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From Reception to ER: Tell Everyone About Your Cat’s CH

November 26, 2011
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A few years ago, CG needed to go to the ER for urinary crystals. As I was freaking out in the examination room trying to explain the situation to the vet tech, she stopped me cold and asked “Does his head always shake like that?”

Of everything I had told her in a panic, I neglected to tell her the one thing I’ve learned to tell everyone who meets CG:

He has cerebellar hypoplasia.

It seems obvious, but it’s certainly something that can slip our minds. I’ve certainly never forgotten that my cats wobble, but there are times when that doesn’t seem to be the most important thing about them.

But like it or not, it may be.

Once I clued in the vet tech, she immediately looked relieved. “Oh good, otherwise I was thinking we had a bigger problem than we both thought,” she replied.

Fortunately I found out that she was familiar with CH, and had even looked into adopting a pair of kittens with CH. I felt comfortable knowing that CG’s condition was out in the open. When the ER doctor came in, the first thing I told him was about CG’s CH, and I left that ER confident knowing CG was in good hands.

I thought I had done my piece. I had told them about CG’s CH, and now it was in his file. I thought we were good to go. Not so.

On the second day I visited CG (now in a recovery room), I learned that he had multiple doctors and techs working with him. I also learned that they don’t necessarily communicate as well as they should, which I could understand to a certain point.

As I was visiting with CG that day, I was chatting with one of his vet techs. She mentioned he was messy: He knocked his food out of his bowl, kick litter everywhere, etc. I smiled and mentioned “Well, it’s because of his condition.”

I could tell that comment shocked her as she looked at me with extreme seriousness and asked “What do you mean, ‘his condition’?” After I told her he had cerebellar hypoplasia, she then became a bit nasty and responded “You should have told us about that.” (When CG came home I saw that at the top of his report it was written in all caps that he had cerebellar hypoplasia.) Regardless, it taught me that I still have to mention it to everyone.

So what’s the take-away? Remember these things:

Photo courtesy theogeo

1) Whenever you take your cat in anywhere — whether it’s to your vet (unless everyone you encounter knows your cat well), a new vet/ER, or some community event, remember that no matter how scary or crazy the situation is, you must make it clear that your cat has cerebellar hypoplasia. If those involved with your cat are unfamiliar with the condition, give them a 60-second lesson about the condition, your cat’s abilities/special needs, etc.

2) If your cat has to see multiple people while at the vet or in the hospital, tell everyone you encounter that he has CH — even if you think that has been communicated already. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Informing a doctor/tech that your cat has CH isn’t important only so that they don’t wonder about the wobbles, but so they can take other health concerns into account. It’s important for any vet to be aware of a congenital neurological disorder when doing a medical procedure.

Have you ever been in a situation like this? Do you have other tips or advice to add? Please share in the comments!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 13, 2011 6:56 am

    I just re-read this and it will be very helpful!..Buster has bladder stone surgery scheduled for Dec 14; I’ve already had the referring vet speak to the neurologist, surgeon and anesthesiologist, and when I take him in, I will make sure it’s highlighted on top of his file!
    Thanks Amanda for being such a great advocate!


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