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Discussion Starter #1
Not sure if this is the best place to put this, but I figure it's related to health so here we go.

I adopted 2 adorable kittens in December. They are brother and sister. Juice, the orange girl, is a normal, healthy cat. Tumbler, my little boy, is very special needs. He has cerebellar hypoplasia badly and wobbles and falls over quite a bit. He tumbles down stairs and such, but I have cushions at the bottoms of things so he will not hurt himself. We also built him a ramp so he can do stairs like his sister but not have to work so hard at it or worry about falling.

Tumbler is such a sweet, loving, wonderful kitten, but I'm convinced that in addition to his CH he's somewhat mentally challenged. He is just nowhere near as smart as Juice and while I realize cats can have goofy personalities, Tumbler just doesn't "get" certain normal things. Examples of why I think he has mental issues are:

-He isn't afraid of really, really hot things like a normal cat. He tries to get inside the oven if I open it to take something out or put something in.
-If Juice runs in in a circle around a table or island, he keeps going after her and doesn't understand it when she comes up behind him. He's startled every time. He still hasn't caught on to figuring out how she does it.
-If he kicks anything out of the litter box from being so spastic, he has actually eaten his own poop, which I understand is very, very odd for cats. He doesn't do this normally, just if it ends up on the floor somewhere other than his box.
-He can't really clean himself and Juice pretty much does 90% of it for him.
-He doesn't respond to things like Juice does.

He does numerous other weird things that may just be weird and are not necessarily indicative of the fact that I think he's a little brain damaged. Regardless, I love him dearly and he's so endearing I could care less about any mental handicap in addition to his physical one, but he just doesn't understand what he can and can't do like a normal cat would. He will haul himself with extreme effort and use of claws onto some things that are too high for him. He is a persistent little guy who just has no fear. And then the only way to get down is to jump, or in his case, fall. He does not respond to getting sprayed with a water bottle. If I spray Juice she hates it, but Tumbler could care less since he's retarded. Loud noises also don't seem to phase him at all in the way they have a negative effect on Juice.
I came downstairs today and he had climbed his way up (no idea how since he's so tumbly and spastic) onto the very, very top of a recliner chair (on top of the headrest part - and was thus a little lower in height than my shoulders are from the ground). I nearly had a heart attack he'd fall off the back and break his neck. I went over to him and lifted him down and told him "no," but obviously I am gone all day and asleep all night so I can't do that all the time!

These kittens are the loves of my life and I don't want anything to happen to my Tumbler boy!
So...Any advice on how to discourage a cat with cerebellar hypoplasia (and perhaps some other mental retardation) from climbing up onto high places?
 

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How wonderful that you adopted both cats. I have never lived with a cat with CH, so I'm just speaking off the top of my head, and not from experience. However, I can't think of much you can do to train/discourage Tumbler from climbing onto high places, especially when you're not around. That would be difficult to do with just about any cat. :?

Perhaps a more successful approach would be to try to make sure he has a soft landing below things he might climb and fall from, so he won't hurt himself if he does fall...such as pillows, area rugs with foam cushioning underneath, soft folded blankets, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for your response. :) I do have some cushions in random places throughout the house, but can't have them everywhere as it's just cluttered and messy then... not to mention expensive to get lots of cushions! He's just such a "special" kitty...and I worry... I'm a pet parent for the first time, by the way... so I'm even more paranoid.

If anyone else has any thoughts or suggestions, I'd love to hear them.
 

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I have a deep & special respect for people who take on handicaped cats. Ive found special needs cats are more inspiring than having a normal cat.

My blind kitties climb all over the place. Its a natural thing I guess. We couldnt stop them. We had blankets and cushions when they first started their wild climbing. But they had the capicity to memorize an object or room so that helped. Sounds like your little man cant do that. But Im sure you will cat proof your home for him. Thank you for taking this cat into your heart and home.

I read about cats like yours on Best Friends site. They have a couple of them.
 

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Wonderful of you to adopt this special needs kitty. Apart from what others have suggested re kitten proofing a house, I suggest for your peace of mind and Tumbler's safety that you have somewhere you can confine him for the night and when you are out and cannot supervise him, such as a bathroom, laundry room or large dog crate. At least that would give you some peae of mind.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks, everyone. I adore Tumbler and his sister, Juice. I have some cushions around and so far so good.
 

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Another CH kitty mom here, I have 3 wonderful CH girls, oldest is 4 and the sisters who are 2 :) It's wonderful that you adopted Tumbler and his sister, you'll have so much fun with them!

We always talk about the physical limitations and developments of our CH babies, but there's very little information out there on their mental capabilities. Most CH cats seem to have average to above average intelligence, although with so much of our focus on their physical aspects it would be very easy to miss how they compare mentally. From what I've learned by reading about CH in humans, along with the delayed physical developments (all 3 girls of mine grew at slower pace than normal kittens, and are smaller in size), some also encounter slower mental development and/or mental retardation. So far I haven't come across these symptoms in cats but I wonder if we simply miss the signs or just don't have the ways to measure/prove it.

While cerebellum is most known for playing a critical role in motor control and coordination, I read that it is also involved in emotional functions such as responses to fear or pleasure. Tumbler's lack of fear for hot things may be part of that, but again I'm just making a guess here. You didn't mention how old Tumbler and his sister were, but while it's possible that he may suffer from mental retardation, it's also entirely possible that he's simply still learning certain things and understanding them in his own ways. What's most amazing about CH cats are their ability to adapt and you learn to appreciate them for the unique individuals they are, no matter how completely wacky they seem sometimes ;)

Keep him safe in the meanwhile and see how he decides to face his world as he learns more. They're pretty resilient, although SOME injuries are part of life when you have CH cats :p
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks so much, Babyblue033,

I really appreciate your response. :) Glad to know you. My kitties are 9 months old. They are brother and sister and I've had them since they were 7 months. I see distinct differences in their mental capacities and am near convinced that my little Tumbler has some mental retardation issues. I don't care one bit about it - he's such an affectionate little guy and I love him immensely regardless. His sister takes extremely good care of him and acts as a pseudo-momma to him, adding to my thoughts about his mental limits. I do think he is rather unaffected by fear and such. Your thoughts are very helpful! Hope to see you around the board!
 

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Hi,

A CH cat is also part of my family. To share my experience..........

My CH kitty, named Miu Miu, was born in May 2009 and was one of the 2 kittens in the litter. Both kittens look normal upon birth, nothing to indicate of any abnormal conditions. It's only at around 6 weeks or so, that I noticed Miu Miu was not moving much as compared to her sister, Michiko. Both the kittens were brought to the vet for their initial checkups and it was then that the vet mentioned about the possibility of Miu Miu being a CH cat. I was told that the condition would be lifelong but it does not affect her mortality, she'll live out the normal expectancy of a regular cat. The initial months was very challenging because Miu Miu had difficulties using the litter tray and also faced problems having her meals due to the tremors and instability of her neck. She was handfed and I had to allocate a very shallow litter tray to allow her to pee and poo (with occasional "mishaps" too). It took a few more months before she learnt to cope and accommodate/compensate for her lack of coordination and tremors. A close eye was kept on her, and it helped that her sister, Michiko, was constantly looking out for her. Fortunately, Miu Miu does not climb, but instead chose to remain a floor cat (if there is such a thing).

It was mentioned by the vet (and I did some research) that there are varying degrees of CH in cats. Looking at her, Miu Miu's condition is not of the severe type. She gets tremors (especially when concentrating on things), she moves like she's on skates and she needs to lean on something when sitting, else she tips over. Other than those mentioned, she is a regular kitty who loves to play with her toys, enjoys her food and is especially close to my son. Now that she is already 21 months old, she has managed her condition very well. She does not move much, unless absolutely necessary (meal times or playtime). When seated, you would have no inkling that she is a CH cat. And due to that fact, Miu Miu gets to accompany me to the park regularly. She just sits next to me on the park bench and watch the world go by. We get weird stares from strangers, some wondering if she's a stuffed toy cat.

You can have a look at Miu Miu at this post. You can also watch her and the rest of my kitties playing in

From,
Diveraz
 

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Arielle, I think it's just so sweet that Juice takes care of him so much, that they seem so closely bonded. My youngest CH girls are sisters but they seem completely disconnected and I do wish they were closer. Kiro, who is more mobile, prefers to be among the boys (all normal) and seems to find her less mobile sister annoying. It's interesting to wonder if things might've been different had only one of them born with CH, or maybe it's just sisters thing ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks, Diveraz and Babyblue033. :) I know a fair amount about CH through reading and from the vet, just like to get ideas and things from everyone here. Tumbler doesn't climb much at all since it's so taxing for him and he looks ridiculous doing it. He's not usually successful at getting up on things - only if they are things that are covered in cloth or something where he can use his claws to grip and fling his little body up and over. He's so persistent sometimes.

My thinking is that my Tumbler boy has fairly severe CH, though I haven't seen enough cats to know for sure. He certainly has the "bobble head" symptom even when sitting still, has tremors in his sleep or when climbing, and wobbles and falls over constantly. He hasn't really let it stop him - I think Juice, in addition to being motherly and protective, uses a sort of "tough love" with him at times so he will learn how to adapt. She shows him how to run and climb the stairs and waits for him to follow. In short, she makes him do things that he might not otherwise do if he were a cat alone with me.

He's much more of a lap cat than Juice and likes to be babied. I think what makes him really different from Juice (and what makes her care for him so) is more his mental capacity than his physical handicap. He's so clearly "special" and lacking in smarts in many normal cat areas. She knows this as well as you or I would. :)
 

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OH! I LOVE CH kitties!

I had a CH kitty, Buddy for about 9 years. He was the love of my life. :heart It's so easy to bond with a special needs cats. If you are a very nurturing person (and anyone who gets a special needs cat probably is) it's a wonderful experience. It's fun to look out for them, to make sure everything is set up for them properly. (the cat pan, the food dishes, making areas safe for them). Buddy was on the mild side of CH. There is a youtube video called "This is Charley" or "My name is Charley"--something like that. Buddy was almost identical to Charley in his degree of CH.
He walked better as he got older. Almost as if the weight he gained gave him a little better grip on the ground and he fell less. The other cats learned that if Buddy was just sitting there, or standing somewhere, they could run up to him and stop just before they reached him, and he would react by falling over backwards. They had a blast doing that, but I never cared for that! Buddy seemed really sharp mentally. The one thing he had that was different was a terrible RAGE problem. Once he got a little bigger, he would attack one of our cats and they would fight until blood was drawn. It was horrifying. We had to watch them all the time. Mikey (the other cat) finally learned when we said "Watch out for Buddy" he would run and get up onto the countertop where Buddy could not get to. Buddy "marched," picking up his feet high as he strutted around the house. Coal black with a tiny patch of white on his chest. I have too many cats now, but would absolutely love to have another CH cat someday. Buddy passed away last year in June from acute kidney failure. We tried to keep him alive, but he was in too much misery and the quality of his life was practically ZERO. We had him euthanized. I still have sleepless nights and crying fits over him. Two months before he died, our beloved "Baby Kitty" died (about 7 yrs old) from apparently a heart attack. Literally dropped dead in mid-stride. We have had a rough year. Now our 16 year old has lung cancer. She won't be around long. Our hearts have been in the "broken mode" for a year now.
BUT--back to the CH kitty, love him, love him, love him, and it sounds like that is just what you are doing. You'll learn along the way the things you need to do for him. If something comes up that you aren't sure about, just post the question on here. Seems like there are alot of people who have knowledge of these very special cats.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Aw, Bailey'smom - your Buddy is so cute. I love my little Tumbler SO much. I cannot get enough of him. And he is SO affectionate and loving. If I am sitting on the floor, he literally crawls into my lap and sits there and falls asleep. He's precious. <3

I'm so sorry to hear about your misery in regard to your sweet cats this past year. Hang in there and big hugs to you.

Maybe adopting a new CH kitty sometime in the near future will be good medicine for all involved! :)
 

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CH kitties...

Actually, I nearly had a nervous breakdown when Baby Kitty dropped dead like he did. He was our youngest cat at the time and it was so unexpected. My 81 yr old mother lives with me. She called me at work and said "I don't know how to tell you this, but I think Baby Kitty is dead."
So I rushed home and I held him while we drove to the nearest animal crematory. Then not even 2 months later when Buddy died so suddenly too......it was all just too much. We vowed that we wouldn't get anymore cats because we still had 3. But Buddy had been gone for about a week when my mother was trying to find me one night, and she found me in the bathroom, on the toilet, crying my heart out. Just wailing. She said "Are you still so upset over Buddy honey?" I nodded yes. She said, "I didn't think that I would ever say this, but maybe we should get a kitty." So we got Bailey. Then Bailey harassed our other cats too much (they are all older and didn't really want to play) so we got ANOTHER kitty for her to play with and they are BEST friends ever. They are so cute to watch....
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Awww I didn't realize you had just recently adopted some other cats. :) Happy for you on that front! While I know they don't replace your other loving cats who have passed, I hope they continue to give you joy.
 

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I've never had a CH cat or known one personally, but I can easily relate to how bonded one becomes with a special needs animal. The more reliant they are, the more strongly protective we are. I think it's wonderful that you adopted Tumbler and Juice. Clearly, they could not have ended up in a more loving family.

As I read your post, one suggestion came to mind that should help prevent Tumbler from climbing too high. If you keep the hooks clipped off of the tips of his claws, he'll find it very difficult to climb and will likely stay on the floor or low furniture that he can jump on (assuming he can jump at all). Clipping every 2-3 weeks should be sufficient to keep the hooks trimmed off.

Tumbler's a very lucky little boy!

Laurie
 

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Claws

That might be Ok for when he is young. I never clipped Buddy's claws because if I had, he would not have been able to get on the couch at all, or in bed with me. He really needed his claws, and then if he did slip, he would have his claws to hang on to the fabric with and not fall to the floor. (Believe me, I have the messed up furniture/sheets and other things to prove it!)
We had to keep furniture far enough away from the kitchen counter so that he couldn't find his way over there. That would have been a disaster if he had fallen from the countertop all the way to the tile floor. But he didn't have any way to get up there. He could get on all our furniture, the beds, footstools, etc. by pulling himself up with his claws. And then there were the times that he started to slip and the only thing he had to sink his claws in was my skin!!:sad Even with that memory, I miss him so much.
 

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Oh, also, I never had curtains with Buddy around (still don't). I didn't want him climbing up the curtains and then falling down. Keeping claws short might prevent that, but it also prevents them from having a little bit of a more normal life by being able to get to SOME of the places that the other kittens can get to!
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Yes, unfortunately due to Tumbler's lack of mobility, he needs his claws desperately to walk. He uses them to walk the carpeted and his carpeted ramp. Without the hooks of his claws he would be even more of a falling mess and would be unable to do practically anything. So, he shall keep his full claws. :) Lucky for me, we don't have any hanging curtains, so that at least is not a worry. I suppose I will have to let cats be cats and hope his sister Juice will protect him and teach him what he can and cannot do. They are 9 months old, so not little guys any longer and Tumbler hasn't fallen off anything high yet. The very few times I have found him somewhere he can't safely get down from, he is perched and sitting or lying down and I have lowered him to the ground myself. When this has happened, I am just plain astounded that he was even able to get UP where he was. It doesn't seem possible.

He gets much more worn out than Juice does, simply because everything he does is so much more taxing on him. Walking around, trying to run or "hop" as I call what he does in an attempt to run, doing stairs painstakingly, etc. all take so much more energy and muscle control than they would for a "normal" kitty. Even after trying to clean himself (cue head tremors and spasticness he struggles to control) he is out of breath and curls up to sleep for at least an hour, snoring away. I'd say on average he sleeps almost twice as much as Juice does. This works in my favor! I don't have to worry about him if he's sleeping a lot. :)

Note: He eats, plays, drinks, and poops just fine, so the sleeping is not a concern. He just tires his little self right out. :)
 
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