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Understanding Cerebellar Hypoplasia in Cats

March 28, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 145

I had never heard of cerebellar hypoplasia until I ran across a popular video of a precious cat named Charley. Charley was born with cerebellar hypoplasia, a disorder which causes severe tremors and a wobbly gait, making simple mobility a great challenge for a little cat. I was captivated as I watched Charley go about his daily activities with the confidence and independence of any "normal" cat. Charley doesn't know he's different. He simply does things differently; he has his own normal, his own way of going about his day. Aside from the wobbly legs and swaying body, he is just like every other cat, he purrs, plays, and loves.

Unfortunately some shelters around the country typically euthanize cats diagnosed with cerebellar hypoplasia. They are considered less desirable, due to the misconceptions that these cats will require more care and attention than the average person can invest, or that they are humanely putting the animal out of its misery.

The truth is, cerebellar hypoplasia only affects a cat's mobility, not the capacity to enjoy life. With some home preparation, the care of a cat with this disorder is not much different than caring for a non-affected cat.

Understanding Cerebellar Hypoplasia

Feline cerebellar hypoplasia is a neurological disorder that affects the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls coordination, muscle control, and balance. Affected cats and kittens display jerky, wobbly movements or tremors which greatly affect their mobility. While the condition sounds frightening, it is not contagious or progressive - so it will not get worse as the cat ages, nor does it cause physical pain or suffering. Cats born with the disorder have full cognitive abilities and can live long, healthy and happy lives with some preparation and care from a diligent owner.

What causes Cerebellar Hypoplasia?

A kitten typically develops cerebellar hypoplasia while in utero, after the pregnant cat contracts a bacterial or viral infection while the fetus is still developing. The most common cause is the virus panleukopenia, also known as feline distemper or FVP. It can also be caused by trauma, malnutrition or poisoning during fetal development.

Is Cerebellar Hypoplasia Preventable?

Yes. While the condition is not curable, in most cases it is preventable. Cats who are vaccinated for the panleukopenia virus, the primary cause, will not acquire feline distemper; preventing the development of the disorder in an unborn kitten.

Caring for a Cat with Cerebellar Hypoplasia

Perhaps the best resource for information on how to care for a cat with cerebellar hypoplasia would be from the owners of these special cats. The blog, Life With CH Cats, is a comprehensive resource for those who already own, or are considering adopting a special needs kitty. The blog was created by a devoted mom to two cats affected by the disorder. You will find a wealth of practical information, tips and tricks on how to care and prepare for your special needs cat; everything from choosing the right litter box, to tips for traveling with your cat. The blog also contains a section for owners of affected cats to submit heartwarming stories, and share their knowledge and experiences.

Before making the decision to adopt a cat with cerebellar hypoplasia, do your research. Start with visiting Life With CH Cats, and see if you and your family are up for the rewarding challenge. If you choose to adopt one of these special cats, share your story with whoever will listen and help change the perceptions of these special, loving cats.

About the Author:

Kim W. Traff owns and operates Kitten Smitten, a cat enthusiast web site which provides cat and kitten health and wellness information, videos and photo galleries for the avid cat lover. Kim is also mom to four spoiled house-cats, and spends a great deal of time researching and writing articles about cats. If you are looking for more cat related articles and entertainment, visit You can also find Kitten Smitten on Facebook and Twitter.

Source: EzineArticles
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