The Best Ways to Treat Cerebellar Hypoplasia

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One of the most common questions I get asked about Sophie and cerebellar hypoplasia is if Sophie will get better, and if there is a treatment for cerebellar hypoplasia (CH). Thankfully, CH is not progressive (meaning it will not get worse over time). However, there is no treatment or cure for it either. Cats with cerebellar hypoplasia will have the disorder for their entire lives.

While there isn’t technically a cure or way to treat cerebellar hypoplasia, there are things you can do with your CH kitty to help them build up strength and confidence. The stronger and more confident a CH cat is, the more they will seemingly improve.

I have witnessed this first-hand with Sophie. When we first adopted her, she was very clumsy and couldn’t jump. Flash forward almost five years, and Sophie now jumps up onto the furniture and runs around the house like a marathon runner. Sure, she still tumbles and falls sometimes and doesn’t always stick her landings when she jumps, but when comparing her abilities from five years ago to today, it would appear that she has drastically improved. Other people have even commented that Sophie seems like she has gotten better.

The Best Ways to Treat Cerebellar Hypoplasia

So what’s the secret?

Encourage Play and Exercise

Just like with humans, play and exercise helps to build up muscle and strength in your CH cat. The stronger those little legs are, the more easily your cat will be able to get around and control her movements.

Sophie’s absolute favorite toy in the world is her wand toy, which we call STICK! (Yes, the capital letters and exclamation point are part of the toy’s name. You would understand if you saw the look on Sophie’s face whenever we pull STICK! out 😀 ) We spend time every day playing STICK! with Sophie. She chases it, she twists and turns after it, and she has even recently started jumping for it. All of this activity has undeniably helped her to build up muscle and strength in her legs, which she shows off through her play-time agility.

Sophie's BlogPaws Birthday: Testing out Wand ToysBeing an adventure cat too, Sophie goes on lots of outdoor adventures where she loves to walk around and explore. We carry her some on these adventures, but 99% of the time she insists on being put down so she can walk on her own. Allowing her to walk on her own not only helps her to build up her leg muscles, but it also increases her confidence and sense of independence.

*While I don’t personally have experience with it, some cats with more severe cases of cerebellar hypoplasia have benefited from hydrotherapy. Custom walkers and support slings are also helpful to encourage walking and muscle building with more severe CH cats.

Don’t Baby Your CH Cat

When you have a disabled cat, or handicat, it is easy to baby them out of fear and the desire to protect them. Believe me, I totally get it. It’s not easy to watch Sophie fall, hit her head, completely miss her target when jumping, or tumble down the stairs. I can’t even count how many times I thought I was having a heart attack, thanks to Sophie.

The Best Ways to Treat Cerebellar Hypoplasia - Sophie Climbing Tree, Hold My BeerFor a little while after adopting her, we babied her. We would carry her around, help her off the couch, pick her up onto the bed, etc. She didn’t have to do anything on her own. This was because every time she tried to do something on her own, I was afraid she was going to hurt herself.

After watching her throw herself off the back of the couch enough times, I began to realize that, even though she wasn’t doing things in the most conventional cat way, she was accomplishing things on her own. I started to see the thrill and look of determination and excitement in her eyes every time she was able to do something she previously hadn’t been able to do. Believe me, there’s nothing like it. Being able to celebrate those victories with her is one of my greatest joys.

Since letting go and even pushing Sophie to do more things on her own, she has accomplished SO much. In fact, here is a list of Sophie’s victories:

I understand that in the beginning it’s hard not to baby your CH cat, but eventually you just have to let go. I’m not saying not to help her out when she really needs it or is seriously in danger of hurting herself. But learn to realize that she CAN do it. She’s got this. 🙂

By Emily

23 Comments

  1. Reply

    Lola The Rescued Cat

    You’ve done such a great job woth Sophie. We love that she’s encouraged to be an independent girl. Go Sophie!

  2. Reply

    Kristen @ My 3 Little Kittens

    Sophie is SUCH a gorgeous girl. Very thankful that she has adapted so well and can rock the world around her!!!!! Love her photos!!!

  3. Reply

    Random Felines

    we love telling people about Sophie and all the things she can do!!

  4. Reply

    The Swiss Cats

    That’s such important information ! It must have been so hard for you indeed, but Sophie is amazing. She’s able to do so many things by herself thanks to your encouragements. Purrs

  5. Reply

    Fur Everywhere

    Good advice, Emily! There’s definitely a fine line in helping your kitty and babying her. I think it takes a bit of time to find that balance, and I’m glad you have with Sophie. 🙂 She is lucky to have such a loving and caring human mom!

  6. Reply

    da tabbies o trout towne

    sophie……we iz buzzed happee for ewe N give 984 paws UP two ewe yur dad and mom; itza teem effort N sum wayz N in sum wayz a solo act ~~~~~~~~~ next month ewe will be scalin mountinz …yea ~~~~~ 🙂 ♥♥

  7. Reply

    The Dash Kitten Crew

    This is such a psotive post, thank you for guding people towards a great way of encouraging their CH cat. Sophie is a great role model for ALL CH cats. We will share!!!

  8. Reply

    Summer

    You’ve done a great job with Sophie! Honestly, I think kitties in general get babied too much and not challenged enough, but it’s especially important for Cerebellar Hypoplasia kitties to learn to do things.

  9. Reply

    Kitties Blue

    Excellent post and advice. We are pretty sure there are humans who are too fearful to let their handicat do things on her own. Maybe this will convince them to let their cat give things a try. Astrid sends Sampy bazillions of kisses and oodles of love. And Mom and Dad send love to all. XOCK, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, angel Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth, Calista Jo and Cooper Murphy

  10. Reply

    Eastside Cats

    Love the word bubbles on your photo! LOL! Go, Sophie…go!

  11. Reply

    The Island Cats

    What Sophie can accomplish despite her handicap totally amazes us. And we’re sure that’s due to all the love and care she gets from you.

  12. Reply

    Kamira Gayle

    I love this. On one of your recent videos I noticed Sophie was walking pretty well, so much so I almost forgot she has CH. I thought my memory was just bad but to now read how her CH is improving I get it. This is so encouraging. It’s amazing what lots of love, confidence and determination can do for handicats. So encouraging. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Reply

    Debbie

    These are great tips! It’s so important to help your pet be the best version of themselves. I bet helping Sophie build her muscles and coordination and just letting her do her thing and challenge herself has gone a long way.

  14. Reply

    Cathy Armato

    What a beautiful post! I love the incredible life you’ve given Sophie as well as your other cats. I agree it’s important not to baby or feel sorry for pets that have challenges. Focus on what they CAN achieve! You do exactly that for Sophie.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  15. Reply

    Cathy Keisha

    TW and Plush CK love Sophie! It’s so good that you let her do things on her own. TW would baby a cat sor sure after how she babies me when she even thinks I’m gonna get an asthma attack She’ll stay up all night listening to my breathing. Sophie is such a happy and loved cat.

  16. Reply

    Ellen Pilch

    Excellent post. Sophie is a super hero.

  17. Reply

    Robin

    Sophie is such an inspiration! She never lets life get her down. It seems like most CH cats do pretty well as pets as long as they are well cared for. Not babying anyone with a disability is a challenge. As a compassionate person, your first instinct is to help. However, we all have to learn to overcome the challenges that stand in our way. You build strength through adversity.

  18. Reply

    MrJackFreckles/Pipo/Angel-Minko/

    Bravo and bravo to the most spirited kitty evfur!
    Nothing will stop her, and love helps her get to all the goals she wants to!

  19. Reply

    Tamago

    Sophie is an inspiration and definitely one of the coolest adventure cats! It must be really hard not to baby handicat, but glad you got the strength not to. What she has accomplished is truly remarkable!

  20. Reply

    Timmy

    Sophie is our wonder kitty and we love to visit and see what adventure she is having out and about or at home. Thanks for sharing this dear little handi-able kitty with us all

  21. Reply

    Sweet Purrfections

    I admire what you’ve done with Sophie and with educating people about cerebellar hypoplasia. I remember meeting Sophie the first time almost 3 years ago and I love her to death. She seems so confident in who she is.

  22. Reply

    Sweet Purrfections

    We wanted to remind you about the 2018 Cat Blogging Calendar.,

    We’d love to include you in our 2018 Cat Blogging Calendar. Please see details at https://cbcatcalendar.blogspot.com/.

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