You may notice one day that your kitten has problems maintaining its balance. This can hinder their ability to walk, run, jump, and even eat and drink. Your cat may have a neurological condition known as feline cerebellar hypoplasia or wobbly cat syndrome. It is a condition that forms within the womb when the cerebellum of the brain does not form and develop properly.
Your cat’s overall coordination is affected by this condition, so they may need assistance doing some things that would normally be simple for them. Thankfully, this condition does not cause your cat to experience pain. Here, you will learn more about wobbly cat syndrome and how you can properly take care of your cat if they have it.
Wobbly Cat Syndrome Causes
One of the most basic reasons of feline cerebellar hypoplasia comes from pregnant felines being infected with feline panleukopenia virus, otherwise known as feline distemper. The virus affects the unborn kittens in the womb, especially when the cerebellum starts to heavily develop. Any of the unborn kittens can be affected, whether it is just one or all of them.
Another cause of wobbly cat syndrome is a kitten experiencing brain trauma while the cerebellum is still in its developmental stages. During this stage, the kittens are more vulnerable to inflammatory diseases and other types of health conditions that could hinder their development. It can only affect the kittens during their major developmental stages, not later in their lives.
Cerebellar Hypoplasia Symptoms
Many of the symptoms of feline cerebellar hypoplasia are quite easy to identify. There is a good reason that a common nickname for this condition is “wobbly cat syndrome”.
You may be able to identify the symptoms early on in your cat’s life, and from there you can figure out how to properly care for them. The severity of feline cerebellar hypoplasia can vary from one cat to another, so that is something you should keep in mind when you are providing proper care to your cat.
Many of the symptoms include swaying, lack of proper coordination, constantly holding a wide legged stance, bobbing their heads, head tremors, and many more. Feline cerebellar hypoplasia has a huge effect on your cat’s coordination. You will have an easier time of picking up the signs of this condition when your cat starts walking and running around.
One of the easiest signs to pick up on is whether or not they sway when they move or stand with their legs a little too far apart. They will have less balance than cats without the condition, so you can observe how the other kittens move and compare them to how the kitten affected by it moves.
Prevention and care
Feline cerebellar hypoplasia can actually be prevented by getting your cat vaccinated against feline distemper before pregnancy. Cats can be vaccinated between the first 6-8 weeks of their lives. It is important that you are able to give them the proper vaccines so their kittens do not get wobbly cat syndrome. There is no treatment for this condition if your cat has it, however. If your cat already has it, you will need to take extra steps to ensure they get the proper care they need to live a happy and healthy life.
This condition is also not contagious, so it cannot affect other cats around them. It is also entirely possible to help your cat adjust to feline cerebellar hypoplasia.
Over a certain period of time with proper care, your cat will be able to live without any issues. You will just have to provide them the proper modifications around your home, such as raised bowls and areas they can walk around easily. They can have a normal lifespan if they receive the proper care and modifications they need.
Can they go outside?
It is heavily advised to keep cats with feline cerebellar hypoplasia inside your house. They have an even higher chance of getting injured if they are left outside unsupervised. Their lack of balance and coordination will make it much harder to protect themselves if they run into anything that could hurt them.
You can create a little fenced area or keep them on the run if you want to give them some supervised outside time. Otherwise, it is best to keep them solely indoors where you can keep an eye on them.
If they have a tendency of finding their way outside of the house, it might be useful to get them microchipped so you can have an easier time of finding them. While they are inside, give them plenty of toys so they will not be bored. Whatever you decide to do, make sure they will be able to remain safe and under your careful supervision.
Can you declaw your cat?
Declawing your cat is heavily discouraged whether or not your cat has feline cerebellar syndrome. Declawing your cat is basically like removing important limbs. It can be especially dangerous for cats with wobbly cat syndrome. They will need to use their claws to keep their balance and climb in different areas since they are usually unable to jump. Without their claws, they will not be able to get around properly and this can cause many other problems to occur. It is best to let your cat to keep their claws.
What modifications will your cat need?
Your cat will need many special modifications in order to make it easier for them to live their lives.
If you have stairs in your house, you will have to set up baby gates to keep your cat from falling on them. They will be more stable on flat ground, but it could be dangerous for them to fall down the stairs due to losing their balance. It might also be imperative to set down some non-slip mats if you have slick floors so they can stay balanced.
Place them under your cat’s food and water bowl as well to keep them from sliding around on the floor.
Your cat’s water bowls will need to be raised off of the floor to give them easier access to them. It can also be more helpful if the bowls are wider so your cats can have an easier time eating and drinking. Placing a non-slip mat under the bowls will also ensure that your cat will not slip while they are using the bowls. It is also important to let your cats have an easy way of accessing their litter box.
Giving them a ramp to help them get in and out of their litter box will help them out a bunch. Or check out the Best Steps for Cats with Arthritis
Introducing them to new cats
If you plan on having more cats or other cats in your house, you will have to be cautious when meeting your cat to them. They will be more vulnerable to them, and this can become a problem if your new pet is rambunctious or has a hard time socializing. Always supervise both pets and make sure they get along well before fully introducing them to each other.
They may be more intimidated with bigger animals and will likely get injured if the other pet wants to attack or play with them. Large dogs are pets you will have to be especially careful with when it comes to socializing your cat with them.
Now that you know more about feline cerebellar hypoplasia, you will know how to help take care of your cat if they have that condition. They will be able to live for as long as cats who are not affected by it and will not even need to go to the vet more often as long as they are receiving proper care at home.
Giving them proper supervision and the modifications they will need around the house will make their lives much easier. Spaying or neutering your cat may also have a few benefits, as well as encouraging them to climb and exercise as regularly as possible.