Extra Love Needed: Meet Bounce

Author’s Note: Many thanks to Bounce & her caretaker. 🙂 If you are interested in reading more abut CH Cats, I have included two articles at the bottom of the interview.

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Thank you so much for letting me interview you. 

-My pleasure! I love talking with all my friends, especially if they are snuggling me!


First, where did your name come from?
-At first, the wonderful people at Best Friend’s Animal Sanctuary called me “Blip”, which was because I think they just didn’t quite understand me.  I was just a baby, so my words still didn’t quite come out right.  When daddy found me, though, and asked my name, he understood.  He’s had kitties for a loooooong time. (He’s old, you know)
I have the name “Bounce”, though, because I don’t move quite right.  I bounce and flop around some because I have something called Cerebellar Hypoplasia (or CH for short).  It varies in severity with different kitties, but basically the Cerebellum didn’t develop quite right, so it seems like we CH kitties are drunk all the time.  Some of us just walk a little stiff legged, or high step.  Some of us can’t walk at all.  I’m somewhere in the middle.  But I still get around just fine and use the kitty box okay… most of the time.
How did you come to live with your dad?
-Well, my daddy and mommy came to Best Friends Adoption Center looking for a calico, but as soon as daddy saw me, he fell in love and took me up to the counter to adopt me.  I thought that was funny, because he wasn’t supposed to do that. He was supposed to have the really awesome helpers there get me out of the little house and bring me up.
Do you do any therapy to help your balance?
-Not specifically.  Sometimes daddy or someone will give me a treat, and because I can’t really keep my head steady sometimes, it’s hard to pick up.  When that happens, the figured out that if they just put a couple fingers on the back of my head and neck, I’m able to get the treats a lot easier.  I also fall over a lot more when I get excited, so when that happens, they just talk to me or stop me for a second and calm me down.  Mostly, though, I just get to run around and get strong and play how I play.  It’s a little different, but I still have a lot of fun and do just fine.
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Did your dad make any adjustments to your home to make sure you don’t hurt yourself?
-Not really.  A few little things, like making sure I don’t get by the stairs by shutting that door, and moving some of the harder things that I could bonk my head against if I’m trying to run, but otherwise I mostly just flop my sides against the walls and stuff.  They keep a good eye on me though and learned very quickly that even though I can’t jump, I can climb great!  Daddy was so funny, the first few times he saw me figure out how to get OFF of the bed or couch.  I learned to grab on with my hands and sort of flop my butt to the floor then let go.  I know they love me a lot and will always make sure I’m okay, even if I get huffy and grumpy when they try to help me.  I’m a very independent kitty.
Do you have any fur siblings you live with?
-I sure do!  Eden is a very pretty grey kitty, and Ken-Oki and Ryo-Oki are “tuxedo cats”.  Eden took a little while to warm up to me, but she’s a super hero to me.  She’s so graceful and fast and smart!  Now she loves me, and I love her a whole bunch.  The Okis are a lot older, they’re 14 now, almost 15.  Ken-Oki is the more friendly one, and we will hang out together a little bit sometimes.  Ryo is super pretty, but very shy.  She’s really nice, but we don’t interact a whole lot.

What would you or your dad like to tell people about ch?
Hi everyone, James here now.  If I could tell people about CH cats, I would tell everyone that CH is NOT contagious.  CH cats are generally not helpless at all, unless it is very severe.  I would also say that CH cats are just like any other cat, they are just wobbly.  They are lovable, sweet, and although physically not quite as capable they seem to be outlandishly clever.  There are a couple concessions one needs to make with CH cats, such as making sure that they can eat and drink okay, and occasionally giving them a bath, if they fall into the litter box incorrectly.  I’ve found that a Litter Maid litter box works great to fix that last issue though.  CH cats make GREAT lap cats, because they are comfortable laying down and leaning against things for support.  Most importantly though, they just want to be loved and have a forever home with people who care about them, just like every other kitty out there.

What is your favorite thing to do?
-Cuddle!  I love to cuddle!  I also like eating… a LOT!  I use a lot of energy just getting around.  With the way I move, I essentially travel twice as far, sometimes more, to get somewhere.  It’s also made me super strong though.  I even like to go on car rides!  Traveling is super duper fun!

Is there anything else you would like to add about yourself?
-About myself, no.  I just want to reinforce what daddy said about adopting CH kitties.  Don’t walk away from us just because we move a little funny.  We are an adventure unto ourselves, as we don’t know where we are going all the time, and when we play we don’t really have any idea where our toys are going to end up.  We’re just a little different physically, but we are still wonderful, smart, loving cats who want to share your life and your heart.  So please, when looking to adopt a kitty, don’t shun one just because it has a difference.  Just because a kitty might be missing an eye or a leg or is clumsy or deaf, doesn’t mean it doesn’t still have a heart and a lot of love to give you.

What is Cerebellar Hypoplasia?

Cerebellar Hypoplasia (cer·e·bel·lar hy·po·pla·sia) is a disorder found in cats and dogs which causes jerky movements, tremors, and generally uncoordinated motion, just like ataxic cerebral palsy in humans.  A cat with CH often falls down and has trouble walking or cannot seem to walk at all.  CH in cats is non-progressive, meaning it does not get worse with age.

Cerebellar Hypoplasia occurs when the cerebellum, the part of the brain which controls fine motor skills and coordination, is not completely mature at birth.  Symptoms of CH can usually be seen immediately at birth.

Cerebellar Hypoplasia is most commonly caused by the kitten’s mother contracting the Panleukopenia virus while pregnant. If the mother passes on the virus during the end of pregnancy, the kittens can be born with CH. Kittens with CH are not infected with or carriers of the Panleukopenia virus, it has only stunted their cerebellum’s growth while in the womb. Cerebellar Hypoplasia can also occur if a trauma, including malnutrition, occurs to the kittens while in the womb.

Cats with Cerebellar Hypoplasia are often euthanized, as people misunderstand the condition as being painful and/or contagious.  However, they have a normal life expectancy and are very affectionate, sweet, and loving.  They return the extra care they need with an intense love for and bond with their adoptive families.

The Truth About CH Cats

At this time, many veterinary and rescue professionals are still unaware of CH.  Many CH cats are needlessly euthanized before given a chance at a proper diagnosis and life, making it harder for awareness about the condition to grow.

Cats with CH:

  • Are not in any pain
  • Are not contagious
  • Have a normal life expectancy
  • Live happy, healthy lives
  • Learn to adapt their abilities and compensate over  time
  • Can be spayed/neutered safely
  • Need to be indoor-only & should never be declawed
  • May require no extra care, or a great deal of extra care, depending on their severity
  • Can be more prone to accident-related injuries, like chipped teeth or broken nails

 

Severity Levels of CH Cats

Mild

Cats with mild CH are very capable and require little to no extra care.

Symptoms:

  • Unusual gait (high step or waddle)
  • Occasional balance loss
  • May have subtle head tremors when excited or stressed

Abilities:

  • Walk
  • Run
  • Jump
  • Stairs

Special Care:

  • Cannot live outdoors
  • May prefer a modified litter box with high sides
  • Prefer carpet or rugs, but not a necessity

 

Moderate

Cats with moderate CH can get around on their own, but one end of their body may appear to be doing something else than the other end.

Symptoms:

  • Walk with legs splayed in a wide stance
  • Frequent balance loss, falls
  • Noticeable head tremors, especially when excited or stressed

Abilities:

  • Walk short distances
  • Expert climbers

Special Care:

  • Cannot live outdoors
  • Prefer a modified litter box with high sides to support themselves against; can be messier than non-CH cats
  • Have an easier time balancing on carpet or rugs
  • Raised food & water dishes
  • Modified furniture to protect them from getting hurt when they fall (e.g. adding bumpers)

Severe

Cats with severe CH cannot walk on their own and require a great deal of special care.

Symptoms:

  • Cannot walk or stand
  • Flip and Flop to get around
  • Constant head tremors

Abilities:

  • Expert climbers

Special Care:

  • Cannot live outdoors
  • May need help using the litter box;  prefer a modified litter box with high sides or pee-pee pads
  • Prefer carpet to help grip and propel themselves forward
  • May need help getting set up at their food dish
  • Modified furniture to protect them from getting hurt when they fall (e.g. adding bumpers)
  • Are ideal candidates for wheelchairs, which can help improve mobility and coordination

7 Things You Should Know About Cerebellar Hypoplasia

1. CH arises because of exposure to a virus or prenatal trauma

If a pregnant cat is exposed to the virus — or the vaccine — for panleukopenia late in her pregnancy, the developing kittens’ brains can be affected. But not every kitten in a panleukopenia-exposed litter will develop CH. The condition can also be caused by prenatal trauma, including malnutrition.

2. Kittens are born with the condition

You may be able to see right away that a kitten has CH because she doesn’t seem to be able to get herself into the right position for anything. If you don’t notice it at birth, you’ll certainly notice something is amiss once the kittens start crawling and walking around.

3. There are different levels of severity

Cats with mild CH have few symptoms. They may have a slightly waddling gait, but they’re quite capable of getting around like other cats. Moderate CH is a bit more challenging for cats because they can’t seem to get their whole body to work together sometimes, and they tend to have a splayed walk. When stressed, they can develop head tremors or have more difficulty getting around. Cats with severe CH need a lot of special care: They typically can’t walk on their own, have almost constant head tremors, and flip and flop to get around.

4. CH is not a progressive condition

A cat’s cerebellar hypoplasia isn’t going to get worse over time. It’s not going to get better, either, but as a cat learns to adapt to the condition it can appear that she’s improving. Physical therapy and hydrotherapy can help a CH cat to adapt to her disability.

 

5. CH is not contagious

There’s no reason to fear bringing a CH cat into your home, because your other cats won’t catch the disease. CH is congenital — kittens are born with it — and don’t acquire it later in life.

6. CH cats can live with non-CH cats

It may take a little while for a non-CH cat to get used to a CH cat’s body language, since CH cats don’t move like ordinary cats, but CH kitties can be integrated into a household just like any other cats.

7. CH cats have a normal life expectancy

Cerebellar hypoplasia is not a life-shortening condition. Although their lack of coordination can increase their risk of injuries, it does not predispose them to any other illnesses.

There’s no reason to be scared of cats with cerebellar hypoplasia. They don’t suffer, they’re not in pain, and they love and purr just as much as ordinary cats.


If you are interested in adopting a ch cat, please visit – http://chcat.org/

This article is a part of the extra love needed theme, for more interviews with pets that need extra love and care, please click on the below badge.

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