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Cerebellar Hypoplasia

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Cerebellar Hypoplasia is a condition in dogs and cats where the cerebellum is not completely mature at birth. The cerebellum is the part of the brain that controls sensory perception, coordination and motor control. In cats, the effects of cerebellar hypoplasia are usually seen immediately, but can take up to two months to become apparent in dogs.

Jerky movements, tremors and uncoordinated movement, characterize Cerebellar Hypoplasia. The cat or dog will often fall down and have trouble walking with tremors that increase with excitement.

While the exact cause of cerebeller hypoplasia is not known, scientists believe there are some underlying things that can lead to the disease, such as genetics, injury, or poisons. There is no treatment for cerebellar hypoplasia, however, most dogs and cats with the condition can live happily with a little extra care to help them compensate for their disabilities. They will have to avoid areas where a fall could get them hurt and also areas where their balance could be an issue.

Here is what a cat with cerebellar hypoplasia looks like:

While she does have trouble walking. She is healthy, has good body shape and a nice coat. She obviously likes to play and she can pretty much function like a normal cat. She just falls over once in awhile.

Do you have a cat or dog with cerebellar hypoplasia? What are your tips for living with a dog or cat with this condition?

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16 thoughts on “Cerebellar Hypoplasia

  1. Lilian says:

    I have a cat named Louie who is about 1 1/2 years old with cerebellar hypoplasia, and I think he’s the best cat in the world. He recently learned to walk up and down stairs, which I didn’t think would be possible a few months ago, but he’s becoming a little more steady as time goes on and he learns to compensate. The only advice I would give to people with cats who have the disorder is to clean the litter box as often as possible. Unfortunately, Louie tends to pee on the floor when his litter box isn’t immaculate, so I have to clean it about twice a day. But it makes sense, because otherwise, he tends to fall down and make a mess of himself.

  2. Thanks for creating this blog! I’m looking for people to help me understand my dogs behavior – if connected to her Cerebellar Hypoplasia. Foxy is a 2 year old Border Collie mix with a hitch in her giddiap…otherwise she WAS going OK until these last few months. She now has regular attacks of weird behavior followed my vomiting! Yuck! I’m going to have to take her to an expensive neurologist soon if I can’t figure out how to stop this seizure-like thing on my own! I will post a movie clip of her doing her gaping mouth-running into things and flopping down to rub nose and head into the ground…thing….if possible. It’s scary because she literally makes herself sick doing this strange dance….brought on by over excitement (as best I can tell at this point). Though I wonder about toxins….or allergies….

    Any one with a dog with these strange symptoms out there? I would love to have a few suggestions.

    Thank so much.
    Robin

  3. kay beavis says:

    Hi we have an Irish border collie, Hallie, with cerebellar hypoplasia.

    She is 2 years old and the happiest dog alive! Her brother also suffers from the condition.

    We were told that initially that there were 6 pups born but 4 were destroyed,don’t know the full story, but they were from a farm in Ireland (where there are HUGE problems with unwanted litters of dogs being born)
    Due to her poor start (first 3 months in a shed, malnourished etc.), the conditions did not become apparent until after we had had her for 3 or 4 months. We had put her “clumsiness” down to fact that she had very little muscle definition in her back legs (she had difficulty staying in a sit position for several months).

    Hallies condition is not as bad as we’ve witnessed on the likes of YouTube, it’s almost as if she’s been out for a night on the town and has had too much to drink!

    We love her to pieces and wouldn’t change her for the world, and have accommodated her “clumsiness” into our general home-life (dog cushions everywhere, dog steps so she can get onto the bed without falling, baby-gates on the stairs so she doesn’t go up without assistance etc etc)

    One thing I will say, and I don’t know if this is the condition, or the fact she’s a border collie, is that she’s feisty, seems aware of her condition (as she gets frustrated when other dogs outrun her at the local park…), and doesn’t take anything lying down.

    She’s a bundle of joy, and despite her “limitations” if we had the choice over again, we wouldn’t have hesitated to rescue her, and EVERYONE she meets leaves her company with the broadest smile on their face that you have EVER seen xx

    • Jen says:

      Hello: I recently rescues an Austrailian Shepherd from a puppy mill. She was going to be put down with her unborn puppies. She delivered eight beautiful babies five days later. Sadie(Mom) looked very healthy and checked out well at my vet. Seven babies grew normally and rough house around the house. The eighth was very small at birth and Sadie kept putting her of to the side. Since I have never raised puppies before I constantly called my vet and bless her soul she helped me out when ever needed. So anyway, I took over the care of the tiny baby and she did very well until it was time for her to learn to walk. We made sure she was fed by Mom and the bottle as well as keeping her cleaned. She was at least two weeks behind her litter mates in size and the ability to walk. My vet says she had CR at four weeks of age. She is now six weeks old and is walking rather well with only minor falls. Her tail is constantly vibrating though. Her biggest downfall is when she shakes. She usually winds up on her butt.
      To make a long story short, I’m not sure if she really has CR or if this is delayed development. I would really like to talk to someone who has watched a puppy grow up with this disability. I would like to help her as much as possible.
      No matter what happens, my hubbie and I are keeping her. She is a real joy and have named her Peanut Butter from the time she was 24 hours old. She is still only the size of a four week old puppy and still two weeks behind in development and will probably always be behind.
      So if anyone wishes or has time please comment. I would really appreciate the help.

      • Gill Yarrow says:

        Hi Jen,
        Have faith, my little lad (the border terrier with the same) will be one in january, he has amazed us all, he was the worst of the worst and was 4 months before he stood properly, he used to drag himself around, now he runs everywhere, the tremours do not effect him as much or throw him off balance, I guess he has learned to live with it. We used to (daily) fill the bath tub with warm water so he couldnt reach the bottom, and swim him (make sure if he needs it you can support him) this did him so much good and improved his strength, its worth a try for little peanut (just make sure you dry her well if the weather is cold), also we used to massage which we think did a lot of good, its all worth a try and you cant do any harm. If I can help you further then please feel free to get in touch, we have to help each other as vets see these little animals as no hopers.
        Kind regards
        Gill

  4. Matt says:

    My cat, Silenoz, has CH. I adopted him from a pet store I was working at (after he had been returned twice for “not being right” – the CH symptoms hadn’t really kicked in full on – he was just very unique). He was about 3 mos. old when I took him home. He’s now a very healthy 7 1/2 yrs. old. I have two other cats I adopted, as well, and while there is no favorite in our house(!), Silo has the most amazing personality I have ever met – human, cat, or otherwise. He is super affectionate and more of a clumsy dog-type than a cat – he talks and plays fetch, and cleans the hell out of my head w/ his sandpaper tongue when I’m trying to sleep.

    I raised Si w/ one my other two cats (Galder) and they have also have a unique bond. Galder is Silo’s protector, even though we let Silo believe he’s king of the castle. When Silo has a hard fall or is having a “bad” day and crying about whatever, Galder will get up from wherever and always run to his aide to “clean” him up w/ affectionate kisses.

    Anyway, I could go on forever about how awesome Silo is but I guess I just wanted to share my story about living w/ a CH kitty. I am truly lucky to be a part of Silo’s life and wouldn’t trade him for the world.

    *If anyone knows of any rescues catering to CH cats, please let me know*

  5. Gill yarrow says:

    Hi, My dog, who is a very well bred border terrier has cerebellar hypoplasia, he is nearly 10 months old now, it was apparant he was a slow starter, he was 18 days before he opened his eyes, at about 3 weeks he was very flat chested and wasnt trying to push up on his legs. At 4 weeks he started with a tremour in his tail, which within a week became a full body tremour.

    Veterinary advice was to have him put to sleep, he had virtualy no reflexes in his back legs. The softie that I am took him home and gave him time. We massaged and swam him. Over time the violent tremours got less severe. We had to help him feed as he would bang his head. By 16 weeks he was walking, very imbalanced and falling but we were making progress.

    Each day he has improved and surprised us all, he is getting better all the time, he is now able to run (in his way), play and have fun, he can manage small steps and hold his own.

    He is a dear little character whom we are all head over heels in love with, life is a challenge for him but he is happy.

    Who knows as he grows a little more what else he will do.

  6. Alicia says:

    I have recently adopted a kitten with cerebellar hypoplasia. I was unsure of the condition, but knew there must have been some neurological issues going on. After doing research and confirming with a vet visit, my little Jitters was diagnosed. He is the most loving animal i have ever had, and doesn’t seem to have many other problems except the uneasiness, or wobbling while walking along with the head jerks. He seems to run and take a few steps then immediately falls over, but he is determined to finish the task at hand and gets right back up. All these cats need is lots of love and attention. I dont have a lot of stories on Jitters yet because ive had him less than a week, but am so far thrilled beyond belief with having a CH animal, even tho more difficult and needy than a regular animal, extremely more rewarding, i wouldn’t trade him for the world. I was extremely upset at first when he was diagnosed, but these types of sites have made me relax, knowing that jitters can live a normal, happy, clumsy life. I would love to hear other stories from people who have CH cats.

  7. Michael says:

    I would like to know if anyone with Cerebellar Hypoplasia has had their cat put under anesthesia and if everything was fine? I’m concerned about putting her under because of the disease. Please email me at lakersfan45@aol.com or respond here. thanks!

  8. I am a breeder of Minature Schnauzers, I have had two litters from the same pair, and in both there has been two small females that have been born with Cerebellar Hypoplasia, and both puppies are healthy and active with it. In both litters there has been seven other puppies in each litter that show no signs of this. I have been told not to breed my dogs anymore, and I would love to know other peoples advice, I love breeding and my female is such a great mother. I have been blessed in finding good homes for all of our babies, even for the two little girls with CH.

    Teri
    Louisiana on the Bayou

  9. Jennifer says:

    I adopted Bella Luna 2 weeks ago from an SPCA foster home. Their was not definitive diagnoses so they just called her ‘brain-damaged’, most likely cerebellar hypoplasia. The symptoms are identical and she was a stray rescued from a park at 4 or 5 months old.

    She is the most wonderful thing I’ve ever had in my house. Full of spunk, tries anything and succeeds in the end. She has enchanted and charmed all of my friends and family and she snuggles all night long and wakes me up with gentle head butts to feed her. I am in love and wouldn’t want to change a thing about her.

  10. Anthony Nelson says:

    I have a 2 1/2 yo Lab mix with this condition named Lucy. Her mother was a sick pregnant stray and 4 of the 8 puppies have CH. Only one died at a young age. Lucy has an identical twin (same birth sac) with CH as well. Everyone who meets her just falls (no pun intended) in love with her. Most people wonder why she prances about and falls down, but once you explain her condition they are just in awe of her. She is always a favorite at the bark park.

    Lucy cannot go down stairs, but she can go up. Hills in general cause her trouble, but she just trudges right along. When she swims she swims with her body at a 45 degree angle, and goes in circles, but she still loves the water.

    I recommend anyone who has a pet with CH that it is different than raising a normal dog, but anyone can do it with a little bit of patience. I treat Lucy just like my other dog, but I do have to keep an extra eye out on her when walking through woods and unknown hilly terrain. One quick wobble can send her down a hill or into the street.

    The scariest thing Lucy gets are seizures from time to time. She becomes very erect and her eyes will roll back into her head. Thankfully, they are rare and occur only every few months. After a couple of minutes the seizure seems to pass, and seconds after it goes away Lucy is just happy and playful as before.

  11. Carole says:

    Hi, my newly adopted collie mix has cerebellar hypoplasia. Can anyone recommend a leash or harness for walks? She’s afraid of many things on the street, which adds to the difficulty of her walking on a leash. Thank you.

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