Today is the first post of the series, and I will be answering a very common question:
What is Cerebellar Hypoplasia?
CH is a disorder that is present at birth, but because kittens' movements aren't all that coordinated in the beginning, it is sometimes not noticeable until a month or two after birth. A CT scan or MRI is the only way to officially diagnose CH, but most vets are familiar enough with the symptoms that they can diagnose the disorder without those tests. There are diseases and disorders out there that resemble CH though, so it is important to understand the differences so that your pet receives the necessary care and attention.
There is no treatment for CH, and it does not get better or worse with age. However, a cat can learn to compensate for it and can therefore appear to improve. Sophie has learned to compensate for her CH in so many ways, it's quite amazing. She is not the most coordinated jumper, so she has become an incredible climber. She can scale any obstacle put in her way. And because we play with her so much and encourage her to run and chase toys, she has built up muscle strength in her legs, which helps her to run and play even better!
A common misconception about CH cats is that their lifespan will be affected by the disorder. This is not true. CH does not affect the lifespan of a cat, and it does not cause any other types of complications. That being said, because of CH kitties' wobbly natures and tendency to fall, they may hurt themselves and require extra veterinary care to treat injuries. Chipped teeth are quite common among CH cats. Thankfully we haven't had to deal with any of those with Sophie. Actually, she has never had to be treated for any type of injury, though I am sometimes amazed that she hasn't hurt herself after all of the tumbles and falls she has had.
Now you may be wondering, what causes CH? There are several factors that can cause the disorder. One of the most common cause is feline panleukopenia. If a mother cat contracts panleukopenia while pregnant, her kittens may develop CH while in the womb. Other causes include malnutrition, poisoning, or trauma while in utero. I will stress that all of these causes are things that occur while the kittens are in the womb. A cat cannot contract or develop CH later in life.
As I mentioned before, there are varying degrees of CH, which I will delve into in another post. I will say that Sophie is considered to have a mild-moderate case. Despite all of this, one of the best things about Sophie is that she doesn't even notice that she's different. She doesn't let her disability get in the way of anything. And from what I've heard from other CH cat parents, that is how CH cats are across the board.
If you've been following my blog for a while, you've probably seen this video before, but it is one of my favorites. It is a video of Sophie, just being Sophie. It's guaranteed to put a smile on your face :)