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What You Need to Know About Walkers for CH Cats

February 4, 2012

Photo courtesy dogkarts.com

For some cats, severe cerebellar hypoplasia may mean a life of immobility — but it doesn’t need to be that way. Some very considerate folks have found a way to get these kitties up and moving around.

The original idea came from seeing how other injured, paralyzed or differently abled (2-legged, etc.) pets move around: Pet wheelchairs.

Call them walkers, wheelchairs, carts or whatever you’d like, but they’re a great solution for a cat who has significant mobility issues. While the walker may not immediately solve the immobility issue, it may help in three areas over time: Work on muscle development, help your cat become more mobile and increase your CH cat’s quality of life.

Many pet wheelchairs are available online; however, they can be quite pricey. However, you can easily make your own walker for $20.

If you decide a walker may be helpful for your cat, there are a few things to keep in mind:

Rita’s Gil in his walker

Introduce your cat to the new walker slowly. Make sure he’s comfortable around it before you place him into it.

If he’s uncomfortable, remove him, but don’t make the walker the enemy. Try to create positive associations with the walker (play near it, keep it out in the open so he sees it’s nothing to fear, etc.), and encourage him if he’s curious about it.

Once he begins to use it, monitor how much time he spends in it — you may want to begin with only a few minutes and build up from there. Using the walker may be a stressful and exhausting experience for your cat, so you may need to slowly build on how much time he spends in it.

Lastly, many folks use toys and treats to encourage their pet to move around. Otherwise he may freeze in place!

But how have CH cats truly reacted to walkers? The experiences vary:

From the moment Rena placed her Racer in his walker, he absolutely hated it. However, she says it was easy to make and not very expensive.

Gil in his walker

Robin had better luck. Her severe CH Whoopsy used a wheelchair for a few months when he was young to help strengthen his legs. While he’s still very wobbly, he can now stand on all four legs and walk several steps before falling. She said he’s just amazing!

Meanwhile, Rita says her Gil will only spend 15-20 seconds in the walker at a time, but he no longer fights her when she puts him in it.  She believes part of the issue is because the walker doesn’t fit him properly — the sling was too low and the leg holes too close together. She’s currently working on fixing the sling issue.

Does your CH cat use a cart or walker to get around? Did you build it? How long has your kitty been using it and how does he like it? Do you think your cat may benefit from a walker? Please share in the comments!

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. January 13, 2016 10:52 am

    My very severe CH kitty uses a cart sometimes for a few different things. A lot of the cart companies told me not to waste the money and that CH cats would always refuse to use a cart. $500 later, Danzig eats in his cart every day. I currently use a cardboard box to “put the brakes on” so that he doesn’t roll away while eating when he arches to one side or the other. I just put the entire cart in a 1 1/2-2″ high cardboard box covered in a plastic grocery store bag. I then put another cardboard box in front of the cart as his food stand. I’m still working on the sliding dish thing. I have some ideas from your site now. I don’t want to reinvent the wheel, but things are quite individualized to each kitty with CH. I will eventually move to a sturdier “brake” set up and feeding stand but as I say, we’re getting there.

  2. January 13, 2016 10:57 am

    PS forgot to mention: he does use the cart to get around a bit, too. usually with coaxing, but he will often take a couple steps on his own then just “hang around” pardon the pun! I think it’s a confidence booster- his body language is more “I’m a big bad cat” when he’s in it just like when I sling him with my hands. He also has gotten a little steadier and stronger just from two daily feedings in the cart- is slightly sturdier on his own- although will certainly never be able to walk on his own for more than a step or two or stand more than a few seconds. He also loves to “hang around” in the cart and play – I will dangle string toys etc. When I first got the cart, we did gradual time buildup. I also got him to walk many feet down a long hallway on his own with verbal and food coaxing! I am sure to always pull him out immediately when he fusses as I don’t want him to hate it. Most of the time it’s just for feeding or occ. hang around these days. Still well worth the $500 to me (and I’m not a wealthy gal!).

  3. Cynthia Fontenot permalink
    November 17, 2016 1:09 am

    My cat was attacked by a dog on his back end by the tail on both sides and is now CH and this site has given my husband and I some really good Ideas on how to make a home made cart for him thank you all for this site. This only happened about 3 weeks ago and he doesn’t have the life in him like he use to and I miss his feistyness now all he does is lay there and when he does move he drags both of his back legs and it hurts to see him this way. I would love to see the life come back in him. I have had him for about 4 and a half years. I got him from my sister when he was 6 weeks old.

    • December 15, 2016 11:55 pm

      Hi Cynthia,

      Cerebellar hypoplasia (CH) refers to an underdeveloped cerebellum or part of the brain. It sounds like your poor kitty has some trauma that caused paralysis or paresis. I had two different kitties that were paralyzed in their hind ends who were both paralyzed when very young and never needed carts because they dragged around happily, and I currently have a severe CH kitty who has a cart. I originally used K9 Karts for his current cart, and I am going to purchase a new one ASAP from Eddie’s Wheels. I’ve seen kitties rally after the trauma you’ve described, but it does take some time usually. Try not to give up hope! He may just need time, patience, and some creative help from you! Good luck!

  4. Irma Doctor permalink
    December 14, 2016 2:02 am

    Need a Walker can you direct me to the right direction my cat needs one bad plz help.

    • December 15, 2016 11:56 pm

      Dear Irma,

      Please see my reply to Cynthia above, but the short answer is that for my kitty, I used K9 Karts for his current cart, and I am going to purchase a new one ASAP from Eddie’s Wheels.
      Try not to give up hope! Good luck!

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