My Cat has Cerebellar Hypoplasia

If you have been hanging out on my blog for a while you may know about our special friend, Champion.  Champion is our little warrior kitty who has been diagnosed with Cerebellar Hypoplasia. 

Does your cat shake? Does your cat fall over easily? 

Cats are lovely companions and friends for lots of people out there, and it’s no different when they become sick or are genetically different than others. But how much have you heard about cerebellar hypoplasia, or CH?  Hopefully some of you know something about it, but its likely most of us live our whole lives not knowing about this disorder.

I have to say Champion is just like any other cat I have owned even though he is different in so many ways. Let’s talk about cats with cerebellar hypoplasia.

What is it?

Cerebellar hypoplasia is a neurological disorder that occurs in cats whose mothers were positive for feline distemper sickness when pregnant with her kittens. It can also occur at random, but is most likely with this instance. This causes the kittens’ brains to physically struggle in development and then not fully or properly develop in time. Cerebellar hypoplasia is a result of a cat having a deformed or injured brain, and it’s lifelong. But this ailment is a disorder not a disease, which means it’s not contagious and studies show it isn’t painful.

Having CH means a cat will suffer from lack of coordination between their brain and their body, which results in pretty sudden or jerky movements as well as often splayed legs or odd walking patterns. It can also lead to unbalanced cats that may wobble or sway while walking or standing still. 

Impacts on Cats

Felines with CH will suffer from the imbalance, coordination struggles, and poor or restricted movement like described above when they have cerebellar hypoplasia. But it isn’t the same for every individual cat. CH is classified by three severity levels: mild, moderate, or severe. 

I would consider Champion to have a moderate case of CH and has gotten better with his balance as he has grown up.

Mild can mean a cat needs little to no help for daily life and functions. These pets can still walk, run, or climb but have the difference in walk or head wobble that comes with the condition. It’s just not severe enough to impede them fully. 

Moderate CH indicates a cat that has more noticeable issues with balance or coordination, and can suffer from higher anxiety in new situations or when climbing. Our feline friends with moderate CH can still function, but may need help sometimes. Champion has a problem jumping forward.  He climbs onto our bed.

Severe cerebellar hypoplasia is the highest diagnostic range for this neurological condition. These cats need special-needs help to eat, drink, or go to the bathroom because of struggling to stay upright properly or walk. 

While this is a lot of information and can certainly be pretty scary for folk that have never had to care for a furry friend with this condition, cerebellar hypoplasia in cats can actually be managed in a very high percentage of cases. The disorder will never go away or worsen, and can’t spread to other cats. This means if a family can find out how to best help their individual case of CH, their feline can live a normal lifespan and happy life. 

Living With CH Felines

With all of this information, how do you have a pet with this condition and allow them to thrive so that living a full lifespan is actually possible? In most mild cases, nothing is needed to change. Moderate to severe CH cats can benefit from ease of access to their litter box, food and water places, bedding and comfy spots, and even having other cats too. Many felines with this ailment have enjoyed cuddling with or being guided by another cat that can show them how to truly “be a cat”. 

Obviously it’s hard to truly specify what can be done for cerebellar hypoplasia without knowing the individual case. But owners work with what areas are difficult for their pet to make things easier. Non slip mats or surfaces and even carpeted stairs or climbing areas can be helpful so that cats can use their nails for grips instead of having to truly navigate where they’re walking, as one example.

All in all, many cats that suffer from cerebellar hypoplasia live quite otherwise healthy and long lives when a pet parent is prepared or learns what they can do to help. And it can add quite an interesting aspect to how you interact with your cats at home. I hope this post helps you to understand when others you see online or locally have a feline like this. Cerebellar hypoplasia kitties are just as lovable, spunky, and unique like other cats are that draw in ownership of this animal in droves. They just need some extra knowledge and assistance sometimes to thrive.

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