About CH Cats

CH Kitty Informational Tri-fold

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

Resources

To learn more, or get assistance with a CH cat, please visit the following resources:

CH Kitty Club http://www.chkittyclub.com

Cerebellar Hypoplasia Cats http://chcat.org

Cerebellar Hypoplasia Cats and Kittens Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/181495576436

Life with CH Cats Blog http://lifewithchcats.com

Wesley the Wobbly Kitten https://www.facebook.com/#!/fuzzy.butt.foster.pets

View/Print: Cerebellar Hypoplasia Handout
View/Print: Tri-fold Cerebellar Hypoplasia Brochure

35 thoughts on “About CH Cats

  1. My 2 year old cat, Tequila has a moderate case of cerrabellum. She usually is extremely active and wanting to play at any given time.
    I have a two floor apartment and she taught herself to walk up and down the stairs,jump on and off the couch and my bed after seconds of planning the distance of her landing spot so she won’t bump into anything. She runs very fast with a push from her back legs which looks like she’s half rabbit. My daughter named her Tequila, it certainly is a befitting name. I fell in love with her the minute we met.
    It saddens me to know that she could have been euthanized had she fallen into the wrong hands.
    I have spent over $2,000.00 in veterinarian bills two years ago when she ate a small ball of yarn. This wiped out my savings but she is worth more than any dollar amount to me.
    Two years since the last episode I think that I might be in the same situation yet again. The past two days She hasn’t been usual happy self. I fear that this is happening again but this time I don’t have the resources to get her help and I’m afraid that if I can’t afford a veterinarian visit with whatever else included that they are going to tell me that the only other option is to euthanize her. I can’t bear the thought of this!
    If anyone has any information on how I can get her some help with this, Please email me. It would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you in advance,
    Jennifer and Tequila

    • Hi Jennifer, are you worried that your kitty ate yarn again or there is something else wrong? Many vets offer payment plans or payments via CareCredit or Chase’s medical payment card. These allow you to have no-interest payments over the course of 6+ months for the vet bill.

    • Update on Tequila? Is she ok? You can also send up a GoFundMe for her vet aid and try to solicit donations to help her on the Facebook sites devoted to Cats and Cat care.

  2. We have a 4yr old little boy cat with cerebellar hypoplasia, I would guess after reading the info above is moderate to severe, his name is Evan Alexander and my husband and I love him dearly. We rescued him after seeing he was being starved, mother either wasnt nursing him or he could not drink, the other two kittens the mother had were doing fine; so my husband and I started taking kitten milk over to the barn across the meadow from our home, to the little guy, at first he didn’t seem to be able to drink, we tried bottle and he just could not suck, then we tried a small bowl, his little tongue was barely able to lap it up as it was so short, once he was able to get some milk his mother stood beside him waiting for us to bring him milk every feeding, then she would allow us to feed him and he would go back into the barn behind a corn crib where we could not get to them. when he was 7 or 8 wks old we seen that his development was slow and his front metacarples would give way, he waddled when he walked and after eating he got a distended tummy from his starvation (before we found him); so we decided we were going to adopt him and took him in. Took him to the vet got his first shots, kept him seprate for 3 wks from our other cat til every test came back ok. He has since developed some his tail finally grew, he was finally able to eat a mousse kitten food my Royal Canin, we were absolutely thrilled. The vet didn’t seem to know what was wrong other then he said he had a cerebellar viral infection, this past week the vets away and he had another vet in covering for him and while having our other cat Ellie in I shared with this older gentleman vet about Evan and he told me Evan has Cerebellar hypoplasia, with out even looking at or seen my little evan or even looking at Evan’s chart.
    So a little info from the wonderful vet, I started this search and here I am.
    Thank you for putting this info out there, so now I see where my little guy is.
    his development has been slow, his head is two small for his body his little paws (front) give out on him and his hind end goes every which way, he can not climb or jump up or down, and his disposition can be nasty at times, ( but we absolutley love this little cat. my husband and I lift him up into our bed every night and in the morning we lift him down, when he wants to go up stairs we carry him and bring him down as he tried to climb down one day and fell. He has a modified liter box that he does not have to climb into as he can not and he goes pottie on a pee pee pad, he eats science diet the tiny bites. He is the cutest little cat you could ever what to see, he is our precious little guy to love and care for and I thank God for him.

    • thank god for u! my husband and I have a ch kitty. He is our world. We love him and have spent 2,000$ on different vets trying to find out what was wrong with Zippy do da. then someone posted a video on facebook. It opened our eyes! We have found a vet who is familiar with the disorder.He tried to jump off my bed last night and has hurt his rear left hip. as no vets were open he has had to wait til morning to see our vet.is it safe for ch kitties to be x-rayed?

  3. Hey! I have a cat that has moderate CH. She is,about a year and a half old. In the beginning she had a normal time using the litter box. As she has gotten bigger, she has gone right outside of the litter box, like she thinks she is all the way in there but her back legs are not. The past few days though she has urinated everywhere else in the house..many feet away from the litter box. She poops in the litter box but for some reason she hasn’t peed in there. What do you think could be her reasoning?

    • Hi Marcie, I hope her situation has improved? With urinary issues it is always important to be sure they see a vet to ensure they don’t have an infection or other health condition causing the behavior. If her health check goes well, then you may need to experiment with different sizes and types of litter boxes, litter, and maybe try pee pee pads. Check out more suggestions on our FAQ page.

    • I would try a few different litter boxes around the house if she is cleared for a UTI at the vet. Perhaps the litter is bothering her – you could try alternate litter choices (corn-based, etc…) and also try boxes with lower sides, higher sides, or even one modified to have a “walk-in” area like a beach, if it’s hard for her to get in?

      Also, be sure to get a cleaner with enzymes to clean up the areas she’s went around the house, so that she’s not attracted to previously urinated areas because of the smell.

  4. I was just asked to take a 6 week old kitten. Yes. She’s been cared for well for a month now, apparently alone when found at approximately two weeks old. Her symptoms are pointing toward ch, according to the vet she has seen. She is quite off-balance at this young stage. I am wondering, when and if I need to try some type of wheelchair/cart for her, who can I turn to for a donation of one? I am hoping she will settle in well here at my home, and continue to be as outgoing as she is now. I also hold onto a hope that it may not be CH, since apparently you need an MRI to determine that definitively. I hope with time, nourishment exercise and love that she will get stronger and steadier. We will see. She was called, Happy. We’re going to stick with that. Thanks.

  5. I had a cat, Teddy, born with cerebellar hypoplasia and he was totally blind. I took him to a vet when he was 8 weeks old expecting to be told I “should” euthanize him, and will always be grateful the vet said that was not necessary. A neighbor worked for a store that sold stove supplies and she brought me two 4′ stove pipe boxes. I taped them into a long tunnel. The sides were just wide enough to keep Teddy from falling sideways. That became his “early childhood” rehab equipment. He loved it, and would rocket through the boxes elated to be able to run without flopping over. It really helped him develop his muscles. He was a joy in our family for 17 years and was otherwise healthy. We still miss him. Thanks for educating the public on this condition. These cats do make wonderful family members!

  6. I have been given a cat with ch and am having a heck of a time with the cat box any hints other than tall walls. Will she get better at walking as she gets older.

    • Hi Cynthia – cats with CH will often seem to improve as they grow and get more practice and control of their (in)coordination. There are many things you can do to help with the litter box, most CH cats have a preference of what they like to use. Try different sizes of boxes, different heights of litterbox walls, a fully enclosed litterbox (such as a rubbermaid bin with a hole cut in the side), as well as different types of litter. Depending on her severity, she may prefer to use a pee pee pad instead of litter. You can also try to help her by establishing a potty routine, in which you take her to the box and help prop her up, on a schedule, multiple times per day. You can check out more suggestions on the FAQ page, too :)

  7. Hi All,
    We have a 7 month boy with moderate CH. He is hands down the sweetest cat I have ever had. His main issues are his head tremors when he gets excited, I have also noticed that is he always very interested in observing what is going on around him. He will just sit with his head cocked to one side watching me do my daily things for hours! He is also quite the eater! You would think he’s starving! But nope, just very intense about his meals lol. The only issue we have had with him is getting him to use his litter box. We have 3 other cats, 1 of which is his mom so he surely knows how to use it, but getting him to use it has been quite the difficulty. Another issue is his breathing. I have noticed when he sleeps he wheezes..yet he is extremely active. Has anyone else ever had a similar issue? He has been doing it for as long as I can remember…I suppose since he is getting fixed next week I will mention it to the vet.

    I must say, our little Bobs is quite the inspiration. He radiates joy and happiness. He never denies cuddles, and he is always there giving you his “curious look” which never fails to put a smile on my face. I was always so worried about him when he was a baby, but it is such a relief to know how happy of a kitten he truly is.

    :)

    • Thanks for sharing your story :) Many CH kitties have litter box ‘issues’…the trick is just finding the right solution for them. Just keep trying different litters, sizes/styles of boxes and you’ll find something that works for him. If all else fails, most will use peepee pads or towels too! As for his wheezing, hopefully the vet could help you figure it out?

      • My little CH furbaby will only use shredded paper in his litter box, We have also added an extra litterbox underneath and put drainage holes in the top box to allow for the urine to drain into the bottom tray (bottom tray has a layer of kitty litter to absorb liquid), this means it is less smelly and my Hogan doesn’t have to get his paws wet. Just an idea if all else fails.

      • Hi
        You didn’t say what breed your CH kitty is but mine is a burmese and due to their short snouts they tend to snore or wheeze when relaxing/sleeping.

  8. Very glad to have the information provided on these pages. Our sanctuary, which is primarily equines, also is home to other animals. Someone brought us a kitten approximately 4 weeks of age that was “flopping around on a neighbor’s lawn”. No mama or siblings anywhere in sight. He was thin and frightened. Started him on good cat formula with a bottle and he is now eating – I do provide elevated dishes, but sometimes hold and support his head. He is an ardent player, finding joy in his reflection, blades of grass, etc. I dearly love him and hope he has many years at the sanctuary. I am an RN and bring him to work with me – one of our residents loves him dearly and holds and cares for him when I am doing my job…..thanks for the information. I will join the listed facebook page

  9. I looked up this page because my friend’s cat just had a litter and one of her kittens has this. Gizmo is the most adorable little ball of fuzz I have ever seen, and I wanted to comment that he is unusually smart. He’s about 7 months old now, and can give high fives when we ask, (although sometimes he does it with his nose) and he (tries to) sit when you ask him to. It’s sad to watch him try to go outside, though, because he bonks his little head on the glass door. His siblings are mean to him too. :( but he’s a very happy kitty who adores scratches on the belly.

  10. My CH cat just died today :'( I just can’t stop crying..my little kitty was 3 year old. He had a severe case of CH, couldn’t walk on his own not at all. We adopted the little one when his mother abandoned him. He was the cutest little pet one could ever imagine. I can’t stop my tears right now. Thanks for sharing awareness about the CH cats. It can really help alot of people. And I must say, These cats are so special they deserve kindness and love. I really miss my cat :'(

  11. I am so sorry for your loss. I agree that these are the most precious cats in the world. I have a CH cat named Sparky. I actually came to the site for the first time today looking for information about geriatric CH cats. Sparky will soon be 17. I adopted him when he was a tiny kitten. He is an orange tabby and I have been told that they (even without CH) are quite vocal, but Sparky has become much more so in his old age and I worry that he might be trying to tell me that he is uncomfortable. My vet assures me that he just has elderly kitty dementia, but is a big worry anyway. Sparky is undoubtedly the sweetest cat I have ever had. My current other cat Gilbert hangs very close to him and they spend a good part of each day snuggled together. I am glad that I found this site, because once Sparky passes on, I will make every effort possible to give a home to another CH kitty. I really hate to think that such cats might be overlooked as adoptable because of their challenges. In my mind and heart, it makes them all the MORE loveable and precious.

  12. Wow! I haven’t been on this website in over ten years. I’m pleased to see how far it’s come. My cat Sally will be turning 15 this year. She is such a joy! Her gait is the same as ever, which can be really funny as her back feet try to pass up her front feet at times. She can do everything most cats cat except climb onto the furniture. However, she does not see this as a needed skill as she is surrounded by lovely places to nap and family that includes another cat, a rabbit, a toddler, a dog, and of course her mom and dad humans. Her favorite things are her dad, her beanie baby fish, and cheese.

    We did have a few months recently when she was not dealing well with her seizure medication. (She is legitimately epileptic.) That caused her to stay in her bed and need to be carried to the litter box. We have done water physical therapy in the bathtub, which she absolutely hated! However, now she’s walking and playing again. Tough love wins! :)

    I would be interested to know how old everyone else’s CH kitties are. We hope to have Sally around for many more years.

  13. Hi all! I’ve just brought home a 9 month old female kitten with CH and it appears to be mild. I was surprised to see that she is able to jump on and off my bed. I’m aware that her disability makes her more accident prone, so I try to keep an eye on her when she attempts to jump on and off. My question is, is she causing any internal damage to herself if she’s able to land fine? Or should I discourage her from jumping off the bed all together? Thanks!

    • By the way, she is such a sweet and loving kitten, and it saddens me to think that I almost overlooked her because of her condition.

    • Unless she is taking big tumbles and falls, she most likely isn’t causing any damage internally. Some CH kitties want to be as independent as possible and trying to keep them from jumping on/off furniture can be worse than just letting them do it. If you are concerned, you can create a landing area of blankets/dog pillows next to the bed and cover any surrounding furniture corners with some fabric to help soften any uncoordinated falls.

  14. Hi, I have a 6 month old kitty (Martini) that I adopted after her mother abandoned her in the yard. I believe she is a CH kitty since she can’t stand and gets around by launching herself forward and flopping from side to side until she manages to get near her goal. She uses potty pads…sort of lol… she’s pretty good for a while then she seems to forget to go to them.

    She recently started having severe behavior swings where she seems to get extremely scared or tense or irritated…i’m not sure. She will growl, scream, hiss and lash out when I talk to her or touch her. She seems to be very sensitive to touching of her tail or back legs as well. I can’t tell if she’s in pain or if this is just a symptom of CH. I’m scratched and bleeding all the time due to her tantrums and the fact that she’s always been prone to bite and claw..even while purring.

    There has been a change in the household as well and I think part of the problem may be related to that. We have 2 new kittens in the house that I picked up from the local Wal-mart where they had been abandoned in the parking lot. Some times she seems to be interested in them as they run around and has even made her way over to where they were playing, but once close, she just starts hissing and growling and is unapproachable for some time afterward.

    Does anyone know if this is usual CH cat behavior? And if so, what can I do to help her not stress out like she does? Is there medication she should be on? I hate seeing her get so freaked out like that and she has severely bitten and scratched me when I’ve tried to comfort/calm her. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I love her to death but I’m having a hard time dealing with the violent behavior.

    • Hi Michelle,

      That is not behavior related to CH. Can you try separating her from the other kittens to see how she does in a room of her own? Additionally, if it is stress related, have you tried Feliway plugins?

      You may also wish to look into feline hyperesthesia, which is a sensitivity to touch. http://www.vet.cornell.edu/FHC/health_resources/HyperesthesiaSyndrome.cfm

      Good luck – please keep us posted! If you are on facebook, please also post your concerns there as there are tons of active members who can help https://www.facebook.com/groups/CHcat/

      -Elise

      • Thanks so much Elise!

        Martini is actually doing better recently. I did keep her separated from the kittens for several days and let her initiate any contact with them after that. She still has her moments but I feel that some of her behavior issues were possibly related to the fact that she was entering her first heat cycle. I plan to have her spayed but I was hesitant due to the way she gets around, fearing she would open her incision. She uses her abdominal muscles for every effort at getting around so I just needed to speak with her vet to be assured she would be fine.

        Regarding the Feliway…I actually have some of the spray and I did spritz that around her “area” to try to help relax her. I think it works but it’s very short term.

        I do wonder if there is a better alternative for her litter…since she does like to “dig” and “cover”, she often will pull the potty pads up from the litter pad holder or move them around so that she ends up urinating on the floor or holder and then ends up wet and smelly with urine. I hate to subject her to full baths but she gets far more than she appreciates. Is there a specialty litter pan that would work better? Or should I try using a box of some sort with one side cut down?

        Again, thanks for the information and suggestions!

        • Glad to hear she is doing better! I find the Feliway diffuser works much better/more consistently than the spray. Maybe a custom litter box like this might help her?
          CH Litterbox Modification

  15. My boyfriend rescued 4 kittens that were abandoned by their mother. we have to boys and 2 girls and are between 3.5 to 4 weeks old. The boys seem to be doing just fine but one of the girls, the little grey one, started not being able to walk very well if at all. It started Friday afternoon, she became very lathargic and not really moving or taking the bottle when we tried to feed her. they said her glucose was between 70 and 76 so they gave her something to try to help boost her glucose. She seems to be doing much better though she can’t stand very well and doesn’t walk but she will lay on her side and scoot around with her back legs (she can’t hold herself up with her front legs). The vet said that she definitely has a neurological problem but it is hard to tell if it is CH. How she moves around looks similar to the moderate to severe cases of CH but she also seems like she gets so frustrated that she can’t move so she mostly lays on her side and sleeps a lot. She does have the wobbly head and can kind of lift her head up and slightly move it side to side but she still has a floppy neck. She was able to eat some moist food with formula mixed in however I had to feed it to her on a spoon as she can’t keep her head up long enough to eat it off the plate. She also seems to be having a hard time pooping even with the stimulation but she she did poop when the vets gave her an enema to get her unblocked. I want to try to find out if she does actually have CH but a CT scan or MRI is expensive…..I also want to try to get her a wheel chair so she can sit up and move around instead of laying on her side all day.

    The other girl started having the same symptoms Friday night, however she started not even be able to scoot around. We took them to the vet Saturday and the vet said she also had a neurological problem but her glucose was 40 so they gave her something to boost her glucose. When we brought her home, it was feeding time and all of the others ate but the other girl , the little black one, refused the bottle. She wouldn’t even hold her head up, seemed to be breathing very heavily and just looked like she was giving up. We took her back to the vet and they said her body temp was low and her glucose had shot up to 200 and her breathing was very heavy. We had to make the decision to let her go to sleep so she would not be any pain.

    The two boys seem perfectly fine. They are able to walk around, eat on their own, and poop after a little bit of stimulation. They are able to play with each other and they are very good brothers to their sister (and other sister when she was still here). They are all able to groom themselves though the little grey girl has a little bit of trouble now.

    All of the girls’ symptoms seemed to come on very quickly (they were both walking around the first 2 days we rescued them then they suddenly started not being able to keep themselves up) but the three remaining are all doing very good. Does anyone know how to get it checked if the remaining girl actually does have CH without having to get a CT scan or an MRI done? I really want to be able to keep the little girl (I would love to keep them all but I know the boys will definitely get adopted) as she is a sweet heart and a cuddle bug but is a little feisty when she tries to move but gets frustrated.

  16. MY NAME IS AARON IM 8 WEEKS OLD MY FOSTER MOM BELIEVES I HAVE CH BUT SHE DOESNT HAVE THE FUNDS FOR THE MRI TO CONFIRM I SHOW ALL THE RIGHT SIGNS… MOM SAID SHE IS GOING TO SET UP A FACEBOOK ACCOUNT AND GOFUNDME PAGE JUST FOR ME… PLEASE FOLLOW ME ON FACEBOOK prayersforaaronkittywithch@gmail.com . MOM HOPES TO RAISE AWARNESS SO CH DOESNT HAVE TO BE A DEATH SENTENCE

  17. We just adopted a CH kitten a few days ago from the animal shelter and love him so much already. He is a very mobile CH kitten and loves running through the house, but he has very bad depth perception. He keeps running full force into the wall and table leg, we’re afraid he’s going to hurt himself really bad one of these times. He also keeps jumping up and flipping himself in the air (batting at imaginary objects), and landing on his head. Any ideas on how to get him to slow down a little? 2nd question, he’s either running full speed through our house or he’s sound asleep, there’s no in between down time yet. Do you have any suggestions on how to play/interract with him? (That perferrably doesn’t trigger him to get excited and run through the house and into the walls) He can’t play with cat toys because he can’t see them. We have also been keeping our older husky mix away from him, because he likes attacking our dog’s big fluffy tail. Any ideas of how to play with him, or what object he might be able to play with, besides my dog’s tail?

    • Hi Leanne,

      I would try padding his play area up as much as possible. Hopefully as he grows and gains more coordination, he’ll stop running into the walls and furniture so much. He probably just has so much pent up kitten energy. As far as toys go, have you tried a tail-like want toy, since he likes to play with your dogs tail? Something large enough for him to focus on and go after/grip: http://www.amazon.com/SmartyKat-Swishy-Tail-Interactive-Feather/dp/B00EZTC5VO

      He sounds like an adorable boy! Good luck!
      -Elise

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>