I “met” Lemon last February and was immediately taken by the devotion his pet parent, Merrianne, had for him and CH kitties. As Merianne says, it’s not always easy to have a CH cat, but patience, understanding and love can go a long way!
Lemon was born December 10, 2009.
How severe is his CH?
His CH is fairly severe in the sense that he can’t navigate stairs at all. It’s very hard work for him to walk, but he manages to motor (in his special way) throughout the apartment with some carpet for traction. He has a retro-fitted litter box which he no longer shows any interest in getting to on his own.
His head shakes a little when he tries to focus intently on something — such as eating and even playing, but there is no problem with this. He’s learning to pivot and can get on and off of the couch (a move that is difficult to watch, I must say). He can’t get on and off of the bed, but likes to sleep there with us and so this requires intervention.
His general mobility is poor, but he really does try to move around. He topples and pivots and this is difficult for the unfamiliar to witness as they think he’s in pain. We know that he’s not.
Do you have any funny stories that have happened to him because of his CH? Or perhaps a story about how he figured out how to do something CH kitties may not be able to do?
Not so much funny as troublesome. I’m not sure if your readers want to hear about the several bouts of the runs that Lemon had as we figured out that he cannot eat ANY type of kibble at all — his little system can’t handle the binding agent in the food. What a big mess — we were up all of hours of the night on several occasions bathing Lemon and cleaning the apartment. We don’t experiment with food at all now and he eats Wellness Canned Chicken (morning, noon and night — he loves his food).
Has he ever hurt himself because of his CH?
He hasn’t hurt himself yet and we don’t like to think about this. He did topple down the stairs to the basement and used up one of his lives. We have to be very careful about leaving doors open and limiting Lemon’s access to stairs. We would love a little helmet for him and our Cat Angel Evona (the woman who looks after Lemon occasionally) wants us to build him a little cart to attach to his hindlegs. I can’t see this happening, but she really thinks this will help.
Have you found any ways to help him with his condition?
I try to help by getting him to move around — his mobility is not good, but like all cats, he needs to exercise… So Paul and I try to keep him in some kind of motion throughout the day. We are very careful about what we feed him and we help him many times throughout the day getting to the litter, etc. It’s become routine.
First of all, folks need to know that CH kitties are fun and loving. They are in no discomfort. In fact, the most uncomfortable people in the room are usually the unacquainted with how CH cats communicate and move. People who are unfamiliar with CH can’t seem to believe that they function. There are some cases of CH that are hardly visible.
Also, I think veterinarians need to get up to speed on some issues as well, such as innoculations, potential future arthritic issues, and diet for the CH cat. We’ve heard different (opposing) things from different folks. We understand that there are a variety of views, but the medical community needs to work on communicating effective approaches.
Lemon, what is your favorite and least favorite thing about having CH?
Favorite thing: I can picked up and loved all the time. I don’t have to do anything.
Least Favorite thing: I don’t have a lot of autonomy. Then again, I don’t know the difference.
While I don’t know the difference, my humans, Merrianne and Paul are frustrated by the general lack of knowledge in the animal medical community around dealing with CH and its long term effects. We understand clearly that CH is not a death sentence, but in the more severe cases of CH, there seems to be a general lack of knowledge. We are very impressed by the ways in which the cat community rallies around this, through Twitter and other social networking platforms. We’ve learned a lot through this and the very generous contributions from the folks we’ve encountered online.
If you’re considering adoption: go for a CH cat. Be patient. Get paper towels and non-toxic cleanser. Love your kitty no matter what. Try to find an understanding vet with CH experience. Feed your CH (or any other) cat the best food that money can buy — don’t skimp on this.
Figure out what works best for litter and box. We are still working on this with very little success, but we don’t really care so much — he signals us and we do what he says. This results in occasional accidents… hence the paper towels and cleanser.
Get online and find your community — it’s out there. Lemon’s story is poignant and familiar to CH cat lovers. His pregnant, feral mother was found and saved by the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Operation folks. Somewhat miraculously, the mom survived distemper, and gave birth to six kittens. Four died almost immediately, one was “normal” and the other was Lemon, who showed signs of his CH within a few days. His mom and sister were adopted very early on in the process, but Lemon’s initial foster families had to hang on to him until he was almost 8 months old — which is when Paul and I found him.
I have to tell you that it wasn’t easy at first and we’ve learned to make a lot of adjustments. Not all CH cats are as high maintenance as Lemon is, but we don’t mind. We’ve found a wonderful woman who cares for Lemon when we go out of town. The severity of his condition means that we can’t leave him alone for longer than a day at work and even that is a little too long.
That said, anyone who meets him falls in love just as we did and we have folks who want to drop by just to hang out with Lemon. We feel blessed and grateful as Lemon contributes so much to our daily life. He never gives up and this is a lesson for all of us.