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Can’t Keep Your CH Cat? Here’s What To Do.

August 19, 2012

The decision to surrender your CH cat can be a gut-wrenching one. These fuzzballs can be our constant companions, best friends, or sometimes just a warm body. But no matter what your relationship is with your cat, finding a new home for your feline can be a challenge.

Photo courtesy Wally Hartshorn.

Here are some tips if you ever find yourself in that predicament.

Depending on the situation, reconsider. 

One of the many responsibilities of being a pet owner is understanding that your pet is a commitment for life. That said, cats lose their homes for many reasons, everything from behavioral problems to a roommate suddenly developing allergies to a couple moving overseas.

To be honest, I’ve become (maybe unnecessarily) cynical when it comes to folks giving up their pets. While volunteering at my local shelter for the past few years, I’ve heard all sorts of reasons from the most flippant and irresponsible to those where you truly see it as the person’s very last resort.

If giving up your cat isn’t the last resort, please reevaluate the situation and try to find a way to make your cat a part of your future. For example, many behavioral problems can be corrected with a simple life change and some patience. Some folks who are allergic to cats turn to shots to help them with their allergies. Similarly, it’s not impossible to move with your cat to another country. Sure all of these solutions require a little work, but aren’t our CH cats worth it?

Unfortunately, some situations are simply more complicated than those. I remember hearing about one man who was called to go overseas for the army; he had two weeks to find a new home for his CH cat. He was devastated, but made it a priority to find his cat a new home before he left.

If you absolutely have to surrender your cat for a few weeks or a lifetime, please consider these options:

Turn to a family member.

Hopefully you’re close to someone in your family who loves you and appreciates your CH cat. This person should be your first option for several reasons:

  • They know you best: They know your situation and are most likely to help you out in a time of need.
  • They know your cat: They should be somewhat familiar with your cat, his antics, needs and habits.
  • You can visit your cat: No matter if you move out-of-town or out of the country, if you come back to visit, you can always visit your cat, too.
  • You can always take your cat back: If your situation changes, odds are they’ll likely return your cat. That is, unless they fall in love with him!

Approach a close friend or friend-of-a-friend.

Photo courtesy Brandi Miller.

Of course you’ll want to start with your closest circle of friends and move from there. Like family, close friends are the next most logical option to help out.

One thing to keep in mind is that most people have the number of pets they desire. Consequently, you may have a more difficult time finding someone who’s willing to take in your special needs cat. You may be lucky enough to have a friends with big hearts, but that doesn’t guarantee that they’re the right person or can afford to adopt your cat, too. Make the decision wisely.

One suggestion to sweeten the deal is to offer some sort of financial assistance, especially if the situation isn’t permanent or if your cat requires special care like prescription food or frequent vet visits.

Network to find your cat a home.

Reach out to the folks at the Cerebellar Hypoplasia Cats and Kittens Facebook group. A few of the dedicated are currently creating a list of people around the country who may be able to help if a CH cat needs help. Some of them may want to adopt, others may be able to foster, and still others are connections to shelters.

Join the group and post your situation there. Odds are someone will contact you in a few hours and get the ball rolling.

It’s a tough truth, but please keep in mind that many of the cats these wonderful people try to help on a daily basis are emergency cases. That may mean that a cat facing euthanasia may receive priority over your cat. There’s also no guarantee that your cat will be re-homed or fostered, which is why we suggest reaching out to family and friends first.

Visit your local shelter.

Photo courtesy IndyDina with Mr. Wonderful

*Some folks in the CH community highly recommend against surrendering your CH cat to a shelter. At kill shelters, CH cats, who are considered less adoptable, may be the first ones to be euthanized. That said, please take this into considering when visiting your local shelter.*

Take an afternoon to go over to your local shelter and explain your situation. Find out if they have space for your cat, or if they can recommend another shelter nearby that may be able to help.

Depending on the severity of your cat’s CH, they may recommend your cat being placed in a foster home. If they don’t have any openings, ask if they have any other suggestions.

If they can take in your cat, remember that special needs pets have a lower adoption rate than “normal” pets. On top of that, house cats can have a tough time adjusting to the shelter life. Some simply shut down. This is why taking your CH cat to a shelter should be a last resort.

Please, under no circumstance should you abandon your cat at a shelter. “Anonymously” dropping off your cat when no one is around can lead to many problems not limited to forcing a shelter to stretch its already stretched resources as well as traumatizing your cat.

In the end, it boils down to this: While some people don’t really care about giving up their cats, others become heartbroken over it. No matter which one you are, please take the proper steps to make the best, responsible decision for you and your cat.

17 Comments leave one →
  1. Jacquie B permalink
    August 20, 2012 6:08 am

    I have no sympathy for people who give up their pets. There are very few legitimate reasons for it. VERY FEW. Our pets are family members who deserve the same respect and considerations as our human family members. Our pets do not live as long as people do, and older pets, particularly CH kitties are not easily re-adopted. They are overlooked and ignored simply becasue everyone wants a kitten or puppy. Just as with human adoptions everyone wants a baby, not a half grown child. I think it’s cruel to dispense with pets who know no other life situations. I agree with this article, a pet parent is responsible to find a family member or friend that will re-adopt a pet. It is less traumatizing for the animal. Allowing a seriously dependant CH kitty to go to animal control is like giving your beloved pet a death sentence. Very few people are willing to take on the responsibilities of a CH kitty. Most folks are unfamiliar with them and would consider a CH kitty defective. In essence you are sending your kitty to his death by taking him to the county animal control agency.

  2. Maggs permalink
    December 5, 2012 12:43 pm

    It is a tormenting predicament to be in and I would not condemn everyone as situations are very different.
    I am in that situation now , and I am still trying figure out a way t keep Little Stewie. My daughter found him on a road about 5 months ago(he was only 4 weeks old) and brought him home to me. He stole all our hearts immediately. He has taken to using any available corner as his bathroom (vet says it is probably related to his CH) We are doing everything we can to deal with this, but it is taking a toll on us all. And I may have to replace my living room floor. I am desperately loking for a place for him where he can have more supervision, but I will never place him in a shelter. I already have nightmares about it.

    • Linda permalink
      May 4, 2015 1:03 pm

      I have had the same situation with mine, Try getting litter that attracts your kitten and if you have a cage, put food and water, a litter box and a rug for her to sit on, I also had a kitten that I had gotten to be a playmate for my first one, and I was having the same problem with her I put them both in the cage when ever I had to go out and at night it has taken 3 weeks but now they are both using the litter box.

  3. May 30, 2013 11:23 pm

    We’ve just adopted 2 CH kittens from Phoenix Association here in France. They are adorable little boys, 2 of a litter of 5 but only 4 were affected with CH. Our 3 other cats are slowly getting used to these bundles of fun charging round the house – and they do charge! They are both very affectionate but also very wobbly. One has a more severe form of CH and gets around but falls over quite a lot, while his brother seems to be ok in a straight line, its when he has to negotiate doorways or furniture he has a problem. Does anyone know of any special bowls I can get to help them? At the moment we’re using a double plastic bowl which is quite firm and doesn’t spill but one of them tends to send his food in all directions.

    These kittens are a joy to have and I can appreciate why some people wouldn’t be able to cope with them, it can be distressing to see them fall a lot but they soon get up and run around again. They get lots of cuddles and fusses and I just adore them.

    • September 8, 2013 8:44 am

      We use heavy ceramic dog bowls for our CHers.

    • September 10, 2013 7:11 pm

      Great advice, Lizzie! We use those bowls, too. Susan, you may find some more ideas here, too:

    • Linda permalink
      May 4, 2015 1:07 pm

      I have a bowl rack that holds 2 heavy bowls one for food and one for water it seems to work good it holds the bowls up about 4 inches of the floor so she does real good with it and the only food that gets on the floor is what she takes out of it, no more spilled water

  4. Lynda Ammons permalink
    September 8, 2013 1:07 am

    I found a 4 week old kitten on the side of the road. I brought him home because there was no way he could survive on his on. I knew something was wrong as he could not walk, stand and barely holds his head up. I have been taking care of him & a vet confirmed he has CH. I am looking for a home for him. I do not have the time he requires to reach his full potential. I have two older cats and the female cat is very jealous. Any help in finding him a loving home would be appreciated. I may be reached by e-mail

  5. Sharon Steffen permalink
    September 8, 2013 9:19 am

    I have five fur ball from the age 12 to 4 years old. Where I live I have spayed and or neutered and found homes for 26 cats in the past 3 years that people have left behind when they moved from the Apt Complex. These kind of people make me sick. They have no soul. Recently, I finally caught a female who looked staved and pregnant. I brought her in and tried to make sure she was well fed and healthy for her kittens sake. It wasn’t to be. She had a litter of six, which two died within a week. Doing all I could for the other four I notice one wasn’t walking very well and I figure maybe he was a late bloomer. He was playful, happy and full of energy but, he scooted himself where ever he went. That was the first time I ever heard about CH. I love this kitten I’ve been calling Scootcher with all my heart but with five other grown cats and working all the time I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to give him the time and love he deserves. He is 7 weeks old and I have not been able to find a loving, caring and giving home for him. He is just a wonderful little baby. I don’t know what to do. The shelter is out of the question. Can anyone out there on this website find a place in their home for him ? He deserves it so much…..I wish I could post a pic of him. He is adorable.

    • September 10, 2013 7:10 pm

      Hi Sharon –
      I suggest re-reading the post that you commented on. It offers a number of suggestions for finding a home for a special needs cat. Good luck!

  6. Mary permalink
    June 8, 2014 11:37 am

    Hi. I am looking for some help or advice with my situation. And trust me, if you have anything negative to say i dont need to hear it. I am hard enough on myself.
    I take in unwanted cats. Ferals. Blind. 3 legged… i feed outside ferals. My life revolves around caretaking of these animals and i love them all. However as a mom of 6 kids, working 60 hours a week, sometimes more- i cannot pay my bills. Im on the verge of losing my apartment. Ive lost 100 lbs the past 2 years because i feed my kids and animals before myself. Im now underweight n having health issues too.
    That being said, and with tears, ive not been able to get 2 cats spayed n neutered. Thus 1 feral had 2 kittens 6 weeks n 2 days ago. 1 boy and 1 girl. The girl seems to be healthy and so does the male, except for his balance getting increasingly worse. I spend all my free time with them and they are so loving an cuddly plus cute as possible.. the male has so much trouble with coordinating his back legs. Hes smart as a whip although it appears his development and learning seem a week behind his sister. He eats canned kitty food and tries to drink water plus occasional short nursing from zoey, his momma..
    I need to place this most wonderful sweet and cuddly little boy in a GOOD responsible and stable home. Please, i am begging for advice on how to do this. Im at my wits end. Tomorrow is a housing inspection and if it doesnt pass then i may not have a home in a few days. Beides not paying rent, my home is falling apart and my landlord terminally ill. Ive done all repairs i possibly could the past year to help them focus on their family. But now im in over my head and with a heavy heart am reaching out for some help in the way of advice from you guys. Thanks so much. Thanks for just taking the time to read this.

  7. November 15, 2015 7:25 am

    Isabella, 8 months young~~~when she licks her paw frantically,I know a seizure is coming~~~ then she falls on her side and tremors, and gets up, wobbly, my Vet put her on phenobarbital. 2xa day~~~one side is worse than the other but she is a trooper. eats well. goes to the litter and so loving. My vet recommended to put her down or return to the shelter and I refuse~~all tests were taken and they don’t know what it is~~they want to do a MRI and I said good-bye! I can deal with it~~~due to me volunteering at a shelter I witnessed the gas chamber for all the animals that are unwanted, old or very young, it takes money, but what do they do with all those donations????

  8. Carol Bray permalink
    November 27, 2015 3:13 am

    I have two sibling cats that did not develop this condition until they became adults

  9. Kim king permalink
    September 15, 2016 7:05 pm

    My sweet kitty has destroyed the carpet in the house. We have replaced some and have to replace the rest. I now have her shut in a room in the basement. She is 4 yrs old . She was a kitten maybe 6 weeks when my sister found her. She could not take her so I met her in SC and took in this beautiful baby. We didn’t know at the time she was a CH cat. She was afraid of the world and would hide for hrs. After several months I finally got her to trust me. She is still afraid of any stranger and sudden noise. Her CH is moderate falls a lot head shakes. She refuses to use a litter box. She can’t stand in it . I have pee pads all around her box but she still goes all over the house. She falls over on her side most of the time to poop.
    I love this kitty but I am at the end of my rope. I can’t keep her locked up for the next 10 yrs. I would like to find someone who would love her and have the time and patience to help her.

  10. Denise Maddrick permalink
    November 19, 2017 1:12 pm

    I have a CH kitten, her name is Peppa, age 1yr 6months. I cannot keep her, moving and pets are not allowed.

  11. Helen LaTorre permalink
    June 8, 2019 7:49 pm

    Hi my name is Helen and I adopted an 8mo old CH baby and I love her to pieces. I adopted her from my vet I have one major problem. She poops on my rug and won’t go in the litterbox. I picked up herpoop and put a piece in the litter box and put 2 weewee padsunder and around the box, in which she just goes past it and still poops on the rug. I don’t know where she pees tho HELP ME PLEASE!!!! PS I have 5 other cats and one of them is blind

  12. Della permalink
    January 5, 2022 5:57 am

    I wish this site could be updated. It’s all from years ago. From my experience cats with CH , some can use a large tote box, some does not. They go on their sides on towels and throw rugs. These cats cannot use regular litter.The pellets are better if yours can stand to use the box.

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