Cerebellar hypoplasia in cats can cause your pet to develop tremors that may progress throughout their lifespan and if they become severe enough, they may never be able to walk or eat normally.
As result, it can jeopardize any type of a normal life. However, even in the most severe of cases, your cat can still survive.
Cerebellar hypoplasia is a term that is used to describe a condition where the part of your pets brain, called the cerebellum, fails to develop properly.
It will either not fully develop as your cat grows, or it will begin to degenerate shortly after the birth of your cat.
Although in can affect the general cat population, it is almost entirely found in young developing kittens that are younger than six weeks old.
It can be a very troubling as well as a challenging condition for your cat, but most kittens that are affected can still live a normal life if you understand this condition.
In fully understanding Cerebellar hypoplasia in cats, it is very helpful for owners to have an understanding of your cats brain, the major portions, and how it operates.
The brain in your cat is located within the bony cranium, also referred to as the skull in your cat.
The spinal cord in your cat is located within the spinal canal that runs through what is called the vertical column.
This column consists of your cats neck and back bone, and extends from the base of their skull all the way down the middle of their tail.
The brain of your cat itself is a mass of very soft and pinkish gray nerve tissues that are divided into three major portions.
They include the brain stem, the cerebrum, and the part that is affected by Cerebellar hypoplasia, the cerebellum.
The brain stem portion of the brain is located at the base of your cat’s brain and is connected to both the spinal cord and the cerebellum.
Most of the nerves that control your cats head and its functions arise from this portion of their brain.
The cerebrum forms the bulk of your pet’s brain and has two major parts; the left and the right cerebral hemispheres.
These hemispheres are divided by a very narrow slit called the cerebral longitudinal fissure.
Both sides of your cat’s brain are connected at the bottom by what is referred to as the corpus callosum, whose major job function is to deliver messages from one side of the brain to the other.
The cerebellum itself is located at the back of your cat’s brain and is attached to both the stem and the cerebrum. It major job function is to coordinate your cats movements as well as their posture.
Cerebellar hypoplasia in cats inhibits the proper functioning of this portion of your cat’s brain and as a result, you will see several symptoms start to develop.
The symptoms of Cerebellar hypoplasia in cats will surface as soon as the lack of development occurs, and as a result, usually start when kittens begin to walk.
However, it is not walking problems that surface first, but instead it is a bobbing of their head.
This is than immediately followed by the truck itself starting to sway or become unsteady.
Once you start to notice these unusual movements, you will than see the next symptom; exaggerated movements.
This will be very easy to identify as your developing kitten will lift their feet unusually high when taking steps as they lack the proper coordination because the signals are not being transmitted properly.
They will also start to take a very wide based stance, all of which leads to a total lack of coordination that looks almost spastic in nature.
Even though these symptoms are quite telling; the most classic symptom with Cerebellar hypoplasia is tremors.
These tremors will become almost rhythmic in nature in that your cat will begin to move back and forth throughout the day when they are awake. When sleeping, they will show no symptoms.
However, they will also show some other unusual patterns referred to as accentuated tremors.
Accentuated tremors can be described as intention oriented, in that they will occur when your cat intends to do something.
The best example of this is when your cat tries to walk, they tremble or bob, or when they try to nurse and reach from the nipple, they will jerk.
Cerebellar hypoplasia in cats can have several potential causes. It can be the result of an inherited disease, a nutritional deficiency, or by some type of toxicity.
However, in the vast majority of cases it is the result of what is called feline distemper, also known as Panleukopenia virus.
Panleukopenia virus is a highly contagious infection in cats that is very easily spread from the queen in the uterus before the kittens are even born.
However, it can also just as easily be spread to the litter shortly after their birth. This virus affects any type of a fast growing cell, and in the case of Cerebellar hypoplasia, it affects the cerebellum.
As a result of this infection, it will either retard development or is attacked to the point where it degenerates causing the condition to develop.
There is to this date no known treatment for this condition and the only chance your young cat has is your help and a lot of loving care.
Although cerebellar hypoplasia in cats cannot be prevented or treated, it can be managed.
With a lot of love and care, cats that are affected will need some help in avoiding stairs or any type of climbing as well as activities that may harm them because of their lack of coordination.
If they are an outside cat they will have very little chance of surviving, but if they are kept indoors, they can lead almost a normal life.
In rare cases where it is so severe that they cannot eat, walk, or groom themselves, they will need to be euthanized, but that is extremely rare.
In most cases they can be just as loving and acceptable as any other cat; they just need some help and protection.
Once the original deficits are discovered, they will stabilize and do not get worse and can very easily have a normal life span with the right owner.