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Cerebellar Hypoplasia in Cats

I first became aware of cerebellar hypoplasia about two years ago, when I encountered the video that you will be able to watch below. I have owned cats my entire life but have never encountered a cat who exhibited the behavior that I saw in the video. I was shocked, I was amazed, and I spent a lot of time crying as I watched the video over and over again. Like many cat lovers who have seen the video in question, I wanted to take that baby into my home and love him.

I learned a lot about myself and the people around me from that video of Charley. I learned that the human heart has a capacity to understand and to forgive flaws. I learned that there are still things that we don't yet know, and I learned that a heart of compassion can change the world for a lost soul.

I started to discover a bit more about cerebellar hypoplasia as a result of Charlie's video, and I want to share some of that information with you. Please take the time to watch the video: Charlie might very well change your point of view too!

Charley is a Cat with Cerebellar Hypoplasia

Cats with cerebellar hypoplasia are "normal" kitties with a lot of love to give!

Cats with cerebellar hypoplasia are "normal" kitties with a lot of love to give!

What is Cerebellar Hypoplasia?

Simply put, cerebellar hypoplasia is a neurological disorder that affects the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls coordination and balance. This occurs when an unvaccinated female cat contracts distemper while her kittens are still in her uterus. Distemper damages the cerebellum and the kittens are born with cerebellar hypoplasia.

Cats with cerebellar hypoplasia generally have trouble with their motor skills but can live relatively normal lives.

Gordon also has Cerebellar Hypoplasia

Kitties with Cerebellar Hypoplasia Need Understanding.

For quite some time, cats with cerebellar hypoplasia were put to sleep as soon as the disorder was discovered. As understanding of cerebellar hypoplasia has grown, the kittens are more and more often put up for adoption or kept by their owners. While the disorder is by no means common (and is usually avoidable), there are kittens with this disorder to wind up in shelters.

Human kindness is amazing. They are very often met with a waiting list to take them in, because people have seen the wonderful Charlie.


Living with a Cat with Cerebellar Hypoplasia

While I have never lived with a cat who had cerebellar hypoplasia, I have learned a great deal from researching on the internet and exploring forums. I have considered putting my name on a shelter waiting list, and have come to better understand the limitations of these beautiful and sweet cats.

You must understand that living with a family member or pet who has physical limitations will change your life. You will need to go beyond "kitten proofing" and prepare your home to handle the specific physical needs of these cats. Please consider the following tips and make sure to check out the links below if you have a cat with cerebellar hypoplasia or are considering bringing one into your home!

  • Make Your Home Safe for Your Cat This might mean making sure that there is a cushioned surface under any window that the cat might like to sit in or that there aren't any sharp corners where your cat could get injured if he or she falls.
  • Make the Litterbox and Food Bowls Convenient In our house, the litterboxes are in the basement. This wouldn't work for a cat with cerebellar hypoplasia
  • Be Prepared for Lots of Love! Everything I have heard and experienced says that these cats are remarkably loving. Be prepared for a cat that might demand some extra attention, though they are well worth it!
Kitties with cerebellar hypoplasia can be very happy cats!

Kitties with cerebellar hypoplasia can be very happy cats!

Choosing to Adopt a Cat with Cerebellar Hypoplasia

It's very likely that if you encounter a kitten with cerebellar hypoplasia it is because you were kind enough to take a feral animal into your home, and then discovered that she was pregnant. If, on the other hand, you have learneda bout these wonderful animals and have decided to adopt, you need to make some considerations.

  • Are there other cats in the home? Other cats don't always get along with these special kitties because the cats with cerebellar hypoplasia fall over their buddies.
  • Are you prepared to "kitten proof" your home? Do you have the time and resources to provide a safe environment for your new pet?
  • Are you able to give the animal the attention it deserves? Your special kitty might need special attention. Are you able to give it?
  • Are you prepared to wait? My experience is that shelters rarely have cats with cerebellar hypoplasia. As it is (thankfully) an uncommon ailment and because more and more people are looking to offer these cats good homes, they are sometimes "difficult to find." Are you willing to put your name on a shelter waiting list and to wait for your new addition?
Dogs can also have cerebellar hypoplasia

Dogs can also have cerebellar hypoplasia

Can Other Animals have Cerebellar Hypoplasia?


Cerebellar Hypoplasia can occur in dogs as well, and occurs when a puppy develops an infection while still in the uterus (much the same as with cats). In many cases, the source of the disease is unknown or can also be genetic.

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Breeds that show the genetic form of the disease are: Irish Setters, Airedales, and Chows.

In dogs, the disease appears to be connected to the herpes virus and may develop similarly to cats with distemper.

Cerebellar Hypoplasia may be preventable!

Cerebellar Hypoplasia may be preventable!

How can Cerebellar Hypoplasia be Prevented?

The simpliest answer to this question is: vaccinate your pet. By obtaining proper veterinary care for your pet, you are reducing the risk that your animal will bear a litter of kittens with cerebellar hypoplasia. Even better, have your cat spayed so that she won't bring more unwanted kittens into the world.

Unfortunately things aren't always that simple. There are many, many unwanted (feral and stray) cats who don't have homes. These cats are rarely spayed and almost never vaccinated. A human who really wants to make a difference will become involved with a TNR (trap, neuter, release) program and will make an effort to ensure that these animals are altered and receive their shots. There are low-cost neutering organizations in most major cities that can help you to get this job done.

Another Kitty with Cerebellar Hypoplasia

Kitties with Cerebellar Hypoplasia

  • Moki\'s Story
    Moki is another of the kitties who I found early on in my search. He is like so many cats who are found in shelters by those who are caring for them, and who suddenly realize the amazing discovery they have made. Give Moki a visit!
  • Wobbles The Lighthouse Kitty
    Wobbles has his own Facebook and Myspace pages in addition to his website. His is a really great and heartwarming story and one of the first that I found when doing my research for this article. Take the time to check out his cuteness!
  • Rolling Dog Ranch Animal Sanctuary -- Claire
    Claire's story well and truly touched me. It was from this page that I learned that many able-bodied cats are slow to accept a cat with cerebellar hypoplasia. Very interesting and sweet kitty! Touching story!

Wobbles the Lighthouse Kitty -- Cerebellar Hypoplasia

Resources about Feline Cerebellar Hypoplasia

  • Welcome to the CH Kitty Club
    This is a really great page that I found several years ago but am just now revisiting. This site brings together owners of cats with cerebellar hypoplasia so that they can share stories and advice on how to best care for their special kitties.
    This page offers advice and help for living with a cat who has a disability and covers other disabilities other than just cerebellar hypoplasia. It's definitely worth checking out if you have a cat with this disorder or are considering adopting one!

Pet Forums of Interest

  • Handicapped Pets
    This forum offers a resource for people who are the owners of pets who have a disability, regardless of the species of the animal. I ran into this site in my research and found it to be incredibly helpful! Covers a variety of different disabilities.
  • - It's all about cats cats cats
    The Cat Site offers a wealth of information about cats, cat health and cat breeding. This is an amazing site and there have been several discussions there about Cerebellar Hypoplasia. If you are a cat lover, you need to check out this site!


Karenef on August 01, 2017:

Thank you.

Usama on December 17, 2014:

You all who talk about how the cat should look like it's naltarluy meant to, don't any pf you wear make up or dye your hair, or wear clothes you like? Do you put clothes on your pets? Cats don't give a crap what they look like. And stop being hypocrites. And it's probably not photoshop. People really do dye their cat's fur. It looks to me like you all just go online to critisize others and call them wrong or stupid.Geex she was just trying to share something with you.

Anoud on May 31, 2014:

Has been infected*

Anoud on May 31, 2014:

My cat is infected with the CH in her second month and i lost her this morning

Beverly on November 26, 2013:

I have a 5 year old cat that after reading this site may be part of what is wrong with Dunker my cat. When he was a 6 week old kitten, he was thrown up against the wall and upon realizing he was injured dropped in the river. My daughter saw him struggling and swam in to retrieve him, wrapped him in blankets and kept him at work all day. She brought him home, he was very sick. I bottle fed him shot him up with antibiotics, wrapped him in warm blankets and hoped for the best. He was so weak he couldn't even hold his head up. He came around and I realized something was wrong, he could stand up, walk or hardly even eat. I took him to the vet to find out his back was broke in two places and his neck was cracked, the vet also said stem cell damage don't get attached, well I already was. Broke my heart. A couple years later my daughter was seeing a chiropractor that loved cats, dunker's name came up. She was not allowed by law to see animals so she would see him after hours. Dunker can now stand without falling as much. He still falls over when sitting sometimes. He cannot run, climb, or do some of the things that my other cats can but he is the sweetest chubby little guy so full of love. We have to help him up and down the steps some days. My other cats have took him under their wings bathing and watching out for him. He goes in and out as he pleases. He also returns the taking others under his wing as I have kittens come through. One of my cats actually attacked a dog one time because they were a little rough with dunker. Dunker does not like men in baseball hats, strangers or noise. He will run into every door jam in the hallway trying to get back to our room to hide under the bed. He takes a lot of patience, watching out for him, cleaning up his food behind him, helping up and down the steps and keep ping his balance. He walks worse than the video charley. He prances like a stick show horse all four legs stuck out to keep his balance. But the live you get from him in return and to see him try to play with my other cats is worth every time I've took of running to try to catch him from getting hurt, dropped my stuff to help him from falling down the steps. And one look in those huge eyes full of love, I swear cats flirt. He has outlived what the vet thought and I hope he lives forever.

Kell on February 05, 2013:

Here are some awesome facts about my little Rupert the white and grey shit disturber with CH.

I have owned my prince charming for 6 months now he's almost a year and my friend who found him said he was "drunk" when she found him.

I just found this site last week and it has been a BLESSING!

Rupert is great friends with my Husky and my two other "normal" cats (and by great friends I mean they all tolerate him).

I was lucky in taking him on as a project because he didn't have the menacing kitten issues most young cats come with, thank god.

He isn't vocal nor has he ever meowed in his life! This isn't the norm for CH cats but it is not unheard of.

My Rupert can do stairs as he understands his issues and is very cautious ... as a precaution I have "bumpered" the railings with bamboo table runners (both decorative and effective).

My friend made me weighted boots ... this helps him walk believe it or not in a straighter line. Rupert rips them off when he's had enough and only wears them for about 2 hours a day but those two hours he wears them his legs all go in the right direction (he still doesn't but we take what we can get).

I can leave him home alone but limit his water intake till when I'm home so i can help him get to a potty if need be, he has four litter boxes around the house all with short sides because it takes him longer to get to one and he doesn't have the control.

He didn't like being carried at first because I think it made him dizzy or scared. I find sitting him up on his bum and picking him up from there helps him.

He can't jump up on anything but the Husky doesn't mind letting him climb all over him.

I think he likes to roll because he will do it for hours ... this scared me at first because I thought he would never stop but it's just something he does.

I keep all small things away from his reach because he has choked in the past on items the other cats play with.

All in all he's a pretty handi-capable cat and other than the vet trips and tests trying to figure out what he has his vet bills haven't been more than the other cats.

No kennel in my area will take him in however so he stays at grandmas when i'm out of town and really likes exploring the new area.

Good luck every one with your CH cat!!! I hope my little tips helped

Hannah on January 05, 2013:

Great article! I have had a CH cat named Aspen for six years now. We got her at a shelter where the breeder had taken her as an alternative to being put down. So sad. She is the most loving cat that I've ever had and we haven't had to change anything really. She tried to go downstairs once (in a ranch style house) as a kitten and stumbled partway down and rolled the rest of the way. She was okay, fortunately, but we put up a baby gate just in case. It was soon apparent that we didn't need it though because she won't go anywere near the stairs, and if you carry her she'll give this eerie Siamese howl.

We did have to move the litterbox upstairs but no other problems except for a sensitive stomach when she was a kitten. I wouldn't say the other two cats and the dog like her, but that's only cause she keeps them in their place, lol.

Most people's reactions to her are laughter and then sympathy, but honestly she's as happy as any other cat. She can actually run pretty fast too, it's just when stopping that problems occur. I love this cat so much and she is so sweet. I can't imagine putting a kitten down just because of CH.

Lee Ann Arnold on May 26, 2012:

Well, now I know!!! We found an abandoned feral kitten last week and noticed it couldn't stand or walk without falling over. I couldn't just leave the poor thing so we took it to the vet. She (the vet) said it might have a brain infection and gave us antibiotics and sent us on our way ($104 poorer). We've named the kitten Shadow and I have fallen in love with her. I was really worried that I might have to put her down because of her "issues", she also seems to be partialy blind, but after reading these stories and watching the videos I feel much better. I know it's not going to be easy but at least I know there's hope. Thank you!!!

Bill Michel on May 24, 2012:

We love your website. Would you be interested in exchanging links? Our site is It's a work in progress.

gene on May 18, 2012:

our CH cat is about a year old. he is a lovable black cat with a 1 inch long tail that has one joint that makes it wiggle in a very funny way It looks like it is wiggleing in a circle. my grand daughter 10 named him dobie cat. A ferrel cat took up residence at our house and had five kitten, under my bed , after she moved in . All healthy but Dobie At a month old we took them to vet and he immediately recognized Dobie as a ch cat.He said most vets would put him down. He said that since we were dog and cat and duck lovers he would suggest we keep him. That was not a choice as far as my wife was concerned. The vet said he was as healthy as the rest but would have to have special care.I became attached to him even more than my wife.He cant stand for any time then he falls and rolls over. He can run as fast as any and does not fall until he stops then as soon as he stops he falls and rolls over twice.He had a spell last month and our vet had a hard time treating him but he stayed with it and with antibiotics saved him to the tune of $940.00 but we love him and were glad he was back to health. Still has CH 2 weeks ago he disappeared and was gone for 8 days. 8th day he suddenly appeared and was skinny as a rail We finally figuared he must have crawled under our storage building and had a spell and couldn't find his way out. He is fine now and back to his old self. It was a heart breaker for 8 days.

we love our Dobie cat have 8 others in a large enclosed back yard with a duck pond and one 3 year old mallard duck. The duck plays with all the cats just like he was one of them gene

Donna on May 11, 2012:

I foster cats and kittens for a local rescue group. I am fostering a momma with 5 kittens. Have discovered 2 have CH. Thanks to this site I am feeling better about them finding good forever homes. They are so sweet. Would it be better to adopt them with one of the normal siblings since they are used to them leaning on them all the time?

Ruth on April 30, 2012:

Thank you for sharing,, wonderful :)

My CH kitty on April 28, 2012:

we adopted a 3 month old cat with CH from the Humane Society. We were told he would probably never be able to go up and down stairs, on his second night, with some encouraging, he did it. He is our little super Hero. We later found out Hero is also deaf. He is sweet, funny and does almost everything his brothers do. He can't jump up on things, although he does occasionally make it onto the couch. I would encourage people to adopt a CH pet, they are amazing friends - we can't imagine life without our Hero.

Becki Rizzuti (author) from Indiana, USA on March 31, 2012:

Good to hear, koalauk! I hope she's as good for you as our FIV+ kitties are for us!

koalauk on March 31, 2012:

today we adopted a 7 months old kitten without knowing ch and as I am a veterinary I figured it out as soon as we came home with her which we named her strawberry we are already in love with her and happy to have her in our family

charlotte on March 08, 2012:

Hi I recently adopted my little daisy, she is 2 years old and has cerebellar hypoplasia, she is the most loving and playfully cat I have ever had. We adore her! The information on your website has been a massive help do thank you, after watching charleys

ninelivescats on March 07, 2012:

I had a cat with cerebellar hypoplasia who lived to be almost 21 years old. He was the sweetest most affectionate cat who I miss dearly (he passed away a month ago). I've owned a lot of cats and dogs in my life, but this cat was the most special to me.

Mummy J on February 06, 2012:

We have 3 cats, brother and sister, Sullivan and Tilly and a later addition, Wysiwyg.

Sullivan and Tilly were rescued from a rural construction site, and both were in poor condition. Fleas, ticks,runny eyes and noses and diarrhea.

Despite treatment at the vets Tilly was a needy little thing and desperate to be held or cuddled as close as possible. Eventually we took her to the Vets again who cleaned out her ears-and with that she was a new cat-small, vocal and definitely in charge.

However despite being the most feral and in that sense most able of the cats we had at the time,we noticed she was becoming more and more unsteady-until it was dangerous for her to go out. She would fall off fences, mis time jumps, and fall down the stone steps to the garden.

The Vets had no idea what was wrong and suggested she be put down. We decided she would be a house cat instead and control her environment accordingly, including taking her for walks in the garden on a lead, until she learnt not to jump on the walls. Instead she sat in the sun, on the chairs or in the planting.

That was 9+ years ago.Over the years we had her ears cleaned thinking this may help, and Vets suggested brain surgery and medication, but could not explain what was wrong with her.

But Tilly and her brother are both now 12 and in good health. True she falls over for a pastime, but she is a very loved, happy and beautiful cat-and still in charge!

Wish we had known earlier that such a condition existed and had a name-it would have saved us many anxious moments knowing she wasn't the only feline wonky donkey out there.

jellys mom on January 21, 2012:

my cat jelly jack has this disorder.. i found him outside a bussiness near a busy road when he was 6 wks old.he was starving to death and had been abbondoned by his mother no one near the bussiness wanted him because he was obviously disabled... since taking him in i have learned alot about his desease both from our vet and jelly jack himself... the desease is most appearent when the cats become excited or scared. the 'fits' will come on without warning and last usually until he gives in to it and lets in take its course.. when sitting still their heads bob up and down... it often effects the cats eye sight and depth perception. some cats with severe cases are blind or deaf also.. my cats case is moderate and he has learned to adapt very well.. he does not let his desease stop him from living his life... hes a very determined animal as all of these cats are.

Svetlana on January 17, 2012:

Hi there..i would like to know is it not dangerous for cats with such problem to be neutered and get vaccination aggainst rabbies..any experience is welcome :)

annonomous on January 16, 2012:

I have got to say thankyou- we have a cat who is showing all the symptoms of this, and has cost a fortune at the vet and medications as "let's see if this helps!" I will call first thing in the morning to have my vet check into this! Hopefully we finally have an answer for our loved pet!

Shelly from Dickies Cause 4 Paws on November 23, 2011:

I have two 9 week old CH kittens that are absolutely wonderful. they are in need of a loving family, as I rescued them and now they need homes. Can you help in any way?

Bailey Jo on October 09, 2011:

We just adopted our kitten Codie with cerebellar hypoplasia. He is just like Charley and the best kitten in the world!

crgalko on September 14, 2011:

I have recently started volunteering at a local cat rescue, and have had the privilege of meeting one of these wonderful cats. Charlie is one of the most loving and playful cats I have ever met. He literally lights up a room when he walks (or stumbles) into a room. :) Next summer I will have the privilage to adopt him, and I couldn't be happier. Thanks for this article, it has helped me more understand this disease, and how to help my feline friend :)

lilash84 from TX on August 21, 2011:

Thank you for educating people on this!

Paw-Paw John from Greenville, SC on July 24, 2011:

Excellent Information. I have seen cats with this condition. A rescue group I work with had two of these cats (litter-mates). In these cats, the problem was in the hind quarters. The front legs worked fine, but the back legs would falter, usually causing them to slide sideways. They were very loving cats however, and after a careful search, they were both placed into a wonderful home.

The condition, as I understand it, may manifest itself in many ways. Some cats may be unbalanced altogether. Others may have trouble with the hind legs or the front legs only. Some are able to maintain their balance for longer than others. Overall, observing the cat and understanding the limitations that each condition brings is very important, so you will know best how to assist the cat.

I applaud anyone who gives a home and loving care to these wonderful special kitties.

Nancy on May 13, 2011:

I forgot to mention that she had a seizure when she was 7 months old and she is now 3 and she's not had a seizure (that I have seen) since that time, although I have noticed symptoms such as urinating on herself because she was obviously too weak to walk. She does walk up and down the stairs.

I also have another cat/kitten which I adopted so that my siamese could have a "playmate"...well needless to say that the kitty is two times the size of the siamese and the kitty is only 8 months old...he is a bit rough and knocks her down when he's playing. I'm afraid that he will hurt her, but I know he's just being a kitty.

Nancy on May 13, 2011:

My siamease has CH and unfortunately she develops secondary infections which wipes her out. She sleeps all the time, which the vet says its the only thing which makes her feel "comfortable". After watching videos of other cats with CH, they are so playful and very active to say the least. What's the difference here people? Can someone offer me any advice? I respect my vet, but something else is going on.


Poppie on April 28, 2011:

Poppie, the star, the action hero with Cerebellar Hypoplasia!

You thought he just slept all day. He has a story to tell that will benefit other cats that suffer from his special problem.

This is the link to Poppie's YouTube Movie in HD quality with a great soundtrack (turn on your loudspeakers):

Poppie the Movie - An Epic Journey Through Life - The Cat From Afghanistan

Алевтина on March 03, 2011:

I live in Russia. c?????? for the information on this illness!!! I at last have understood that than our favourite suffers. I am sorry if wrong transfer Has learned about illness through video on ???? and has translated this site through Thanks translit ??????? for the information!!!! I am very grateful! I will make the house even more convenient and ?????????? for our cat. And it is our darling Chernysh)))) withCerebellarHypoplasia/1071.html withCerebellarHypoplasia/1071.html

Shirley Berry on February 26, 2011:

Wally Weeble came to us with his sister Gracie, but she "crossed over the rainbow bridge." If Wally is handicapped, he doesn't know it. He asks for help when he needs it, like getting on my bed to sleep with me and awaken me each morning with licking on my head. I wouldn't trade him for the world.

Jess on February 22, 2011:

I found this really informative. I have a year+ old cat named Mo with this disorder and cant tell you how many days I spent heartbroken because I just wanted to help him. He's very well adjusted to his life style and I do everything to make him happy :)

He naturally doesn't purr but its really cute to hear him try, and otherwise he's very vocal and loving to our 6 month old kitten.

Bandit-36 on February 06, 2011:

I adopted a kitty w CH about 11years ago. My little Bandit is a good and sweet kitty that finds a way to get to the perch she wants. She looks a little funny sometimes, but I wouldn't trade her for anything!

LMG on January 01, 2011:

A long time ago, we found this little tiny kitten in a box on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. At the time he was only a couple of weeks old and his eyes were still closed.

He is now 19 years old and doing just as good as ever... though is getting messier when eating and falls a little more than he used too, but the other cats in our house still love him the same. He still very meticulous about his cleanliness and the cleanliness of all the cats in the house.

He hates special treatment. If he falls over or has an unsuccessful jump onto the couch and you try to help him he gets embarrassed. It is so cute though, you just want to pick him up at that moment and kiss his boo boos, all while he acts like he rather no one saw. How he acts when he is embarrassed is adorable, too, so the poor kitty can't win.

We had other cats at the time we found him and they gave him tons of affection, one of which was his best friend and they were inseparable. He has out lived them all and took it really hard each time one passed away to the point that he would go on a water and food strike. We brought new kitties into the house to keep him company after his best friend passed two years ago. He loves to follow them around and watch them play and happily joins the cat pile for a nap.

He loves to sleep under my arm (similating the pressure of a cat sleeping on top of him) and loves it when I bump my forehead up against his.

Out of all our cats, he is the best hunter. I don't know how he does it, but you wouldn't think he would be able to catch anything with his coordination, attention-getting walk and lack of depth perception. But he loves hanging out in the backyard and I can't deny he that.

Dr. JISANA on December 09, 2010:

Thanks for a gud share,lovely presentation nd informativ too

Deloris Goad on November 19, 2010:

Recently I had a kitten sat off at our door. At first I thought it might have rabies because of the wobbling. When we took her to the vet they said she had CH. The vet said we could feel sorry for her or find her amuzing we feel both. I have had cats all my life and I never knew anything like this existed.

Tiza7 from Texas on October 31, 2010:

What an informative article. I've never heard of this before, and I've had cats all my life. Right now we have 5 cats. Two are elderly.

Charley looks like he's happy, though, and a sweet kitty.

kittymom on October 24, 2010:

I'm not a stranger to kitties with special needs since I adopted a blind kitten 4 years ago and I've been fostering for about 5 years now but this summer was a new experience for me. On July 6th I was asked to come in and foster kittens that were very sick and since I'm a nurse they thought I would be the only one who could save them. One died before I got there and the other two were very sick and their temps were dropping. I held them until 3 am and then put a pet heating pad under their bed that night. Luckily they made it thru the night. The sickest one I named Edelweiss cause she weighed only 10 ounces and was primarily white. In the Sound of Music, Edelweiss is the name of a small white flower that blooms in winter amidst the snow in the Austrian Alps. I thought that would be a nice strong name for her. I named her sister Lilyput (a name I liked from a kids dragon movie I saw many years ago).

I had to syringe feed her and give subcutaneous fluids to Edelweiss for 7 days before she would eat on her own. Her sister was much stronger and could eat on her own just a little weak from being sick. There was about a pound difference in size between the two. Finally she started eating on her own. Throughout it all she was so sweet and would always drag her little body to the litter box, use it and then go back to sleep on the heating pad bed. At first, the vet thought they had a bad upper respiratory infection and also treated an eye infection, but a couple weeks after she was recovered I started to notice a wobbly gait(walk). So I suspected distemper. The vet confirmed my suspicions.

I had a foster kitten a couple of years ago with the wobbly gait after being sick and discovered the same diagnosis but the kitten recovered and the wobbly gait was barely noticeable by the time he went up for adoption.

Edelweiss had been much more sick and not only did she have the wobbly gait but also was falling over. It didn't keep her down though and she would run and play with her sister and my two cats. Just recently I decided to get her spayed and while talking to the vet I reminded him of her condition and that is when he uttered the words "cerebellar hypoplasia". I had never heard that diagnosis before and now have discovered (on line) the true definition. I knew she had neurological deficits due to the distemper just didn't know it actually had a name.

I've been so worried about putting her up for adoption and finding her the right home that would understand her needs and never judge her or turn her away and above all never allow her to get harmed. So after a long discussion with the manager of the shelter I foster for, I decided the best thing to do was to adopt her.

Even though this pushes me into the category of "crazy cat lady" - this will make #5! It is more important that I give her the best life possible rather than worry about people judging me.

I started off adopting two boy cats 11 years ago and figured they would keep each other company while I work, then 4 years ago I was contacted by a volunteer about a blind kitten in a barn and adopted her, then almost 2 years ago kept a foster kitten who had such a bad eye infection that it took 3 mos to treat her and save her eye but because of that she doesn't like to be held so she was deemed unadoptable. I knew how sweet she really was and follows me all over the house so I adopted her too. Now the final chapter of my "special needs" babies is my new addition of Edelweiss.

I agree with all of you about how sweet she is and follows me as well but loves to play too. Now I can sleep soundly at night knowing she is well loved and no one will ever hurt her. I guess I'm a new member of this wonderful society of people that care for CH kitties. Thanks for letting me know I'm not alone out there and there are others who care just as much as I do.

LC on October 21, 2010:

I've had a CH cat for 3 years now... She was previously adopted as a kitten, but returned months later - probably due to her CH. And while that makes me very sad, to think that someone could possibly return such s sweetheart of a cat, I'm also kinda glad because now she's mine :) I wouldn't trade her for the world.

But I have to admit I was worried when I first got her, because I didn't really know what CH was... I thought her wobbles were from being locked up in a cage at the pound! But after lots of research from sites & blogs like this, I felt a lot better knowing she was just a clumsy cat that has a normal life expectancy. But even if she didn't, I wouldn't love her any less! She's the most affectionate little thing... Follows me wherever I go, and waits for me to come home from work every day.

Oh but a couple bits of info - these cats really should be indoor only (well I think ALL cats should be, but that's just me), and shouldn't be declawed... My cat uses her claws for balance a lot of the time. Also, is it just me, or are these cats more intelligent & inquisitive than normal??

I think my cat makes up for her lack of balance with smarts!

Oh and she also does this really cute thing were she'll meow at bugs that get out of her reach (which is a lot of the time)... I could go on & on! :)

Juie on September 28, 2010:

My lucky is 7 years old now and lives a happy life.. I love him to death and can't even imagine putting him down..It was obvious from birth that he was not normal, but he has developed normaly and seems to be pretty smart...He can't jump at all, but gets on things by climbing with his claws..Having a cat with CH is challenging some times cause they tend to make a mess of things, but they are worth it... Lucky is the most affectinate cat ever, even with strangers and new animals.His brother junior is affected too, but hes pretty close to normal he just has some issues with jumping...Their mom was a 6 months old stray and i got the surprise to see that she was already pregnant when i brought her in and the vet thinks she had panleukopenia... Only 2 kittens survived, but i love them both really much...

Courtney on August 22, 2010:

My kitten Millie has CH. She is now almost 5 months old and she was originally diagnosed 2 weeks after birth. She refused to feed from her mother, struggled to walk and progressed atleast 2 weeks behind the other 3 of the litter.

Now she's the most loving pet I have ever owned. She tends to be reserved towards new people but once she trusts you she never leaves your side. It was a lot of effort looking after her for the first few months she was born but it was so worth it.

Her mother Daisy was vaccinated and had regular check ups so Millie is just unfortunate to have been born with HC but I wouldn't change anything about her.

She tends to hop instead of walk and her head wobbles when shes sitting still but I count myself lucky to have such a special and unique cat.

worriedcatlovaaa on August 02, 2010:

kay.. well one of my cats (she's very young herself) had a litter of a couple of kittens, its been maybe 3 weeks or so and one of them has CH, im so worried about it i've really been reading into it, and i can't help but feel bad for it when its laying on the ground flopping around meowing, i heard they aren't in pain, but i still feel bad for it. can anyone tell me if it's going to get better, and hopefully be able to "walk" around?

Rebecca on April 05, 2010:

Last August I was at my friends cottage and rescued a 3 week old kitten out of a bucket at a farm. I know it was too early, but the farmer was going to kill the litter, and I couldn't leave her.

I've never owned my own kitten before, and because she was so young I thought the fact that she couldn't walk was normal.

Once she was about a month and a half old I took her to the vet for shots and a check up. The vet told me she had cerebellar hypoplasia, and even now everytime I bring her to the cat clinic I go to for her, there is a student waiting to watch her walk.

Logan doesn't have CH as bad as Charley does in the video, but I do have to place a box beside my bed so she can get onto it and she often falls over or has to dig her claws into my couch to get up.

She loves all other animals, especially the bunny my house mates and I adopted, often chasing it around the house to rub her face on her.

The other cats are patient with her, but I believe they find her annoying. This could just be because she's a kitten and very huper, but they will jump onto tables or counters where she can't reach them.

When it comes to strangers Logan is very unfriendly, probably because she's a little more defensive due to her condition. However with me and my house mates she's very affectionate and will even follow us around the house until we pay attention to her.

Logan has been a lot harder to care for because of her confition but I would never trade her for a different cat. She has made my life so much brighter just by being in it and I always have her there to comfort me when I'm upset or stressed out.

Becki Rizzuti (author) from Indiana, USA on February 21, 2010:

It's okay Matt. Thanks!

Dave Smith from Michigan on February 21, 2010:

Great job, I liked the videos. I don't leave the best comments.

nightbear on December 09, 2009:

What an excellent hub, wonderful information and beautiful stories. Loved all the videos. Great job.

pennyhowington from Mesa, AZ on December 09, 2009:

I have never heard of CH! Thank you for the great article!

Cindy Powell on December 08, 2009:

I brought eight month old Andy home Christmas eve 2002. Therefore I have lived with a kitty with CH for seven years. If you have questions please e-mail me at the address above. Please put "cerebellar hypoplasia" in the subject line so I don't delete your e-mail as spam. Thank you, and Happy Holidays to those of you who also love animals with CH!

Jennifer D. from Canada on December 05, 2009:

I've known several cats that were cerebellar having worked at a large vet school teaching hospital. They were delightful to know, and everyone loved them.

Most were owned by a veterinary anesthesiologist and two did not live very long, despite having been given a great home. They are very much special needs animals.

The story of Andy is touching: a CH, toxo *and* cryptorchid?? POOR GUY!

Thanks for a great hub about wonderful creatures. Bravo!

Cindy Powell on December 05, 2009:


On December 17, 2002, the animal welfare officers were summoned to pick up an “injured” cat. The eight month old domestic short hair white with gray tabby markings male had wandered into a dog house, in search of food and shelter. The dogs alerted their owner to the presence of this wobbly intruder by barking.

This very sweet stray kitten was taken to the medical staff at the animal shelter, who immediately recognized that the kitten was in fact not injured, but

neurologically damaged. During the five day stray period, nobody came to the shelter to claim ownership of this affectionate kitten, who would wobble up to the front of his kennel, rub his head against the bars, stick out a limp front paw and loudly purr whenever a person would approach.

Every day since this kitten was brought into the shelter, I had gone into the medical clinic where he had remained, to admire and pet this very sweet soul. I was

amazed that such a vulnerable kitten, with such poor balance, had survived as a stray. The kitten certainly had a strong determination to live, and I was extremely

enamored with him.

On December 24, I removed the kitten from his kennel, and carried him to one of the visiting rooms. He ran around the room, his front legs limp, and his back

legs bent forward 90 degrees, in an uncoordinated zigzag pattern. I returned the kitten to his kennel and promptly approached my supervisor, who granted me permission to adopt this delightful kitten.

My daughter Brynn picked me and my new kitten up at the end of my shift on this joyous Christmas Eve. Brynn asked me what I had planned to name the kitten, and when I could not quickly determine a name for him, she recommended

that I call him “Andy”, after my hero, Denver Broncos running back #38 Mike Anderson. Brynn’s suggestion was wonderful!

Upon Andy’s initial examination, the veterinarian quickly determined that Andy has cerebellar hypoplasia, permanent damage to the cerebellum, the part of the brain that is used for coordination and balance. CH occurs when a feral, stray or unvaccinated mother has distemper while her unborn kittens are in her uterus. Though there is no cure for CH, CH cats have a normal life expectancy, and can

lead happy lives.

I learned from the blood work drawn during Andy’s veterinary exam that Andy also had toxoplasmosis, another virus that can result in neurological damage, and crypt orchid, a condition where Andy’s testicles did not descend into hisscrotum. After I treated Andy with a high dose of antibiotics twice a day for 28 consecutive days, follow up blood work confirmed that Andy no longer hadtoxoplasmosis. Shortly thereafter, Andy endured a complicated neuter, to locate his undescended testicles, which required two large incisions and suturing.

Andy turned two years old in April 2004, and he has inspired me since the very first day that we met. The first two months that Andy was in my home, I found many small scabs, obviously healed puncture wounds from being attacked by other animals while he was a stray, throughout his body while petting him. Yet to this day, Andy immediately likes every dog or other cat that he has encountered.

Andy lies on his side most of the time. Though Andy is only able to maintain a sitting position very briefly before falling to one side, Andy has never eliminated outside of the litter box. I have observed a clumsy Andy struggle to get into the box, lean into the wall for support, awkwardly lift his bottom in order to use the litter box.

Whenever I hold an object that interests Andy toward him, Andy’s body moves around in a complete circle, rather than directly toward the object, in an attempt to obtain the object. Andy loves cat toys, and plays with toys for a long time while lying on his side.

Because Andy’s “brothers”, Foster, a longhair tuxedo, and Oliver, a short hair orange tabby, spend a lot of time in the window sills, looking outdoors, I assure

that Andy has equal opportunity to look outside, by placing him in a high rimmed cat bed on a chair by the low living room window, or storm doors. The high sides of the cat bed provide sitting support for Andy, and he spends many hours admiringthe squirrels, birds and neighborhood stray cats that I feed in our yard.

Andy’s head tremors while he eats, and much of his food ends up on the floor. However, Andy maintains a voracious appetite. I’m certain that Andy could

not find enough food while he was a stray, competing with able-bodied strays for whatever scraps were available.

When I was at my chiropractor for one of my regular adjustments, I spotted the book, “Chicken Soup for the Chiropractic Soul”. My chiropractor agreed to allow me to borrow the book, and I was drawn to the stories about how chiropractic helps animals.

On my next visit, I asked my chiropractor if he would be willing to adjust Andy, and he graciously agreed to treat Andy at no cost. Andy’s condition improves after every adjustment. Andy’s ambulating posture has become more upright, and Andy has begun to sit for longer periods of time without the wall for support.

My chiropractor is impressed that Andy silently lies on the table throughout his adjustments. In addition, Andy silently lies in his carrier while being transported to and from the chiropractor’s.

When I first brought Andy home, my mother stated that I was “crazy” for doing so. However, Andy has become my mother’s favorite of my three cats. Whenever my mother comes over, Andy quickly approaches her, falls to one side,

and loudly purrs while she pets him.

Whenever friends come over and observe Andy’s mobility challenges, the common response is, “Poor thing!”. I assure them that they need not feel sorry for

Andy, as he is truly the happiest cat that I have ever encountered.I firmly believe that Andy and I were destined to be together. Professionally, I worked with people with disabilities for over twenty years, and therefore, Andy’s

disabilities were not a challenge to me. Possessing expertise in accessibility and adapting the environment has assured independence and quality of life for Andy. Whenever I have brought Andy to the animal shelter for visits with staff, who admired Andy during his stray period there, they state that Andy indeed“found the right home”.

Becki Rizzuti (author) from Indiana, USA on December 05, 2009:

Cindy, I've posted your links to Tagfoot! Great reading, thanks for sharing Andy!

Cindy Powell on December 05, 2009:

More information: about my cat Andy, who has cerebellar hypoplasia:

My Cerebellar Hypoplasia Cat, Andy

Well Adjusted Andy

Cats with shared ailment spark owners' online bond

American and Italian Andy's - Cerebellar Hypoplasia

Becki Rizzuti (author) from Indiana, USA on October 30, 2009:

Walwyn, best as I understand it it gets better as the cat ages. I did have a video that addresses exercises, but I'm not sure how effective it will be. Let me know if you need me to add it to the hub (provided that I put it up on Tagfoot initially!).

walwyn from Toronto on October 30, 2009:

Hi all about a year ago I rescued a kitten no more than 3 to 4 weeks old the month seemed to keep an eye on him but he was only half the size of his brothers and sisters, then we saw how he walked falling over about 15 times in one minute We had thought that a stray dog or racoon had gotten him so we took him to the vets were we found out that he had CEREBELLAR HYPOPLASIA. I was wondering if there is some time of excersie that I can do with him to improve his walking. He is the perfect cat and we also got another kitten (healthy) the two are are completely best friends cannot be seperated for a day.

Raggits on August 09, 2009:

Great informative hub! I've had cats most of my life but have never seen anything like this. But I'm one who has my 'babies' vaccinated. CH kitties could be hilarious when you're down too. They have so much love to give. Thanks So Much. :)

Tracy on August 08, 2009:

I have a foster cat named Tinkerbelle with CH. She is very very loving and beautiful. This is a great site and explained CH cats wonderfully.



Camp Kitty

Tracy on August 08, 2009:

I have a foster cat named Tinkerbelle with CH. She is very very loving and beautiful. This is a great site and explained wonderfully.



Camp Kitty

Becki Rizzuti (author) from Indiana, USA on May 11, 2009:

I do both ;)

Whikat on May 10, 2009:

Charlie is so loveable! I think Gordon was adorable too! You just don't know whether to laugh or cry watching these cuties.

Becki Rizzuti (author) from Indiana, USA on May 10, 2009:

Thanks Whikat! I just loved that first video of Charley! :)

Whikat on May 10, 2009:

Thank you for all the wonderful and detailed information. The pics and videos are just adorable. I don't see these cute creatures as handicapped they look like special little, lovable cats. Good informative hub E.M :-)

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