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Meet Tumbleweed

January 20, 2014

We all know every CH cat is different, and you may never really understand that until you get to know a few — whether online or in real life. Trish has been lucky enough to know several! In November, she adopted her fourth CH kitten, Tumbleweed. Now 5-months-old, Tumble has already made a name for himself, and Trish wouldn’t have it any other way.

Here’s their story:

Tumbleweed is my 4th CH cat and the most severe. He cannot stand or walk and needs help drinking and eating (or course he thinks he can do it all himself). He came to me in November 2013 from a vet friend who works at a humane society. She sent me a video on Facebook one Thursday night, and I picked him up the next morning. I work at a spay/neuter clinic and an overnight specialty clinic so he goes to work with me everyday. Everyone loves to pick him up and carry him around so of course he loves getting into the carrier to go places!

Tumbleweed 1

As I stated above Tumble can’t walk; he’s learning to “swim” to get around but mostly goes in circles. For Christmas he got two tall cat beds that he can lean against. I’ve tried different food and water bowls because he head bobs so hard I’m afraid he’s going to knock his teeth out or get a concussion, but he’s slowly figuring out how to angle himself so he can do it on his own. Very messy! Makes me smile every time he starts throwing food everywhere, and his brother loves helping him clean up.

He of course cannot climb or jump, so at bedtime he screams to be carried to the bed so he can snuggle with mom. When he has to potty he gets squirmy and wakes me so I can place him in the litter box. He can “swim/roll” into a low box if it’s nearby and has only had a few accidents in the two months he’s lived with me.

One funny story: Every morning I let the two dogs and Rudy (my other CH cat) in the back yard. Rudy loves to play in the grass with supervision. So one morning I took Tumble out too. He got so excited! He was purring and rubbing the ground and then laying on his side started to run. Of course he didn’t go anywhere but he didn’t know that. He loves going out with his brothers and sisters.

One thing he does very well is play with his toys. He looks normal when he plays. He does it all on his side but is very aggressive with his “prey”.

Because I have two big dogs, I have large water dishes in the house. Tumble likes to do things himself, but we’ve had a couple of near drownings and a very wet, irritated kitten! I’ve tried water bottles (he bobbles too much) and different bowls, but mom holding his head seems to work best for now.

One of the techs I work with is a certified physical therapist for pets and we’ve worked out some exercises to hopefully get him upright and walking at some point. He loves when I stand him up and “walk” him around the room. He can sit sternal on his own now so he is making improvement.

I always tell people who see him for the first time that he’s very happy and not in pain and enjoys his life every day. He never seems to get frustrated with things he can’t do and there are so many things he can do. And if people still aren’t convinced I don’t worry about them because they’re not very open-minded. He’s my child and I would not give him up any more than you would a human child with disabilities.

My favorite thing about adopting a CH cat like Tumbles is the close bonding we have every day. We do everything together, from meals, baths, litter boxes, sleeping and going to work. I love all my cat and dog kids, but there’s a special bond with someone who needs you like that

My least favorite thing is bath time! He hates water and is not adjusting to a daily bath which is mandatory before going to bed with mom. He becomes very dramatic and then pouts for a few minutes when we’re done.

I think adopting special needs cats is not for everyone. It takes a lot of extra time and effort. I don’t go on vacations because I have three special need cats right now. But the rewards are only something another CH parent would understand. I’m so proud of my babies and will definitely adopt another special needs cat in the future.

Click here to read about other readers’ CH cats or tell us about your CH cat!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. January 20, 2014 8:17 am

    This weekend I had been feeling particularly down about my 5 year-old CA cat, Elvis. Until I read about Tumbleweed that is! I hadn’t realised that CH cats can have such similar symptoms to cerebellar abiotrophy in terms of mobility, behaviour and communication. Elvis does very similar things to Tumbleweed (e.g. getting squirmy when he needs the litter tray, calling when he needs me, being a messy eater!). Elvis also loves to try and pull himself to standing and is so pleased with himself when he can stay upright for a second or two! Sadly, physical therapy would not help his condition – at least not to my knowledge – I’d be thrilled to be proven wrong! Other than that, I connected very strongly with this article and I feel absolutely the same way about the special bond. Thank you so much for sharing Tumbleweed’s story.

  2. January 20, 2014 2:32 pm

    I foster animals (mostly cats) for my local animal shelter, which is how I got Jo Jo, my CH kitty. One of our foster volunteers has had a lot of advanced emergency medical training and she specializes in fostering “lost causes,” animals who need extensive treatment, IV liquids, round-the-clock monitoring, etc. She reasons that there are many foster volunteers who can take healthy animals, but only a few who can deal with complex medical issues, so she only takes those animals no one else can deal with. I think it’s really good that there are people who can take care of the special animals who make life with them so fulfilling. Jo Jo is so incredibly affectionate.

  3. Brian permalink
    January 20, 2014 8:18 pm

    A beautiful kitty with a wonderful family, I thank you for taking the time and effort to give this cat a wonderful home. Blinky, our CH cat is only a mild case so isnt much harder to look after than a regular cat which makes me feel a little guilty sometimes. Oh and I love the name ;)

  4. January 21, 2014 9:09 am

    One of the greatest stories I read here about CH cats and their owners! Thanks for taking him in and allowing him a great life. I have two CH cats and my Mom has one. One is moderate, the rest are mild CH.

    Do you think Tumbleweed might benefit from a cat wheelchair with four wheels, support him and balance him while he propels with either front or rear legs?

  5. Vickie permalink
    January 22, 2014 7:26 pm

    I have two CH cats and we love them dearly. We do not go on vacations either. We went to a funeral that was an overnight stay. Worried the whole time that my son was not taking care of our two CH cats, they are 14 years old now. The smaller one has to take a heart pill daily to slow down her heart beat.

  6. Sherry Gould permalink
    January 25, 2014 9:54 pm

    I loved reading this share. CH kitties are great
    Thankyou for sharing on your doll

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