What is Cerebellar Hypoplasia?

What is Cerebellar Hypoplasia?Cerebellar hypoplasia (CH) is a disorder in which the cerebellum part of the brain doesn’t develop completely before birth. The cerebellum is a region of the brain that plays a major role in motor control and coordination. Having an underdeveloped cerebellum results in jerky movements, uncoordinated motion, and tremors. Though there are varying degrees of severity, a cat affected by CH is generally wobbly and unsteady and will often fall over when walking – hence the nickname “Wobbly Cat Syndrome.” As my husband puts it, Sophie looks like she has gotten into the liquor cabinet a few too many times. 😉

As mentioned, there are varying degrees of cerebellar hypoplasia, ranging from mild to severe cases. Cats with mild cases of CH may have a little wobble to their step or possibly slight head tremors but can generally get around with no issues. Cats with severe CH usually can’t walk on their own and have to have specially-made litter boxes.



How is cerebellar hypoplasia diagnosed?

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 these tests. There are other diseases and disorders out there that resemble CH though, so it is important to understand the differences so that your pet receives the appropriate care and attention needed.

What causes cerebellar hypoplasia?

There are several factors that can cause the disorder. One of the most common causes is the feline panleukopenia virus. 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.

What is Cerebellar Hypoplasia? - Sophie, CH Cat, playing outside

What is the treatment for cerebellar hypoplasia?

There is no treatment for cerebellar hypoplasia, 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, she has built up muscle strength in her legs, which helps her to run faster and play even better! Over time, Sophie has actually learned to hone her jumping skills and can now jump up onto our bed. Though I will say that her landings aren’t always the most graceful…

It has also been found that hydrotherapy can be helpful in building up muscle strength in those cats who have more severe cases of CH. So while there is no cure or official medical treatment that will cure CH, there are many things you can do for your CH kitty that are extremely beneficial to them and their independence, like playing and encouraging them to accomplish things on their own.​

Will my cat’s lifespan be affected?

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.

Can my CH cat live a happy life?

ABSOLUTELY! Because CH kitties are born the way they are, they don’t know any different. As long as they are well taken care of like any other pet, they can live long and happy lives. Sophie doesn’t let her disability get in the way of anything. She’s never faced an obstacle she can’t tackle, and she always has the most positive attitude. She is by far one of the happiest cats I’ve ever met. From what I’ve heard from other CH cat parents, this is how CH kitties are across the board.

Sophie may stumble and fall, hit her head sometimes, or completely miss her mark when trying to jump, but she gets right back up and keeps on going with a big smile on her face. I think we can all learn a little something from cats like Sophie…

By Emily


  1. Reply

    Sharon S.

    Happy Birthday Sophie! Emily, you did a great job of explaining CH. I’m looking forward to reading your upcoming posts. I think the more we demonstrate to pet owners that life can be rewarding with a special needs pet, the more they will adopt these deserving pets.

  2. Reply


    What a beautiful girl. Ch cats amaze me. please give miss Sophie kisses and pets.

  3. Reply

    Kitties Blue

    Emily, this was an excellent post with such good information for all of us. I loved watching the video again. Sophie has so much spunk and tenacity. Astrid is on my lap, so she, of course, enjoyed watching Sampson. She has been extra clingy the last couple of days. Though, none of the kitties have seen the suitcase yet, I think they sense that I will be leaving for a few days. Kisses and hugs to you and yours from me and Kitties Blue with extra nose-kisses and head-bonks for Sampson from Astrid

  4. Reply


    Wonderful post, thank you for sharing it with us

  5. Reply

    Kwee Cats and Art

    Sophie, you are adorable! We enjoy getting to see you and your happy family.
    Hugs 🙂

  6. Reply

    Angel AbbyGrace

    Sophie you have my ♥ at that first wobble.

  7. Reply

    The Island Cats

    We’re glad to see Sophie does so well despite having CH. We can’t wait to celebrate her birthday!

  8. Reply


    Happy birth month to your sweet Sophie!
    This is a great post and thank you so much for information about cerebellar hypoplasia. I enjoyed video, too. As you mentioned, she is a very good climber. Watching her being so playful and active certainly made me smile 🙂

  9. Reply

    Sometimes, Cats Herd You

    Sophie is gorgeous! What a great explanation of cerebellar hypoplasia. This is one of the simplest explanations we’ve seen, and we will refer people to it in the future who are unfamiliar with it.

  10. Reply

    Deztinee Izabella

    Fanks fuw shawin’ da video. Meez new so me hasn’t seen it afuw and Sophie be so purretty. And dat’s sum pawsum info. on da CH tu.
    Luv and Hugs and Kitty Kisses ♥♥♥

  11. Reply


    Great that Ms. Sophie’s lifespan won’t be affected by her CH! She is adorable to watch…very endearing! And the music for the video was very uplifting as well 🙂
    the critters in the cottage xo

  12. Reply

    Cathy Connoly

    Really good and informational article. I’ve seen kittens with this but didn’t know just what the cause was. So glad this beautiful little girl is doing so well, oh and wishing her a very Happy Birthday too!

  13. Reply

    da tabbies o trout towne

    sophie…total lee awesum mewvie….we gived it 984 paws UP !!!! it bee veree nice oh yur brother in law…Sampson ♥ N de pup ta help ewe get up stairz ……N yur boat drivin skillz ROCK !!! thanx for sharin yur storee….we bee lookin forwerd ta lurnin mor ~~

  14. Reply


    Hi Sampson and family. First I want to say I am sorry that Sophie has to deal with such challenges. That being said she is cute as can be and has such spirit! Good for you Sophie! I hope you continue to find ways to make things easier for you. Your whole family is lovely. I am sorry some of you have ended up with challenges but you guys are lucky to have each other.
    Luvs to y’all!

  15. Reply


    LOVED that video!!!!

  16. Reply


    I am SO happy you shared this (and LOVED the video!!!). Now on to the second CH post.

    1. Reply

      Kitty Cat Chronicles

      Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed it. I like the video too. 🙂

  17. Reply

    Nerissa's Life

    That move with the tunnel? AMAZIN’! Wish I knew how to do that.

  18. Reply


    I had a cat like this for 7 years. I never knew what it was until today, he was my baby and I loved him so much, he was much more severe then your cat and unfortunately while I was talking to the neighbor he wondered off and drowned. It was the most heartbreaking thing that has ever happened to me. Ever since he was born his mother refused to feed him and his brother. So I bottle feed them several times a day I was only in high school when they were born so I actually snuck out of school to go home and feed my babes. Oscar died at about 2 months but Thomas O’Mally made it along time. He never could get into his litter box so three times a day I had to put him on the litter box between college and working it was really hard to do as much as I needed to. But he was a happy cat he had a pink box that he never wanted to leave. In the summer time I would leave him in the yard and he laid in the sun, in the winter he liked to come inside and lay on moms lap while I did homework. It’s been 5 months since he passes and I still cry. My boyfriend and I are looking for a cat right now and I was wondering if I could find one like yours. Where did you find Sophie I want to help another kitty in tommys memory. Does Sophie use the litter box ? And I rescued a pit bull and I am scared that a cat with a slight disability might not be a good fit? Idk he hasn’t attacked a cat yet he has already lived with two in his past but he chases sometimes.

  19. Reply


    We rescued a kitten and his mother the day he was born from bad outdoor conditions. As a few weeks went by we realized he had CH. Now at 12 weeks old he is a crazed little ball of adorable fun and we are so very in love with him. He can easily get up on the couches and hops down (usually) without too many tumbles. However, it makes me nervous every time that he is going to hurt himself one of these days. 🙁 Any suggestions on how to make this easier for him? Thank you so much for your posts! They have really been helping us out!

  20. Reply

    Ellen Pilch

    Excellent post. It amazes me how well Sophie has adjusted. She is such a cutie.

  21. Reply


    Really excellent post and full of great information, much of it I did not know – so thank you for sharing your knowledge with me!

  22. Reply

    Melissa & Mudpie

    There’s currently a kitty at our local shelter with cerebellar hypoplasia. I had never even heard of it before “meeting” Sophie and I think it just makes a kitty even more unique and special!

  23. Reply

    Christy Paws

    This is a wonderful post with such excellent information. Mom says she never knew the possible causes of cerebellar hypoplasia. While she was fostering she met a couple of kittens with CH but we never actually fostered any. Sophie is a wonderful spokeskitty for the condition!

  24. Reply

    Sweet Purrfections

    I’ve read information about Sophie before and have had the privilege of meeting her. She is such a happy cat.

  25. Reply


    I had never heard of CH. Lots of great info.

  26. Reply

    Tenacious Little Terrier

    I did not know about cerebellar hypoplasia. Great info. I hope Sophie continues to stay injury-free!

  27. Reply

    Spencer the Goldendoodle

    This is a wonderful post! You covered everything! Sophia has a wonderful, loving family! 🙂

  28. Reply


    Sophie is a cutie! And it does not slow her down! Thank you for the very informative post and for bringing awareness to this.

  29. Reply

    Spencer the Goldendoodle

    Wonderful post, packed full of information! Sophia you rock! 🙂

  30. Reply


    Sophie is such a doll! I’m so glad I got to meet her at BlogPaws last year. It’s wonderful that Sophie has decided to advocate for other cats with cerebellar hypoplasia. I love seeing how cats can overcome their disabilities. 🙂

  31. Reply

    Pawesome Cats

    I learnt so much from this post when you first published it. Sophie is such a great kitty and role model!

  32. Reply


    Thank you for sharing this information and very personal experience. I will share.

  33. Reply

    M. K. Clinton

    I have never heard of this before and this was very interesting. It sounds like Sophie is doing great. ☺

  34. Reply

    Golden Daily Scoop

    Sophie is beautiful and it sounds like she’s doing well! Thanks for sharing!

  35. Reply

    Fur Everywhere

    Sophie is a special kitty indeed. There’s so much she can teach us about overcoming adversity. I didn’t know all of this about CH, so I appreciate you sharing all of this information. I’ve shared it so hopefully more people can learn about it, too!
    Hoping I get to meet you and Sophie someday. 🙂

  36. Reply

    Cathy Armato

    Thanks for such a thorough explanation of Wobbly Cat disease. This will be so helpful for anyone dealing with this disease. It certainly doesn’t keep beautiful Sophie from enjoying life!
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  37. Reply

    Mary Haight

    Sophie is a darling cat — looks like she’s having a wonderful life! Thanks for the details on this unfortunate, but not fatal condition. Disabilities need not impact the full enjoyment of life, and Sophie is a perfect example of that.

  38. Reply

    Talent Hounds

    Excellent informative uplifting post. I did not know anything about CH. Sophie is so cute and you have done a great job. She seems to have a lovely life- happy b-day to her.

  39. Reply


    I’m glad that Sophie has you and vice versa. I know that your posts will help other cats with a similar condition.

  40. Reply

    Lola The Rescued Cat

    What a great post about CH. Thanks for giving us so much information. Sophie, your wobble is so cute!

  41. Reply

    Lindsay Pevny

    Wow, Sophie makes me a little dizzy! It’s amazing how resilient animals can be.

  42. Reply

    Melissa & Mudpie

    There’s currently a kitty at our local shelter with cerebellar hypoplasia. I had never even heard of it before “meeting” Sophie and I think it just makes a kitty even more unique and special!

  43. Reply

    Mary Harrison

    Wonderful information! Sophie is absolutely precious. I wanted to give her a big hug when I was watching the video.

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