Hello and welcome! If you have arrived here you may have experienced Cerebellar Hypoplasia (CH) in your life already and know all about it, or you may be wondering what this could possibly be! My goal with this blog is to raise awareness of how fantastic a life a CH cat can have, show the trials and joys of living with one, and sharing our ongoing journey with you! I have many stories to share, and would absolutely love to hear yours! But first we’ll do introductions and our experience, so let me start at the beginning, May 5th, 2014…
Erik and I have been living together with our kitty, Lily. Lately Lily has become despondent. She lost her crazy playfulness and has no interest in us. She is lonely, missing our old roommate`s kitty. I find myself surfing Craigslist and an ad grabs my attention. She’s in Surrey, long drive from Squamish, but we could use an outing. I propose we take a drive, just to look. No commitment to take home and no real plans to, just curious. The only thing we are looking for if anything is not another grey tabby like Lily, and hopefully a girl. We leave, I get a text, the orange kitten is gone now. Bummer. Another goes minutes later. Two went at the same time. Closer now and the calico is gone. Around the corner and she texts that she promised someone the black one. The only one left is a male grey tabby. Ok… Well we came all this way, maybe it`s meant to be. Little do we know this is fate working here. She answers the door and hands the baby to Erik.
Instant love! Erik, “It`s too late I love him, He looks like Yoda and we`re keeping him. Give her the money,“ as he walks away.
He sleeps all the way home. When we get home we start to bond with our new addition. We name him Rumpelstiltskin (who doesn`t love Once Upon a Time?). It doesn`t take long to notice something is off. He`s falling alot, even for a kitten, and rocking back and forth. He has no balance or co-ordination. We were sad, this kitten is obviously sick, heartbroken, not knowing what to expect or if we will lose him any day. Here you can see a good example of the tremors he gets when focusing.
The vet says he`s just small, that there`s no way he`s older than 5 weeks. It will go away. Time goes on and it`s not going away, I`m panicking, so I hit the net. Finally I come across the video, “This Is Charley. ” This is it, no question, this is what our tippy kitten has. Cerebellar Hypoplasia. I search the net again and find this amazing website, lifewithchcats.com. I thank this site for answering all my questions and quelling all my fears in those early days.
So what is Cerebellar Hypoplasia? Basically, this happens when the cerebellum (behind the brain, control center for balance and motor skills) did not fully develop. It is not contagious, does not progress and does not make the cat unhealthy in any way. They will never walk quite right, or have that elegance felines are famous for, but they will live a normal, happy life span just as any other kitty. To quote lifewithchcats.com who I think puts it best, “CH cats are known for their ‘drunken sailor’ walk, which is why they’re known endearingly as ‘wobbly cats.’ ” I really like this video of a CH kitten because it is a great example of these kitties personalities. They are so determined and do not know there is anything different about them. They are so loving and funny, they really can be some of the best pets you could ever have.
CH kitties are often misdiagnosed, or the disorder itself misunderstood, so many of these amazing cats are needlessly destroyed. But they also have an ever-growing fan base seeking to spread the word and educate. I was very lucky early on to find a Facebook community of other CH owners who share stories, advice and support.
I later learned that Rumpelstiltskin is German for “little rattle stilt,” so that was incredibly fitting by chance. When I look back at how he came into our lives, someone was definitely looking out for him, and us! We are so lucky, if he hadn’t been the last kitty in the litter we might never have met him! But everything is meant to be! Every CH kitty is unique and amazing, my hope is that reading mine and other’s stories mean that, should a CH kitty come into your life, you bring them in arms wide open!
See the video of Rumpel’s life so far here