By Ben Lehrer of Kitten Rescue
Cerebellar hypoplasia is roughly equivalent to cerebral palsy. The most likely cause of it in a litter of kittens is if the mom is infected with panleukopenia (feline distemper) while pregnant. The disease impacts cell replication in the cerebellum and they are born with impaired motor function. Severity can range dramatically; kitties with mild CH can walk normally with a slight head wobble, while moderate cases will be more clumsy and uncoordinated and unable to jump. The Powerpuff Girls have extremely severe cases – on a scale of 1 to 10, they are a 10. They will never walk.
This doesn’t impact their comfort level or mood in the slightest. They are the happiest kittens and purr the second you touch them. For better or for worse, they don’t know that they’re different.
From a caretaking perspective, it does mean that they’ll never be able to use a litter box the way a normal kitten would. Feeding can be a full contact sport, so frequent cleanings are par for the course. As well as frequent baths, since they are prone to peeing and pooping on themselves (bless their hearts). We can mitigate the impact of this by manually pottying them (which we do a few times a day), and by doing physical therapy to build up their strength and coordination.
The carts that we use to suspend them are precisely for that purpose – we want to get them using all four legs, and it also makes the feedings a lot cleaner. We got the design for these from this blog: click here
Since we started the physical therapy, we have noticed an improvement in their coordination. When they were younger, they couldn’t even hold their heads up, and just lay on their sides flopping and twitching. They’ve developed some coordination and have started to develop a semblance of a litter box instinct, only with wee wee pads – they’ll crawl over to one side of their pen to do their business. This has been a very positive development from a caretaking perspective!
We will be getting them spayed this month and will continue working with them, and the hope is to get them all adopted. Obviously, it will take a very special adopter to handle them, but they’ve gotten a lot of visibility thanks to Explore.org and charm everyone who meets them in person, so we’re extremely hopeful.
Watch their progress here!