Extra Love Needed: Meet Princess Charlie

Author’s Note: Many thanks to Charlie’s parents for letting me ask questions.聽

I have to ask, how are Charlie & Queso getting along?聽

She still isn’t a big fan, but she likes to torment him now. Hahahaha. She’ll chase him through the house.

Is she currently on any medications or doing therapy?

She doesn’t need any medication or therapy as of right now, she might in the future…but we can’t be sure.

Have you had to make any changes since she joined the family?

We haven’t really had to change a whole lot in the house for her. We bought bowls that she can eat from, some were too high for her to get into. The litter box was moved from the basement to the main floor for her (for obvious reasons, haha). We also block off the basement stairs just to make sure she won’t get to them.

What is her favorite thing to do?

This is a tough one. I would have to say her favorite thing to do is sleep on the couch. Since she can’t get up on the furniture on her own, we put her up with us for couch time…she loves it. A close second would be terrorizing her cat brother Duncan. Haha.

What would you like to say about CH cats?

CH kitties are amazing little creatures. They’re determined. They’re fierce. And they’re lovable. They deserve a chance at life too, so many get out to sleep just because of their condition. It’s sad. Depending on when the CH kitten is adopted, it might be rough at first. We got Charlie when she was a week old. We had to feed her every few hours and bathe her daily, multiple times some days. The litter training was rough. They need a lot of time and patience, but it all pays off.
I hope this helps get the attention on to CH babies, they have so much love to give, they just need to be given the chance.

Extra Love Needed: Meet Bounce

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

bounce2

Thank you so much for letting me interview you.聽

-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.聽 I was just a baby, so my words still didn’t quite come out right.聽 When daddy found me, though, and asked my name, he understood.聽 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.聽 I bounce and flop around some because I have something called Cerebellar Hypoplasia (or CH for short).聽 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.聽 Some of us just walk a little stiff legged, or high step.聽 Some of us can’t walk at all.聽 I’m somewhere in the middle.聽 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.聽 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.聽 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.聽 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.聽 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.聽 Mostly, though, I just get to run around and get strong and play how I play.聽 It’s a little different, but I still have a lot of fun and do just fine.
bounce1
Did your dad make any adjustments to your home to make sure you don’t hurt yourself?
-Not really.聽 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.聽 They keep a good eye on me though and learned very quickly that even though I can’t jump, I can climb great!聽 Daddy was so funny, the first few times he saw me figure out how to get OFF of the bed or couch.聽 I learned to grab on with my hands and sort of flop my butt to the floor then let go.聽 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.聽 I’m a very independent kitty.
Do you have any fur siblings you live with?
-I sure do!聽 Eden is a very pretty grey kitty, and Ken-Oki and Ryo-Oki are “tuxedo cats”.聽 Eden took a little while to warm up to me, but she’s a super hero to me.聽 She’s so graceful and fast and smart!聽 Now she loves me, and I love her a whole bunch.聽 The Okis are a lot older, they’re 14 now, almost 15.聽 Ken-Oki is the more friendly one, and we will hang out together a little bit sometimes.聽 Ryo is super pretty, but very shy.聽 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.聽 If I could tell people about CH cats, I would tell everyone that CH is NOT contagious.聽 CH cats are generally not helpless at all, unless it is very severe.聽 I would also say that CH cats are just like any other cat, they are just wobbly.聽 They are lovable, sweet, and although physically not quite as capable they seem to be outlandishly clever.聽 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.聽 I’ve found that a Litter Maid litter box works great to fix that last issue though.聽 CH cats make GREAT lap cats, because they are comfortable laying down and leaning against things for support.聽 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!聽 I love to cuddle!聽 I also like eating… a LOT!聽 I use a lot of energy just getting around.聽 With the way I move, I essentially travel twice as far, sometimes more, to get somewhere.聽 It’s also made me super strong though.聽 I even like to go on car rides!聽 Traveling is super duper fun!

Is there anything else you would like to add about yourself?
-About myself, no.聽 I just want to reinforce what daddy said about adopting CH kitties.聽 Don’t walk away from us just because we move a little funny.聽 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.聽 We’re just a little different physically, but we are still wonderful, smart, loving cats who want to share your life and your heart.聽 So please, when looking to adopt a kitty, don’t shun one just because it has a difference.聽 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路e路bel路lar hy路po路pla路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.聽 A cat with CH often falls down and has trouble walking or cannot seem to walk at all.聽 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.聽 Symptoms of CH can usually be seen immediately at birth.

Cerebellar Hypoplasia is most commonly caused by the kitten鈥檚 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鈥檚 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.聽 However, they have a normal life expectancy and are very affectionate, sweet, and loving.聽 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.聽 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聽 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;聽 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 鈥 or the vaccine 鈥 for panleukopenia late in her pregnancy, the developing kittens鈥 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鈥檛 seem to be able to get herself into the right position for anything. If you don鈥檛 notice it at birth, you鈥檒l 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鈥檙e quite capable of getting around like other cats. Moderate CH is a bit more challenging for cats because they can鈥檛 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鈥檛 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鈥檚 cerebellar hypoplasia isn鈥檛 going to get worse over time. It鈥檚 not going to get better, either, but as a cat learns to adapt to the condition it can appear that she鈥檚 improving. Physical therapy and hydrotherapy can help a CH cat to adapt to her disability.

 

5. CH is not contagious

There鈥檚 no reason to fear bringing a CH cat into your home, because your other cats won鈥檛 catch the disease. CH is congenital 鈥 kittens are born with it 鈥 and don鈥檛 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鈥檚 body language, since CH cats don鈥檛 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鈥檚 no reason to be scared of cats with cerebellar hypoplasia. They don鈥檛 suffer, they鈥檙e 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 –聽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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Extra Love Needed: Meet Mika the CH Kitty

Mika sitting pretty

How old are you?
I am about a year and a half old. No one knows my actual age so it has been an estimate. Mommy told the vet that my birthday is Nov 11, 2012 and she picked that date because it was her grandpa’s birthday
Where did your name come from?
I already had my name when Mommy adopted me and she liked the name Mika so she told me I could keep it. I do have a couple of nickname though. I jump around on the bed and Mommy said I looked like a little kangaroo so she started calling me Mika-Moo and then my Uncle Eric started calling me his Moo Bear.
How did you find your forever home?
My mommy was a little sad because she had to send her cat聽to the rainbow bridge. She said that Kiss was almost 17 years old and she missed having a cat in the house. She started looking on Pet Finder. She had been looking for a few days when she came across my listing and watched my video. She continued looking and kept going back to my video. Then she shared my video and asked my Grandma and Uncle Eric if they thought she could handle a special needs cat. They suggested she ask a bunch of questions so she sent an email and started talking to my foster mom who answered all of her questions and she asked about meeting me. They agreed that I would go to Petco for the Pet Rescue NY聽cat adoption day and Mommy would come to meet me. She brought Uncle Eric with her and she saw me and she talked to the other cats and kittens that were there. She even held some of the little baby cats and then came back over to me and talked to me and petted me some more. She knew that I could be iffy about being picked up and held but I let her hold me for a couple of minutes and then she said she wanted to adopt me. She asked if there was any way that they could keep me for an extra week so she could make sure that the apartment was set up for my safety and they said yes. The following week she came and got me and while there were a few bumps in the road I am confident that I have my furrever home.
When were you diagnosed with CH?
In March of 2013 when I was rescued by Pet Rescue NY and they had a veterinarian check me out.聽
Mika & her pink bed
Can you tell us a little bit about what CH is and how it effects you?
Cerebellar Hypoplasia (CH) is a disorder where a part of the brain called the cerebellum doesn’t grow right. It can be caused by an infection during pregnancy or by injury, malnutrition or poisoning during development. It does not progress and while my walking might improve there is no cure. It causes coordination problems and in some cases it can cause seizures.
My case isn’t too severe so I can walk and I’m walking better as my back legs get stronger but they do slide out to the sides on me.聽So far I won’t use a cat box so I use wee wee pads to go to the bathroom. I usually lay down on my side to go to the bathroom but sometimes I stand up when I go and my Mommy gets all excited and tells me how proud she is of me. I peck like a chicken when I eat and can be kind of messy. I don’t like soft cat food so most of my diet is dry food and chicken. I can’t jump so I need help getting on and off of the furniture. Sometimes I pull myself up onto the bed but I usually just ask and Mommy will give me a lift. I stand near the edge of the bed when I want to get down and Mommy helps me. When I know that she is supporting my side I drop my front paws down and kind of slide down and she supports my back end. She said it would be easier if she just put me down but I get mad when she does that because I want to do it. She asked my Uncle Eric about making a ramp for me with sides so I have support and can get on and off of the bed safely and without help and he said he thinks he can do that. I sit with both of my back legs spread out to the sides and my front left paw folds under sometimes at the wrist. It also makes my head wobble which seems to be worse when I get excited.
Did you need to have any medications or therapy to help you?
I haven’t needed any medicine for my condition and the only therapy I have is just walking on my own and Mommy helping me. She moves my back legs when I am on the bed with her and told me that it might help the muscles get stronger and she massages my legs and back for me.
I am on a special diet. I had a problem with loose stools for a while and they had me try a prescription food called Royal Canin Gastro Intestinal Fiber Response which is now mixed with Iams Proactive Health聽Digestive Care and everything has been great.
Do you lean against walls to walk?
Sometimes I do but a lot of times I just take my time and take breaks while walking from one room to another. It helps that we have carpets for me to grab on to.
Are there any surfaces that are a struggle for you to walk on?
We have聽carpet everywhere except the kitchen and bathroom. I don’t do too well on the tiles in the kitchen聽but I do okay on the bathroom tiles, mommy thinks it might be because they are smaller so I can grip onto them better.聽I stay on the carpet most of the time. If I am on the bed I do better on the comforter than on the sheets. The sheets are too slippery for me.
What is your favorite toy to play with?
I love the balls with bells in them but right now my favorite is the ball with feathers on it that hangs from a string on a plastic stick.
How are you doing now?
I am doing pretty good. When I first came home Mommy was led to believe that I might need to be kept confined when she isn’t home so she bought these play pen things and put me in one when she had to go out or at night when she was asleep but now the door to the pen has been removed so I still have that area for my wee wee pads but I have free run of the whole apartment all the time. I’m training mommy and she is coming along pretty good. She is a good employee and she loves me.聽She told me that she understands that just because my body gives me challenges聽over how I do things it doesn’t change that I am a cat with a stubborn independent streak. I have my own bed and lots of blankets and toys and I get to have treats.Mommy always offers me food when she makes things that are okay for me to have. I love chicken and sometimes I like steak. I love cheese and I like broccoli and the stuff inside of egg rolls.聽I wish she would get more cheesecake, that was really good stuff.聽I make mommy laugh almost every day and I get lots of hugs (although I’m not crazy about the kisses). I am very happy and only frustrate mommy sometimes when she can’t figure out what I want. I love that I am treated with love and while I get help when I need it I get to just be a cat. I did feel bad that I am not quick enough to catch the mouse that got into the apartment but mommy got rid of it and took measures to make sure that others don’t come in to my apartment. I can’t share what mommy called the mouse because it wasn’t a nice word. Originally they told mommy that I wouldn’t be able to get onto the furniture but I have proved them wrong. If I really want to I can jump at the bed with my claws out and climb up holding onto the comforter. I can climb onto the couch too but I haven’t done that too much.
Do you live with any fursiblings? If so who?
Right now I don’t have any fursiblings because of our lease but mommy said that if we move she would be open to adopting another kitty so I could have a friend. She is also going to send in a written request to see if the manager people here might consider letting her get me a fursibling.
All tucked in
Is there anything else you or your mom would like to share about CH?
I don’t seem to know that there is anything different about me. I’ll let聽Mommy answer this one…. I have had cats my whole life and had never heard of CH until I saw Mika’s video. At first I felt bad for her and thought it would break my heart to see her struggle just to walk but there was something about her that just drew me in. Sure, she struggles a little but she is the most determined being I have ever known and that encourages me to push ahead with things. I’ve had to make a few little adjustments but nothing major and in return I have this beautiful loving little ball of fur. In the end she just does things differently but she gets them done. Instead of using a litter pan she uses wee wee pads so I never have a mess sitting around for too long. She was cautious about sleeping with me and whenever I got ready for bed she would go to her cat bed like she knew it was bed time. Now she is sleeping with me. She is the only cat I have ever had that doesn’t get under foot when I am cleaning or doing something else. She seems to know that I am doing something and she either goes to her little cat bed or asks to go up on my bed. She startles easier than other cats I’ve had so I make sure to always talk to her before I reach out to pet her if she isn’t looking at me. I don’t know that I can attribute it to CH but she is so gentle and loving. She does hold on when I hold her which has resulted in a few unintentional scratches on my arm but she has never tried to attack me, never raises her paw. She doesn’t ;like to be alone so if I go out she gets really excited when I come home. I don’t work due to my own disability so she is used to having me home. Where I would leave my other cats home if I wanted to spend a night away, I wont do that with Mika, I have my mom or my brother come over and stay with her. The rewards outweigh the minor adjustments. I would tell anyone not to let CH stop them from considering adopting a cat who happens to have it.
Is there a support group that your mom knows of to help people who have cats with CH?
Mom is a member of the CH Kitty Club on both Yahoo and Facebook
I have gotten a lot of information at these sites
This is the pet rescue that found mommy for mehttp://www.ny-petrescue.org/
This is the video of me that made my mommy fall in love with mehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iD_p_orJjek
Me on my one month and one day anniversary

Author’s Note: Many thanks to Mika & her mom for letting me ask lots of questions. Pictures were used with permission. Please visit her on her facebook page – Mike the CH Kitty.聽
This article is a part of the Extra Love Needed theme, please click on the badge below for more articles on pets that need extra love & care.
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