Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Success story-Snowball

Snowball is a very special 'Wobbly' kitten who was given her first home in February last year. She came to the centre with her mum & siblings but then developed a problem with one of her back legs after her routine vaccination.

In her foster home with her cuddly toy


Snowball with her siblings

All five of her brothers and sisters were adopted before her.

We couldn't leave her in a pen on her own as she wasn't able to walk along the cat ladder that she needed to use to access her litter tray

Di, one of our cat care assistants, was lucky enough to be able to foster her and in that time her mobility and balance improved more than we had ever hoped possible.

She has a 5 year old border collie called Dylan who Snowball spent lots of time with over a couple of months and she loved playing with him.

Snowball with Dylan the border collie



She was full of determination & character and did not let anything stop her from attempting to do anything she wanted.  She learnt to run up stairs and developed her own safe way of getting down.  She was a real little mischief, very entertaining and playful.

Cerebellar Hypoplasia is a condition which occurs in kittens as a result of interrupted development of the brain leading to uncoordinated movement or ataxia. Affected kittens are often referred to as ‘wobbly kittens.’ Snowball was not officially diagnosed with a condition but does match some of the following symptoms and this information helped us and her new owners to know what to expect.
CH occurs in kittens as a result of their mother being infected with a virus called feline parvovirus during pregnancy. It can also occasionally occur if the kitten is infected in the first few weeks after birth. Some or all of the litter of kittens may be affected and some individuals may be affected more so than others. The virus affects the cerebellum during the kitten’s development and it is this part of the brain which is responsible for fine-tuning movement.

Wobbliness becomes apparent when kittens first start to move at a few weeks of age but is non-progressive so does not worsen over time. Cats are affected for the rest of their lives, and generally learn to cope with their condition. Affected cats may:
• stand with their legs far apart • sway when they move • lift their legs high when walking • show nodding or head tremors, which may worsen when they focus to do something such as eat • lose their balance

Is there any treatment?
Once the cerebellum has been damaged in this way, it cannot be repaired, so there is no treatment for cerebellar hypoplasia.

Does a cat with cerebellar hypoplasia require special care?            
Here are a few tips to help improve the quality of life a cat with cerebellar hypoplasia:
• cats with cerebellar hypoplasia often appreciate a deep litter tray with high sides that they can use for support to balance when toileting, but make sure the cat can get in and out of it without difficulty. A large tray gives the cat plenty of space to move around inside it, and ensures it can’t be tipped up • affected cats can be messy eaters – feed in an easily cleaned area and use a sturdy water bowl that isn’t easily turned over – for some cats, raising bowls a little can be helpful • cats with cerebellar hypoplasia can find it difficult to accurately jump – provide easy ways for cats to access their favourite areas – cushions and rugs under windowsills can act as crash mats • use a ramp to give an affected cat access to high surfaces. Make sure it is wide enough and cover it in carpet for extra grip – again a crash mat of sorts can be helpful, just in case • Cats Protection recommends that you do not let affected cats roam outside unsupervised, for their own safety. Their uncoordinated movement may make it more difficult for them to escape easily from hazards. Keep your cat indoors unless he can have access to a safely-fenced garden or run. Make sure he is microchipped and you may consider carefully fitting a quick release collar stating his address and disability in case he escapes. You may need to pay more attention
to an indoor cat’s environment to keep things fun for him. Interactive toys and puzzle feeders can help to create interest. See our  Essential Guide: Indoor and outdoor cats • keep claws trimmed, as it can be more difficult for them to ‘unhook’ themselves if they get a claw stuck • carpets and rugs are often easier for affected cats to walk on than slippery floors

Most kittens are only affected mildly or moderately. With minor adjustments to their care they can enjoy a good quality of life.

Snowball waiting to be adopted

The kind of home we were hoping for would have a small enclosed garden where she could go outside and explore without the dangers of traffic.

We also felt that she would love a playmate to run around with during the day and snuggle up to at night.

Luckily for this little sweetheart, her perfect new owners arrived to meet her at the centre not long after she became available for adoption. They were totally smitten with her and felt she would fit into their family perfectly. I did a home visit to see the enclosed garden with specialist fitted cat fencing and meet her future playmates, a Sphinx cat and a Siamese cat.

Snowball with her new friends

She was renamed Tabitha and settled in very well. We had an email from her new owners and this is what they had to say : 

"We have had a few hissing fits but nothing we haven't been used to in the past and she is eating and drinking well. She is really starting to come out of her shell and I don't think it will be to long for them all to start to bond. We have spent a lot of time playing with her and coaxing our other cats together with her and we both agree we think Sookie and Tabitha will become the best of friends as they have already started following each other around. We both agree she is a very loving and affectionate cat." 


I have recently been in touch with them again to see how she is doing and get some recent photos of her.

This is what her owners replied :  "She is our little star! 
She absolutely loves the garden and in the spring/summer
spends all her time out there
but for now with the cold weather is quite happy indoors with her box! "

Having  fun with a box and a friend

Tabitha and her playmate


We would like to thank Paul & Hayley for adopting her
and giving her a happy future.
Lucky Tabitha a year older