Cerebellar Hypoplasia (CH)

ch kittens as babies

What is CH?

Cerebellar Hypoplasia or CH is a condition in which a cat’s cerebellum is underdeveloped.

What is the cerebellum?

The cerebellum is located in the back of the brain and is responsible for fine motor skills and coordination. So, kittens/cats with CH tend to be wobbly and uncoordinated.

How does a kitten get CH?

This most often occurs in utero when an unvaccinated, pregnant queen contracts feline panleukopenia virus (a virus similar to parvo in dogs). “The panleukopenia virus preferentially attacks rapidly dividing cells. During the perinatal period (i.e., in the last weeks of pregnancy and the first weeks after birth) the cerebellum is undergoing rapid growth and development, making it vulnerable to attack by the virus. The condition may only affect one kitten in a litter or may involve all littermates.”[1]

Will a kitten’s/cat’s CH symptoms change over time?

“As cerebellar hypoplasia is a non-progressive disorder, this will not worsen over time, but cats are generally affected for the rest of their lives.”[2]

Likely signs of CH:

  • Kitty stands with her legs far apart
  • Kitty sways when he moves
  • Kitty lifts her legs high when walking
  • Kitty nods, or has head tremors, which may worsen when they try to eat or focus
  • Kitty loses his balance

Can kitties with CH live normal lives?

YES! While there are varying degrees of CH, most kitties with this condition learn to cope and live happy, healthy lives. Keeping your CH kitty strictly indoors (and safe from predators), using easily accessible litterboxes, and providing raised food and water bowls are examples of ways to accommodate your CH kitty and help them live more “normally.”

CH Kittens at The Hermitage:

This kitten season, The Hermitage welcomed a whole litter of kittens with CH: Widdle, Wibble, Woddle, Wiggle, and Wobble. These adorable kittens are very playful, loving, and social babies who are looking for a home that will accommodate their lack of coordination.

Check out our CH video staring Widdle (now Morticia), who helps to educate the public about CH in cats. (Thank you to Tucson Veterinary Specialists for providing the great educational content for this video! To learn more about the amazing things they do, please check out their website: https://www.tvetspecialists.com) Watch all the way to the end to see Morticia’s siblings playing and living their best wobbly lives!

Learn More:

[1] https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/cerebellar-hypoplasia-in-cats

[2] https://www.cats.org.uk/help-and-advice/health/disabled-cats/cats-with-cerebellar-hypoplasia

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