Exotic arrived in the care of the rescue August 21st, 2020 and immediately caught our attention with his unique walk, indicating a neurological issue. The reason for the wobble in this kitten’s stride is an unusual medical condition called cerebellar hypoplasia (also known as CH or as the Wobbly Cat Syndrome).
What is CH/ the Wobbly Cat Syndrome?
CH is a non-progressive and non-contagious developmental condition in which the cerebellum of the brain fails to develop properly. The cerebellum is the portion of the brain that controls fine motor skills, balance, and coordination. In the case of a cat with CH, the underdeveloped cerebellum can impact the mobility of the kitten. This causes the “wobble walk” or the “drunken sailor walk”.
What Causes CH?
CH most commonly occurs when a pregnant cat becomes infected with feline panleukopenia virus and passes the infection to her unborn kittens. The condition may only affect one kitten in a litter or may involve all littermates.
Signs and Symptoms include:
- Wobbly or uncoordinated walking
- Swaying from side to side when trying to walk
- Mild head tremors as well as tremors when they try to focus on doing one thing like playing or eating.
- Likely to stand with their legs far apart
There is no treatment however fully vaccinating your cats against the Panleukopenia Virus is a good start! Because CH is a non-progressive condition, it will not get worse for the kitty. In fact, many CH pet owners report their pets becoming more capable over time as they learn to adapt to their disability. Life expectancy for a kitty with CH is the same as a non-CH kitten (unless there are other health issues in the CH kitty).
Sadly, many CH kitties are needlessly euthanized every year because some shelters won’t adopt out special needs kitties. Since it is an unusual condition, many people are still learning what CH is and that CH kitties are still amazing pets (just ask Exotic’s foster family, he’s stolen their hearts!). CH kitties learn to adapt to their disability and normally live full healthy lives. Their humans just need to provide a little extra love and care.
Things you can do to help your CH kitty:
- Set up a deep and large litter pan for your kitty to help with balance when using the litter box
- Provide a raised food bowl for your CH kitty to help with the wobble caused when lowering the head
- Have carpet or rugs to make walking and gripping the floor easier for your CH kitty
- Make accessing your CH kitty’s favorite spots easy and safe for them with ramps or crash pads made from pillows to soften accidental falls
Written By: Hannah Wilson and Breanna Wright