I have noticed Moe wobbling about in the front window a few times when I’ve come home recently. Each time I’ve wondered if folk might worry about her when they see her jerky movements, which are a result of an undiagnosed form of ataxia – ‘the loss of full control of bodily movements’. Yesterday I found some fantastic links with information about a specific ataxia disorder, Cerebellar Hypoplasia (CH), and decided it was time to do a poster about her, to put people at ease and to raise awareness about special needs companion animals generally.
I’m not going to repeat all the information here but I’ll give ye some basics and links to find out more.
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.
Cats with Cerebellar Hypoplasia are often euthanased, as people misunderstand the condition as being painful and/or contagious. However, CH cats 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.
Cereballar Hypoplasia is just one disorder that results in ataxia. My main experience with cats with ataxia has been with kittens who have had Feline Infectious Enteritis and survived. Our ‘technical’ name for such kittens is ‘wobblers’.
Moe seemed fine until she was 8 weeks old – and then suddenly started wobbling. There was no particular obvious reason why this happened and the vet said no further diagnosis was required – Moe was officially a wobbler. Moe may or may not be a CH cat, but it’s easier to use the disorder to highlight her problems – and the problems of special needs kittens in general – than to confuse with too much ataxia information.
There are three clinical types of ataxia: sensory (proprioceptive), vestibular, and cerebellar. All three types produce changes in limb coordination, but vestibular and cerebellar ataxia also produce changes in head and neck movement. Ataxia, in general, is a condition relating to a sensory dysfunction that produces loss of coordination of the limbs, head, and/or trunk.
And remember that internet information is no substitute for veterinary advice. If you’ve any questions about a companion animal you know – take them to a vet.
Find Out More
- CH Kitty Club
- Cerebellar Hypoplasia Cats
- Cerebellar Hypoplasia Cats and Kittens Facebook Group
- Life with CH Cats Blog
- Wobbly Kittens by Sarah Caney, MRCVS (pdf)