About CH Cats

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

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

10 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.

  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.

  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.

  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 :)

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