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What is Cerebellar Hypoplasia?

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Never heard of Cerebellar Hypoplasia before??  That’s okay, you’re not alone. Many people aren’t aware of this condition and I only recently learned about it after a friend adopted two little kittens with the disease. When I saw them my heart grew so big it almost burst out of my chest. I instantly wanted to know more.

Feline Cerebellar Hypoplasia (CH) is a developmental brain disorder that causes a cat’s cerebellum to be smaller than normal. As this is the part of the brain that controls motor function, felines with this disease are quite impaired when it comes to activities like walking, eating, jumping and so on.  CH can be caused by a few different factors while the cats are developing in the womb. The first group of factors involves external conditions affecting the mother, such as malnutrition or injury. The disorder can also result from a viral infection called panleukopenia, also occurring in utero. Finally, some believe that CH can be caused by improper breeding.

So now that we understand the causes, what exactly does a furball with CH look like?? You can tell pretty quickly by looking at these cuties that they’re different. They stumble around when they walk and even wobble their heads back and forth while gathering visual information. They fall down a lot and have troubles getting to where they want to go in an orderly manner.

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Cerebellar Hypoplasia isn’t overly well known though more information is becoming available. I’ve read many articles that stress the importance of understanding that these cats need just as much love as any others out there. They have a normal life expectancy and the disease isn’t contagious nor will it worsen over time. If anything, their ability to adapt and understand their surroundings increases as they age. A lot of cats with CH are being euthanized because many shelters won’t take them and many people won’t adopt them out of fear of the disease and a lack of understanding. Please consider helping one of these babies out - what they lack in movement they make up for in personality. These kittens are so sweet and loving and provide endless giggles. It’s important to understand that these cats don’t feel any different from other cats - they don’t realize they’re struggling and are as happy as can be. They’re not in pain or “sick”. Take just one minute to watch them walk across the room and you’ll feel such a proud sense of accomplishment for them as they stumble, fall, get back up and then do it again. These cats are truly remarkable in spirit and determination. So, if you’re toying with the idea that you may want to adopt a CH cat to give them a forever home, please consider these important points:

  1. Do your research and read up on other websites because, hey, I’m just a CH cat-crazed fan and not a certified expert.

  2. Talk to your local veterinarians and animal shelters first to see what they know about it.

  3. You must be patient and present. These cats need lots of help, reinforcement and stability. They will do better and flourish more with a constant provider and someone who has a lot of spare time to help them with any extra needs they may have.

Thank you for reading and I hope you’ve learned something new and are eager to share so we can spread awareness of these little bundles of joy.

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