You may have noticed that some kittens seem to have trouble with their balance, trouble walking, running, jumping, or even locating items around them. These kittens may have cerebellar hypoplasia .
Cerebellar hypoplasia is a neurological problem in cats , as a result of the interrupted development of the cerebellum of the brain, which generates uncoordinated movement or ataxia .
The cerebellum is the portion of the brain that controls fine motor skills, balance, and coordination. This condition is not painful or contagious.
Causes of cerebellar hypoplasia in cats
The most common cause is an intrauterine or perinatal viral infection. In cats, the etiological agent is feline panleukopenia virus (VPF), a parvovirus
In any case, the typical causes of cerebellar hypoplasia are:
- Genetic predisposition.
- Poor diet.
- A pregnant mother with pa nleucopeniaor distemper .
- Viral or bacterial infections.
- Vaccination of the pregnant cat.
- Injury / trauma to the fetus.
Signs and symptoms of may be noticed at birth, or usually within the first few weeks of development.
Symptoms and types of feline cerebellar hypoplasia
If your kitty has cerebellar hypoplasia, you will notice a hesitant gait as she begins to move around at a few weeks of age.
Because cerebellar hypoplasia is a disorder that does not progress, it will not get worse over time, although they are affected for the rest of their lives.
Fortunately, cats will learn to cope with their condition and will generally live a full and happy life, albeit with a little extra care.
General signs of cats with cerebellar hypoplasia
- Rocking when moving.
- Irregular or uncoordinated walking
- Sit with your legs wide apart.
- They raise their legs a lot when walking.
- Tremors in the head, which may be worse when trying to eat or concentrate
- Loss of balance when walking.
Mild cerebellar hypoplasia
Cats mildly affected by cerebellar hypoplasia have some head shaking and body tremors, especially when they become nervous or excited. A wide posture can usually be observed even when sitting, as your front limbs can extend wide for balance. They will have a slight unsteady gait when walking and with some problems jumping.
Despite their movements, these cats perform well and require little or no additional care.
Moderate Cerebellar Hypoplasia
His movements are more jerky. They have more pronounced and often constant shaking and shaking, except during sleep. When eating, they appear to peck their food. These cats often stagger to their feet. Walking is challenging, especially in a straight line.
They have a tendency to fall after just a few steps, but they get up and keep moving forward without flinching. Cats with moderate hypoplasia do not jump, but they can climb.
Although they can use the litter box themselves, you should buy one with the lowest entrance possible. A covered box can also be helpful, or at least with raised sides for the cat to lean on.
Severe cerebellar hypoplasia
Cats with severe hypoplasia are much more dependent on their owners. They lie down and show inability to walk or even stand. They lack the coordination to do it, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get where they want to go.
They may need help eating and using a litter box. Being vigilant and recognizing this behavior will help these cats and make their life easier.
Diagnosis of cerebellar hypoplasia in kittens
A vet will determine if your kitten has cerebellar hypoplasia, and will try to rule out any conditions with similar neurological symptoms. Epilepsy and some infectious diseases can have symptoms similar to hypoplasia.
It is important that you provide any information about the cat’s mother, especially if she contracted feline parvovirus when she was pregnant.
To properly diagnose your kitty, your vet will likely need a CT scan or MRI of her brain, although some vets familiar with the condition can diagnose without this test.
How to care for a cat with cerebellar hypoplasia
If you have a cat with cerebellar hypoplasia, there are several ways to make life more comfortable and easier. Here are some tips:
- Set up a deep litter tray with high sides. A larger tray ensures that the cat has plenty of room and cannot tip over.
- Limit your access to stairs with a baby gate, you could hurt yourself.
- Think about their spaying or neutering. Some types of hypoplasia are genetic, so they can be inherited by the offspring.
- Lift the food and water dishes off the ground. This makes it easier for them to eat and drink.
- Be careful when introducing these cats to other pets, due to their vulnerability.
- Encourage their exercise and climbing.
- Carpets and rugs are helpful for them to walk on slippery floors.
Treatment of cerebellar hypoplasia in cats
Once the brain has been damaged, it cannot heal, so there is no treatment for cerebellar hypoplasia . However, most cats learn to adapt to their limited motor skills.
Do cats with cerebellar hypoplasia have pain?
Despite their daily struggle, these cats do not have any pain due to their condition. In fact, they do not know that they are different from any other cat.
With proper care and attention, even cats with severe hypoplasia can have a good quality of life. They enjoy playtime, cuddling, and love their caretakers like any other “normal” cat. Because they are so dependent, cats with more severe symptoms often form a special bond with their caregiver.
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