a donation to Special Olympics Massachusetts and The Odd Cat Sanctuary.

While on the weird and wonderful subject of cats, another beloved pet in Germany’s story went viral for it's striking and rare nature.

Nicole Bohm’s cat, Elli developed a rare condition that is also sometimes found in humans.