Sunday, 25 March 2012

Guest Blog: Amanda speaks about Cerebellar Hypoplasia

I had never heard of Cerebellar Hypoplasia until I met Amanda through twitter.  I've signed up for her blog because I think the love these nominally disabled cats can offer is phenomenal - and I want to bring them to the notice of more people in the hopes that anyone dithering over adopting a CH cat will see that there's nothing to dither over, what are you waiting for!
Cerebellar Hypoplasia

By Amanda Maurer Woodhead

As I read a kitten’s profile on a few years ago, I was enchanted. His photo was adorable, and he was described as a sweet boy who loved to play with the plastic strips that come off of frozen orange juice containers. He sounded perfect. And as I read on, I realized that he was even more special than I could have imagined.

The kitten had a condition called cerbellar hypoplasia that made him unsteady when he walked. In fact, the shelter said that he moved around like a “drunken sailor.” At that moment, I knew he was the one. If I was going to adopt and love any kitten, it was going to be one who needed love the most.

Since then, my cat’s condition has inspired me to become an advocate for these special “wobbly cats.” I began a blog about CH in 2009, and thanks to the many people I’ve met through the blog, my husband and I adopted a second CH cat in 2011. It’s my goal to educate folks about cerebellar hypoplasia so they don’t feel uneasy about these cats, and so that they understand that the only things these cats need are a few simple accommodations and lots of love. Unfortunately, it’s a rather unknown condition that leads to many euthanizations each year, simply because it’s not well known or understood.

Cerebellar hypoplasia occurs when a cat is born with an underdeveloped cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls fine motor skills and coordination. It results in jerky or wobbly movements and tremors. The degree of the condition can vary greatly from cat to cat -- even those in the same litter. Some may hardly show any signs of the condition, while others may have a difficult time walking, if they can walk at all.

Fortunately, the condition is non-progressive, non-contagious and painless. There aren’t any health complications, and a cat with CH will live as long as any other cat. Nearly all CH cats learn to compensate with their limitations and challenges, and some owners even claim that their cat's CH has lessened in severity over time

One of the best things about CH cats is that most don’t seem to know that they’re any different from other cats. Consequently, it is natural to them to figure out how to overcome their limitations. For example, most CH cats can’t jump, so instead they become incredible climbers.

But they’re not alone in overcoming their challenges. There are many simple things CH cat parents can do to help their cat become more capable and independent. For example, some owners place area rugs in strategic spots so their cat has more traction and stability. Others place step-stools or pet stairs next to their beds so the cat can get up there easily.

There isn’t a treatment for this condition, but if you ask any CH cat parent, they’ll say that there doesn’t need to be one. They’ll claim their CH cat is one of the sweetest, most personable cats you’ve ever met. And if you don’t believe it, you can read some of their stories here.

If you’re interested in adopting a cerebellar hypoplasia cat, or would like to learn more, please visit my blog, Life with CH Cats


  1. I have a tabby, born to a stray cat, normal. He lived outside for a couple years, and then showed up appearing very dizzy. Turns out he had a severe ear infection that left him permanently wobbly. His head is turned crooked and he is awkward. However, like you said in your post, he seems to not know he's no longer normal. In fact, now that he lives inside, he seems happy go lucky and runs through the house with joy. His coordination is off and he does run into walls. And when he runs he can't stop and turn, but instead slides like he's a baseball player sliding into home plate. He actually takes joy out of sliding on the wood floors. I put down a small rug and now he rides it like its a magic carpet. I feel I kinda jinxed him since I named him Jack Sparrow...after the Johnny Depp pirate. Now he walks like Sparrow!

  2. Aww he sounds adorable Kimberley! He's a lucky boy to have found a forever home with you, he may not have come by his disorientation by the same way but you may find some of Amanda's posts on her own blog helpful. I wish you many long years with Jack Sparrow, riding his magic carpet, what a wonderful picture that conjures up.