A Fall From Grace

By admin on August 26, 2015

A Fall from Grace – A cautionary tale….

We would love to take a moment to introduce Grace. Grace is a beautiful tabby kitten, born in late June with 4 other siblings. Grace was a good eater and a silly little girl even as a young kitten often seen rolling on her back playing with her human foster parents while they rubbed her belly.

Around 5 weeks of age while her siblings were all gaining their coordination and strength, little Grace continued to be klutzy. It became clear at 6.5 weeks something was off with her development. An evaluation confirmed our suspicions; this sweet girl had Cerebellar Hypoplasia (CH).

This is a cautionary tale, because it was an avoidable outcome to this little girl’s life. It likely happened because her mama was exposed to feline panleukopenia while she was pregnant with Grace and her siblings. Panleukopenia is a resilient virus found in many places, particularly surfaces that are not disinfected regularly. Mama cat only needs to be exposed to the virus; she may never actually show symptoms. Her growing babies however are very susceptible and the virus impacts the development of their cerebellum, which controls movement. Grace’s mama Lilly just needed to be kept inside to protect her unborn kittens. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, which can range from mild tremors and wobbling to the inability to walk, CH kitties can live a long, happy life with some accommodations. CH kitties need to be protected from falling – stairs, furniture, andcat trees are good examples. Many CH kitties are expert climbers, falling because of their instability is a danger. Some CH kitties need litter boxes with high backs and low fronts to allow them easy access. CH kitties do not know they are different; they are just as loveable as a cat with normal cerebellum development. Many say what they lack in coordination, they make up for in personality.

Grace has moderate symptoms of CH.  She at 7 weeks old is often falling over after a step or two. The amount of energy it takes for her to move around, results in her taking more naps.  She plays with her siblings. She can eat, albeit sometimes from a laying position if she’s very tired. She uses the litter box, which for now is a ferret litter box with a very low front and high back and sides. And Grace’s favorite pastime is cuddling with her humans.

Good news…Grace got adopted, but her siblings are still looking for their furever homes, which ideally would have carpeted surfaces which help her move with more stability. The ability to protect them from falling particularly down steps is a must. While they may learn to better compensate for their under developed cerebellum and become more controlled with their movements, they will always be prone to falling over particularly if startled.

For more information on cerebellar hypoplasia check out these websites

http://lifewithchcats.com http://chcat.org/about-ch-cats/