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Video of Special Needs Cat, Best Friend Dog Goes Viral

May 6, 2014

A sweet video has been making its rounds lately, perhaps you’ve seen it. Titled “Dog Befriends Disabled Kitten,” the video shows the special bond between Ralphee the kitten and Max the cattle dog. From the video’s description:

“Ralphee the kitten and Max the cattle dog are an odd couple who seem besotted with each other’s company after they were introduced following Ralphee’s rescue from a barn at a horse stable.

…Ever since Ralphee was brought home, Max is never far away. He appears to be forever curious and watches over Ralphee wherever she goes. Ralphee is growing more mischievous by the day and loves to see what Max is doing as well. She will often get excited when he is nearby and leap in the air before playfully charging in his direction.

Despite her condition, Ralphee is a happy cat who, like most kittens loves affection and causing all sorts of trouble wherever she goes.”

I originally saw it pop up on a Polish site, but now it’s being passed around a number of English sites, including Gawker:

The video originally caught my eye because folks have been attributing Ralphee’s behavior to cerebellar hypoplasia.

While I can’t speak to whether or not that’s true — diagnoses can be complicated as some cats are impacted to different degrees and may have other congenital conditions and not all wobbly cats are CH cats — I’m thrilled that the video of this precious little kitten is getting the word out about this condition.

So thanks, Internet! If you found this post via that video, welcome! If you have questions, I recommend starting with this post. I’ve tried to make information easy to find on the site, but if you have any questions, please leave a comment. Thanks!

May 3 was Specially-Abled Pets Day & CH Cats Made the List

May 5, 2014

I’ll admit – I’m not completely on top of things nowadays (when it comes to blogging!), but I did want to take a moment to give a shout-out to Catster.

On May 2, they published a post titled “Specially-Abled Pets Day is May 3 — Let’s Celebrate Our Handicats” — and in the post they mention a variety of special needs cats including amputees, blind and deaf cats AND cerebellar hypoplasia cats!

I was terribly thrilled about this, as it’s another sign that CH cats are becoming more and more well-known and acceptable. It’s a far cry from the tenor of conversation happening just a few years ago. That said, if you think your cat may have CH, visit your vet, as not every wobbly cat is a CH cat.

If you haven’t had a chance yet, check out the post. Enjoy!

Show Off Your Love For CH Cats & Help Other CHers

April 25, 2014
Here's one way to show off your love for CH cats!

Here’s one way to show off your love for CH cats!

Hi all – I know it seems like I’ve fallen off the face of the earth in terms of posts lately, but even though the site has gone quiet, I’ve tried to keep an ear turned to all that’s going on in the CH community.

And now that I have a moment, I wanted to make sure that you knew about something special. Have you heard about the “Keep Calm and Love a CH Kitty” t-shirts? They’re super cute, a great way to show off your love for CH cats and a great conversation starter, and what makes this even more wonderful is that each shirt that’s sold helps CH cats.

In fact, the original goal of selling 50 shirts, which raised more than $550 for the two kitties below, was recently reached (hurray!) — and you can still take advantage of this great offer and donate through the end of April.

Here’s some more information:



The campaign ends on April 30th. The shirts are $20.00 plus $5.00 shipping. Click here for the order form; if you live internationally, please click here. Of course, there’s no pressure to buy (I would never do that) — I just wanted you to know about the opportunity. Here’s who we’re helping:

Meet Ballerina, a two-year-old rescue who has not been spayed yet. She experiences episodes during which she attacks other cats and humans, which has led to some problems in her home. Those problems, along with not being able to afford Ballerina’s vet bills, prompted her mom to reach out to Deb Martin to find Ballerina a new home.

This campaign will help fund Ballerina’s vet visit, spay, and hopefully help them figure out her episodes.

In addition to Ballerina, this campaign will also help a one-year-old severe CH kitty named Stevie.



For the first year of his life, Stevie’s previous owners kept him outside — may I remind you, he was a young, severe CH kitty. On April 12, those owners dumped him at a kill shelter. The shelter contacted Deb, and two days later Stevie was rescued.

These funds will go toward Stevie’s much needed vet visit so he can be examined, have blood work done, receive shots, be microchipped, and he’ll soon be neutered. There may also be dental work done, as all of Stevie’s teeth are chipped from falling on concrete.

Again, there’s no pressure to buy a shirt or donate, I just wanted to spread the word. If you do decide to get a shirt, it will be a great conversation starter. If not, you can at least see how the community is coming together to help cats in need! Along those lines, a big shout-out to Deb Martin for all of the work she does to help CH cats and other pets. It does not go unnoticed!

Readers Respond to Love Your Pet Day

March 26, 2014

About a month ago, I learned it was an obscure, but sweet holiday: Love Your Pet Day. Now the reasons why we love our pets are many, so I thought it may be nice to ask all of you to write in to share why you love your pets! I heard from a few folks, and I wanted to share their stories and pictures here.

William’s note to me was short, but to the point:

photo“Wanted to show you our two CH buddies. They are very loving and try their darndest,” he emailed.

I couldn’t agree more, William! There’s just something inspiring about these special cats. Here’s a look at his Coco (the black kitty) and Pluto (orange).

Nori wrote in about her CH cat, Chanel:

“I never heard of CH before and I did not know Chanel had it when I got her. After I adopted her, we noticed how different her walk was from other cats and that she fell over a lot. After a ton of research on what it could be (some very scary stuff!) and a vet visit, I learned she had CH.

Ok, so this is new to me. I had just lost my 18-year-old cat a week before and now I was afraid I’d lose Chanel. Thankfully, being diagnosed with CH was not a death sentence! We just fell more in love with her and were thrilled she was ours to care for.

She is so sweet! She greets us at the door when we come home, sits at my feet when I blow dry my hair, sleeps on me all toasty and warm and purrs so loud that I call her motorboat! My family and I love her and have embraced her special needs with care and understanding.

DSC00089When we found out she had CH, I called the woman I adopted her from to ask why this was not disclosed. She apologized and said we could return her. Return her? What? We love her. We love her wobbly butt! I said, “Thank you but no. We will keep her and enjoy her for many years. Goodbye.” And with that, I hung up.”

And for Roz, sharing why she loves her kitties (right) is a cinch:

“Why do I love my pets? That’s easy!

Stitch may be wobbly but she is brave and sweet and clever and funny and so many other things wrapped up in a gorgeous little black and white package. She forgives easily, is 100% trustworthy and never comments if you have a bad hair day or poor choice of outfit.

Sonic is able-bodied but now lives with FIV and the various challenges it brings. Only rarely when she really isn’t feeling good will she complain, otherwise she goes about her days as though nothing has changed. I am sure that I’m not that resilient!”

Why do you love your CH cat? Please share in the comments!

The 2 Biggest Ways Our 2 CH Cats Have Changed Our Day-to-Day Lives

March 12, 2014

In the past I’ve written about how special CH cats are — and how they’ll inevitably change your life. I’ve shared countless tips and tricks from my own learnings and from others in an attempt to improve your cats’ lives and your sanity. And now, more than five years after adopting my first CH cat, I thought it was about time to sum up how our two CHers have changed our everyday lives.

I wanted to write a piece that would be essential for folks who were thinking about adopting a CH cat; a piece that new CH cat parents could turn to. I thought and thought about it, and I came up blank.

photo 2

I even discussed it with Matt, feeling discouraged that after all we’ve lived through, I couldn’t think of a handful of obvious ways that our lives have changed for our special needs cats. But then he reminded me of the obvious. Since the first day I brought CG home, we’ve been making small changes to accommodate his needs. Over time, those have added up, but they’re no longer changes to our routine — they’ve become a part of our every day routine. Things that once seemed like special accommodations are now normal.

I know CH cats come in all shapes, sizes and severities, but I hope this realization gives you hope. Granted some households will certainly be different, but I think the biggest change we experienced wasn’t in our every day life, but in the changing of our minds, rethinking what “normal” could be.

When I approached it that way, I realized there are two main ways we’ve accommodated our cats through the years. Once put into practice (as needed), sooner or later you may not even you’re doing anything “special” for your CHers: Read more…

Meet Shivers

March 2, 2014

If you’re facing the same type of winter that we’ve been experiencing in Chicago, then this CH cat’s name — Shivers — may be exactly what you’ve been feeling the past few months. Never fear, this 3-year-old CH kitty’s story will certainly warm you up! Here’s a bit more about Stephanie and her moderate CH male, Shiver Me Timbers, a.k.a., Shivers:

Does he have certain limitations?

Shivers is pretty capable. He will jump up on the beds and climb onto the tops of the couches to perch. He can not run very well and does fall sometimes and is also very nervous.

How does he manage the litter box? Eating and drinking? Do you do anything special to help?

ShiversShivers is very picky about his litter box and sometimes goes outside of it. He currently has two. One has a dome to catch all the litter that he kicks around to try to bury his poop, the other is a flat open one.

He eats and drinks normally, uses low wide bowls. He loves to eat and is unrelentless at feeding times. He usually puts the food in his mouth and drops it outside of the bowl and then eats is.

What’s one funny story about him (related to CH)? Or share a story about how he figured out how to do something CH cats “can’t” do.

Shivers still thinks he is a normal kitty and he tries to be brave. When we first adopted him as a newborn and we were unfamiliar with his condition, we just thought he was cold and constantly shivering so we kept him with a blanket and on a heating pad.

Has he ever hurt herself because of his CH?

He has had some falls but never anything that has caused him serious pain. He does vomit sometimes after he has a head tremor.

Each animal is special in his own way. How is he special?

This kitty chose me. We took in the whole litter after the mother passed away, she didn’t even clean the afterbirth off them. They all had leukemia (later turned out to be misdiagnosed). I had to give special attention to this one though and he immediately connected to me as his mommy. We have been inseparable ever since.

Have you found ways to help him with CH? How?

I have taken him to a specialist, and he goes to the vet regularly. I have tried (and am still trying) to figure out the litter box situation. I love to massage his hind legs a little and always give him love and cuddles. And I try to always carry him up and down the stairs because he follows me wherever I go.

Do you have any words of wisdom for other CH parents?

Be patient and love them. All animals deserve the chance at a happy and healthy life. They can not speak so we have to be their voice.

What do you think people need to know about CH?

The basics about this condition, and how rewarding owning a CH cat can be. This is not the type of condition that warrants euthanasia. My kitty is so special and normal!

What is your favorite and least favorite thing about his having CH?

My favorite thing about Shivers is his love bug personality. He has a sixth sense about my feelings and always knows when I am feeling down. Then he wobbles towards me and takes five minutes before he gets the courage to jump on the couch and then cuddles up right next to me and snores away.

Click here to read about other readers’ CH cats or tell us about your CH cat!

Check It Out — It’s Love Your Pet Day

February 20, 2014

Now, I’m not one for obscure holidays (National Nothing Day, anyone?), but when I heard that today is Love Your Pet Day, I knew I had to get on board.

For me, there are so many reasons to celebrate this day. First and foremost, because CG and Ellie make it so simple.


As much as our two look alike, they’re completely different. Ellie inspires me to want to love the way she does – with her whole heart and body every moment, while approaching each day and challenge without pause. Meanwhile, CG is tremendously clever and pensive, consequently you need to earn his love – but at the end of the day, it’s so worth it.

They’re my wobblers, and they’ve changed my life in ways I could never imagine. Living with special needs cats is the new normal for me, and it’s amazing.

And while I’ll certainly give them extra lovin’ tonight, the best part about Love Your Pet Day is that it’s a holiday we can celebrate 24/7. Could you ask for anything more?

In honor of Love Your Pet Day, I want to hear from you. Why do you love your pet? What makes him or her special?

Please share in the comments! Or if you’d like to send a photo and a few lines about your pet, you can email me! If I get a few comments and emails, I’ll pull them together into a post!

Our Landing Pad Is a Huge Success

January 31, 2014

In December I wrote about Alan’s great suggestion of placing a landing pad at the bottom of his stairs.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it could really help Ellie. Ellie usually has trouble transitioning from our last carpeted step to the hardwood floor. This has resulted in some tumbles and accidents — some more serious than others.

That thought of the landing pad stuck with me, and at one point when Matt and I were out at a home store, we decided to buy one.

IMG_1037We definitely went through our needs, or rather Elle’s needs, before placing one in our cart.

Need: Something that won’t go sliding once she puts her weight on it. Answer: We found several kitchen mats that had a grippy back. Be careful though, as some grips are better than others.

Need: Something that her nails wouldn’t catch on. Answer: There are a few cute woven or braided rugs out there, but I was afraid she’d catch a nail and make things worse. We were able to find one with a microfiber fabric that is easy on her nails and has held up rather well (so far!).

Need: Something with a little padding to it, just in case she falls on top of it. Answer: There are a number of kitchen mats out there that are a little thicker or made with memory foam. While the original intent was to keep us a little more comfortable while doing the dishes, it also works perfectly for a tumbling kitten!

Need: A mat that’s the right size for her. Answer: I watched her carefully to see how she would come down their stairs. Near the bottom, she would always hug the wall. This made me think that we needed to keep any mat near the wall; if we centered it on the bottom of the stairs, it wouldn’t be in the right spot for her. Granted we could have gotten a wider one that’s the whole width of the stairs, but so far our smaller one has worked perfectly for her.

Need: Something that she would actually use. Answer: Now this was a big question mark. I think we all could name one, two or twelve things we’ve done for our cats that they haven’t acknowledged or figured out. But, we wanted to give her the option anyway. Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait long. Right after we laid it down, she started using it. She even sits on it some days. I think she totally understood its purpose, and I really believe she’s grateful for it!

I know this sounds like such a little thing, but it really is a simple solution that has helped immensely. Ellie still has a little trouble now and then, but her transition from carpet to hardwood is now a great deal less dangerous. And I think we both feel better about it.

Have you discovered a simple solution in your home that has made a big difference in the life of your CH cat? Please share in the comments!

Huffington Post: Sorry, But Your Cat is a Jerk. It’s Science.

January 24, 2014

Why do people constantly feel like they need to put cats down? I simply don’t get it.

While that really isn’t anything new, I still get a little upset when people say certain things, like when the Huffington Post ran this post: Sorry, But Your Cat Is Actually A Total Jerk. It’s Just Science.

The post is full of intentionally inflammatory claims, which is probably why they decided to run it — because it would stir up controversy and conversation. Nonetheless, it’s frustrating to see these lies being validated by being posted online. Yes, I’m definitely taking this post too seriously, but maybe someone needs to. As we’ve talked about before, cats already have a bad rap — there’s no need for the Huffington Post to make things worse for them.

Anyway, here’s a quick look at some of their claims — and my immediate thoughts after reading them. What do you think? How have you reacted to some of these statements? Please share in the comments!

Claim: Your cat hears you, but she won’t do what you tell her to.

Not to play the obvious card, but no kidding. This claim goes on to pit dogs’ willingness to please you against cats, and I don’t think that’s fair. By and large, some pets are simply more responsive than others. A dog may be more responsive than a cat, but a cat may be more responsive than a hamster. I don’t think judging a pet’s responsiveness is a fair way to judge if he or she is a jerk. It just doesn’t make sense.

The author expands on this by explaining, “Cats have not evolved enough to become domesticated enough to obey human’s orders.” OK, well there you go. If they really believe cats aren’t domesticated enough to respond to us, then why are we even making this an issue? Following this train of logic, if they can’t respond to us, there’s no way they could do what we wanted them to do anyway.

That said, I absolutely believe that some cats can be tremendously responsive. They may not always come or sit on command, but I can’t tell you how greatly my cats are clued in to what I’m doing. You may say they are responsive because I fed them and give them affection. Exactly. Isn’t that why all creatures respond to us — because of some sort of benefit to them? Sorry guys, I don’t buy this claim.

Claim: Some cats actually hate the only thing they’re good for: cuddling.

Read more…

Meet Tumbleweed

January 20, 2014

We all know every CH cat is different, and you may never really understand that until you get to know a few — whether online or in real life. Trish has been lucky enough to know several! In November, she adopted her fourth CH kitten, Tumbleweed. Now 5-months-old, Tumble has already made a name for himself, and Trish wouldn’t have it any other way.

Here’s their story:

Tumbleweed is my 4th CH cat and the most severe. He cannot stand or walk and needs help drinking and eating (or course he thinks he can do it all himself). He came to me in November 2013 from a vet friend who works at a humane society. She sent me a video on Facebook one Thursday night, and I picked him up the next morning. I work at a spay/neuter clinic and an overnight specialty clinic so he goes to work with me everyday. Everyone loves to pick him up and carry him around so of course he loves getting into the carrier to go places!

Tumbleweed 1

As I stated above Tumble can’t walk; he’s learning to “swim” to get around but mostly goes in circles. For Christmas he got two tall cat beds that he can lean against. I’ve tried different food and water bowls because he head bobs so hard I’m afraid he’s going to knock his teeth out or get a concussion, but he’s slowly figuring out how to angle himself so he can do it on his own. Very messy! Makes me smile every time he starts throwing food everywhere, and his brother loves helping him clean up.

He of course cannot climb or jump, so at bedtime he screams to be carried to the bed so he can snuggle with mom. When he has to potty he gets squirmy and wakes me so I can place him in the litter box. He can “swim/roll” into a low box if it’s nearby and has only had a few accidents in the two months he’s lived with me.

One funny story: Every morning I let the two dogs and Rudy (my other CH cat) in the back yard. Rudy loves to play in the grass with supervision. So one morning I took Tumble out too. He got so excited! He was purring and rubbing the ground and then laying on his side started to run. Of course he didn’t go anywhere but he didn’t know that. He loves going out with his brothers and sisters.

One thing he does very well is play with his toys. He looks normal when he plays. He does it all on his side but is very aggressive with his “prey”.

Because I have two big dogs, I have large water dishes in the house. Tumble likes to do things himself, but we’ve had a couple of near drownings and a very wet, irritated kitten! I’ve tried water bottles (he bobbles too much) and different bowls, but mom holding his head seems to work best for now.

One of the techs I work with is a certified physical therapist for pets and we’ve worked out some exercises to hopefully get him upright and walking at some point. He loves when I stand him up and “walk” him around the room. He can sit sternal on his own now so he is making improvement.

I always tell people who see him for the first time that he’s very happy and not in pain and enjoys his life every day. He never seems to get frustrated with things he can’t do and there are so many things he can do. And if people still aren’t convinced I don’t worry about them because they’re not very open-minded. He’s my child and I would not give him up any more than you would a human child with disabilities.

My favorite thing about adopting a CH cat like Tumbles is the close bonding we have every day. We do everything together, from meals, baths, litter boxes, sleeping and going to work. I love all my cat and dog kids, but there’s a special bond with someone who needs you like that

My least favorite thing is bath time! He hates water and is not adjusting to a daily bath which is mandatory before going to bed with mom. He becomes very dramatic and then pouts for a few minutes when we’re done.

I think adopting special needs cats is not for everyone. It takes a lot of extra time and effort. I don’t go on vacations because I have three special need cats right now. But the rewards are only something another CH parent would understand. I’m so proud of my babies and will definitely adopt another special needs cat in the future.

Click here to read about other readers’ CH cats or tell us about your CH cat!

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