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Should You Adopt a Cerebellar Hypoplasia Cat?

November 4, 2011

Many of you already know the joy that comes from adopting and living with a cat with cerebellar hypoplasia.

Photo courtesy MendocinoAnimalCare

However, for those who have not yet adopted one of these special cats, you may be wondering “Should I?”

That’s a responsible and respectable question — one that all potential pet owners should consider. It’s also quite encouraging for a CH cat parent like me to meet folks who are interested in adopting CH cats. They’re often overlooked due to their different abilities and limitations, but that certainly doesn’t make them any less wonderful to adopt.

CH cats can be some of the sweetest kitties you’ll meet. They often have incredible bonds with their owners due to the increased amount of attention and help they receive. But as adorable as wobbly cats may appear, they do come with some serious responsibilities.

Before you run off and bring home that adoptable CH kitty in your area, give it some time and serious thought. Remember, pets are a commitment for life. And while some shelters may offer lenient return policies (to ensure the safety of the cat), don’t use it as a quick out. Returning a cat can be traumatic for her as she loses her family, home and confidence while trying to readjust to shelter life.

So consider the following:

How severe is the cat’s CH?  This can range tremendously from cat to cat, even in litter mates. Would you be capable of taking care of a cat with moderate to severe CH? Or would a cat with mild CH be more appropriate for your family? Some CH cats may become more capable over time, but you may not want to depend on that.

Photo courtesy Jeff Sandquist

Can you handle a few messes?  Even cats with mild cases of CH can make a mess on a daily basis. This can range from spilling food or water dishes to stepping in their business in the litter box. Could you handle it if your cat stepped in her water dish four times before you left for work? (True story!) Can you handle cat poop? How would you feel if you needed to get up at 2 a.m. to bathe your cat after realizing she was caked in her business and litter? (Another true story!)

Do you have time for a CH cat?  Consequently, cleaning up messes and giving baths can take a significant amount of time. On top of that, would you be ready to invest the time and energy it takes to raise a cat? Are you prepared to spend quality time with your cat and provide ample playtime?

Are you around enough during the day?  Depending on the cat’s severity, you may need to be around more than usual. For example, some severe CH cats may need a good deal of assistance when it comes to eating, drinking and using the litter box.

Is your home CH cat friendly?  Most folks can CH cat-proof their homes without a problem, but some things like stairs may prove to be an issue. Could you block them off if necessary? Check with the shelter or foster parent to find out if the kitty has any other limitations or particular needs in this department.

Are you prepared for additional financial costs?  You never know when a tip or tumble will result in an injury — and a hospital bill. Would you be able to cover those costs? One thing to keep in mind is that pet insurance won’t cover any cerebellar hypoplasia-related injuries. As with any pet, also consider any medications, treatments or special diet plans the cat may need.

Photo courtesy Jimee, Jackie, Tom & Asha

Is a CH cat a good fit for your family?  Consider the temperaments of human and furry family members. Do you think they would be gentle and welcoming to the CH kitty?

After reading through this list, you may be wondering why anyone would adopt a CH cat — but I promise, if you really believe you’re up to the challenge, it’s an incredible, rewarding experience. But it’s certainly not for everyone, and that’s not a bad thing.

If you’re on the fence, give it a few days and wait for my follow up-post: 10 Reasons to Adopt a Cerebellar Hypoplasia Cat.

Are you considering adopting a CH cat? If you already have, what issues did you consider before adopting? Please respond in the comments!

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Cindy permalink
    November 4, 2011 6:11 pm

    I’m considering adopting a 4-month old CH kitten from the shelter where I work. I’ve had experience with CH kitties in the past, but never my own personal pets. I’ve already known about needing to CH-proof the home…but after reading this article, I’m now very very hesitant to adopt little Kiara (even though I love her to death). Can you give me any advice? Is the situations discussed in this article a text book CH kitty? I don’t remember situations like this with the previous CH cats I have known. Please feel free to email me.

    • November 5, 2011 3:20 pm

      Hi Cindy,
      Thanks for commenting! I’m so glad to hear that you’re considering adopting Kiara — and from what you just told me, I think that would still be a wonderful idea.
      To be honest, CH cats are more work, but once you’re familiar with your particular cat’s needs (as it seems you are with Kiara’s), they’re not really any more complicated than a regular cat. I’m glad you’re seriously considering this adoption, however, since any adoption is a big step.
      I’ll email you so we can discuss this further, but my gut tells me that if you love her to death, you’ll both manage beautifully.

    • Tammy permalink
      November 5, 2011 3:28 pm

      I have adopted 2 CH kittens in the past 9 months, I loved the first one so much that when the second one appeared I just couldn’t say no. My two are mild to moderate. When they were younger, they did occasionally step on their mess in the box but as they have gotten older it seems they have learned how to avoid doing tha too oftent. They occasionally will knock over their food or water but no more than my “normal”cats do. I really hope will consider giving this kitten a loving home. CH kitties are a little more trouble but they give you back so much more. I have never had two more loving cats with sweeter dispositions than my two CH babies. There is just something about them that is so special.

    • November 5, 2011 3:40 pm

      Well said, Tammy! Thanks for sharing, and I hope your testimony will inspire others to give CH kitties a chance!

  2. November 9, 2011 8:41 am

    We adopted Elf, a then-7 month old kitten, last December. I felt compelled to give her a home, and was fortunate to have learned about her from someone who has had a CH cat for 10 years. Elf’s mobility is limited, but she can use a litter box (successfully 90% of the time), keeps herself immaculately clean (once in awhile she needs a wipe down, but it’s rare), eats well (even if she flips the food bowl 50% of the time), and is really not much more ‘work’ than our other cats. We use a gate so she never gets near stairs, although I cringe when she roams and has to go down the single low (6″) step into ‘her’ room–our large carpeted office or into the livingroom. But the thing that is so incredibly amazing about her is that she’s by far the most loving cat I’ve ever had. And believe me, I had a cat before who was pure love-mush. Time and again I’ve read testimonies about the sweet nature of CH cats, and Elf is living proof. I love her to pieces, I know she loves me, and I’m here to say that with a little attention and care, adopting a CH cat is one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do,

    • November 9, 2011 8:50 am

      Thanks for sharing! I’m so glad you decided to give this little girl a chance — and a home. Elf sounds like an incredible cat, most likely because of all of the car and consideration she receives 🙂

  3. Debbie permalink
    November 9, 2011 9:40 pm

    I love Cerebellar Hypoplasia Kitties! Of all the pets in my lifetime the bond between our CH Kitty is amazing and simply cannot imagaine life without her!!!! Your page is amazing! I just never posted before! 8 ) Debbie

  4. Geraldine bowe permalink
    June 29, 2017 8:22 pm

    I met a 5 year old ch cat today that was surrendered to a rescue group by owner. Cat is extremely overweight 18lbs which isn’t helping her ch. I’m thinking I would like to adopt this cat . I’m worried because I live in a townhouse I have 2 lots of stairs I could put up baby gates but I have two cats 18 and 19 months my 19 month is blind although I laugh at that idea I say she’s my blind that sees everything she f sure seem to see shadows. My worry is my two get on really well, I don’t want to disrupt there friendship. No two they would knock down the baby gates they did it at only three months old. I work 12 hr shifts and don’t know if ch cats need someone around more I have no one to help when working. I really would like to give it a try the cat does hiss and give occ swipe than again I’m sure it’s scared and have to fend itself someway. I told the rescue place I would take him for 1 or two hrs Sunday to see how he gets on and how my two girls would react . That I feel is a good way to trial rather than commit myself and it not work out that would not be good I’m sure this cat is going to have a hard time getting adopted I would truely love to have it work out. I would apreciate taught ideas suggestions as I have no experience with this. Thank you.


  1. 10 Reasons to Adopt a Cerebellar Hypoplasia Cat « Life with CH Cats
  2. 10 reasons to adopt a cat with CH « Cats from Bulgaria in a need of a home

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