Friday, September 24, 2010

Thomas The Tank Engine

Thomas has grown into the silliest cat. He's very long, very lean. He is muscular. Still has balance issues, but that doesn't stop him! He climbs the ceiling hight cat tree in a flash! He loves to be at the top and chase his own tail around and around and around the pole. He loses his balance now and then, but those strong muscles of his allow him to pull himself back up and carry on. You can hardly tell he has CH, but of course we know his clumsiness is something he's overcome more than be burdened with. He's a loveable guy - sometimes TOO loving! He still has the strange habit of wanting to suck his "thumb" or the other cats or now even our fingers! Wacko! We think it is a comforting thing he still relies on, since he was taken from his Mamma at such a young age. Who knows, all we know is we love the nut and we can not believe he was almost put to sleep as a kitten because of the CH. While it may have been necessary for some of the litter, he is proof SOME of them CAN thrive!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

She was loved

Sadly, Enya's CH wasn't the only thing she battled. After countless visits to the vet, and complete devotion to her - Enya's condition only worsened to the point of complete paralysis. Something much more severe than just the CH, but the vet couldn't determine what was wrong with her.

After days of watching her brother Thomas improve and adjust to his mild CH, Enya was eventually only able to faintly meow while laying paralyzed from the neck down. I waited painfully each day to see improvement, but she just got worse each day. After a week or so, we couldn't bear to see her suffer any more. Only after every effort was made to help her did we decide to end her suffering. We kissed her head lovingly, we prayed for her and we cried as we let the vet take her away and we said our goodbyes.

We spread her ashes in the Spring, over the roses in the garden. It was moving to me - she was finally free from the trapping of her little body. I imagined her running and jumping all around the yard, free from the restraints of her CH, free from the pain of whatever else was raveging her body. I imagined her tumbling and playing with her brother Thomas, just as she should have.

I smile when I think of her. Though she suffered some, I still see those bright eyes of hers and remember how loved she was and how happy she was - the sound of her happy purr. Her life was short but significant. She touched the lives of my family, friends, the workers at the Vet's office and people online as well who are affected by CH. Maybe she helped inspire others to adopt pets with disabilities. Maybe her story will help those with CH kitties to appreciate each day dispite it's struggle over-coming a defect or adapting to life, because no matter how hard the life - it's still a life and that's worth something. I hope she is remembered. Look at those eyes, how can you forget a kitten so sweet?

It's months later now, and Thomas is a tank. He is a little clumsy, tripping and falling from things he shouldn't have climbed to begin with. A true brat, if ever a boy cat could be. Yet loveable and sweet, and enjoying the life of a cat well loved.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Emotional Roller Coaster with Enya

Well, I'm sad to report Enya's moment of "improvement" was
short-lived. She is progressively getting worse, leading me to believe
she does not have CH after all, but something more severe. She becomes
more paralyzed every day, and it's heartbreaking to watch.

She is going back to the vet today for "daycare" so she will still get
her frequent feedings. She still eats, but everything else is worse.
Her legs are stiff and straight. We bend them and massage them every
day, but they are not working for her. She can't move, only her head.
Wherever we lay her is where she lays. Even meowing is harder for her,
she does this kind of moan.

The worst part is, when I pick her up to
feed or potty, she sounds like she is in pain and throws her head back
in a stiff manor, to me suggesting pain. I can live with the extra
work, but if she is in pain, we might have to consider putting her
down, as hard as that would be. Michael and I have been struggling
with that thought. We've poured so much love and hope and money into
getting her well. Michael built the neatest "feeding station" for her.
Now she can't even use it. I have to hold her head so she can drink a
soup of AD rescue food and water. She wasn't able to support her legs
at all when I took her to the cat box lastnight.

Friday she and her brother Thomas have their 12 week vet appointment
to get the rest of their vaccinations and a checkup. I will discuss it
all with the vet and see what he thinks. But it's not looking good. We
were so excited to help her adapt to CH - but this is something very
different and not expected.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Enya seems to be improving!

I think her "daycare" each day at the vet's office this week to keep up with her feedings every 2 hours has been working! She had so much energy lastnight. She tried walking again, leaning up against the wall and moving herself along. I could see the LIFE in her eyes come back a little! Very encouraging. We will keep up with the frequent feedings of her special AD Rescue Food the vet gave us. (When I say gave, I mean at $1.50 a can! lol) But no matter the cost, it's worth it to see her coming back to life. I don't know if this was the cure for whatever was wrong with her, but for now it seems to be working and I am relieved. Tired, but relieved! Thank you to all her friends for their prayers and notes of support. This little angel has a lot of people rooting for her!

Thomas is a plump little giant about 3 times the size of his sister now! He bounds around the house up and down the curtains, chairs, over and under and round and round! He is a beige ball of energy!!! Hysterical to watch. Adorable when he finally wears out and cuddles up for a nap. More photos and video to come soon!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Enya is hanging in there...

Our little angel Enya is hanging in there. Saturday she went to the vet, because she had taken a turn for the worse. I thought Friday night I might lose her. She was weak, listless, no energy at all. Her eyes had that sunken glossy look. A look I've seen when I lost a runt once, and when we lost the little black kitten Michael found outside a jobsite months ago. I knew something hadn't been right with her, but chalked it up to bad days battling her CH. This is different.

The vet suggested we feed her every 1-2 hours now until she gains some strength, but I know its different from malnurishment. She does this new "turtle" move with her head - stretching her neck out and slamming her head to the ground over and over. Breaks my heart. I see her whole body stiffen - possibly a seizure. She does not want to play. She just lays there either doing that move or nothing at all. She does eat - and she still goes potty in the box with my assistance. No accidents, little angel.

I don't know if her vaccinations were too much for her, or if she was hurt when I wasn't home. Or if the CH is progressive. Her original foster mom brought the kitten she kept to the vet, and her vet thinks they don't have CH - they may have a different cerebral condition that CAN get worse in time.

Regardless, we are doing as the vet suggested. Today she is at the vet again for "daycare" while I work so they can feed her every 2 hours. I did see some improvement today - she seemed more herself. She was a little more energetic, attentive to what's going on in the room, and she looks fluffier and a little more plump. So it could be she just needed the extra nutrition. We will see!

We will just keep doing our best for her and say some prayers. She slept by my side all night so it was easier for me to get up for her feedings. Angel keeps purring.

Monday, November 24, 2008

2 weeks after adopting Enya and Thomas

What have I learned after week two with Enya and Thomas? That there are not only extreme differences between the severity of each kitten's CH, but there are also big differences in their performance day by day.

Thomas runs circles around Enya. You can see a little hint of CH in his clumsiness, but still - he is able to run, flip, jump and climb and basically perform like any other crazy kitten his age. The only difference between him and a "normal" kitten, is that he is a little clumsy and will sometimes fall off the couch a little, or maybe not have perfect aim when jumping. None the less, his ability to be independent and mobile is far more active than anything poor little Enya can do.

Enya does flip flop around the house when she is feeling active, and she loves to play with her active brother and with us. Her favorite thing to do is slide her way over to the fluffy rug I have under a chair, where a blanket hangs over the side. She loves to play with the blanket fringe and wait for her brother to come romping through so she can swat him into a good wrestle.

I keep toys next to her bed, for the times when she WANTS to play but can't. You have to think of them as infants sometimes. Just as you would put a mobile over a baby's crib, CH kittens NEED visual stimulation because they are still developing. Some days are better than others. Yesterday for example, she just wanted to be held. And her head shook - a lot. I was worried it would be a permenant thing, but there wasn't as much head shaking as yesterday. I bought her more kitten milk, thinking perhaps her sugar was low. Maybe she still needs the extra nutirents in the milk vs. the adult cat wet cat food she's been eating.

Eating was getting easier with my "boot" method of support. There were a few days when I didn't even need the boot, she managed to learn how to spread her back legs enough to support her body, and she ate well on her own. Messy, but well. But again, yesterday was a bad day for her - and as you can see in the video, without support she just fell over and couldn't manage to get herself back and stable enough to eat on her own. After the video, I just picked her up and basically had to hold her and hand feed her like I did when she was smaller. I've just come to expect now that there will be those days when she requires more help than others.

The same was true for the cat box - some days, she is fine getting into the paint tray I set up and is able to lean on the sides on her own. Other days, she needs me to hold her over the cat box while she goes in order to avoid falling into her mess. She is very well trained, and will go almost every time I bring her to the box. I bring her to the cat box every morning first thing, 15 minutes after each meal, and a few times at night before bed. During the night, if she has to go, it's easy for her to slide or flop over to the paint tray kitty pan I set up next to her bed. A little more mess? Yes, but I have not had to clean up one "accident' yet! So that, is a blessing in and of itself which makes me not mind the dustbusting I have to do around the kitty pan.

All and all we are all learning to adapt to the CH, and despite the little bit of extra work with feeding and potty time - her cuddliness and purring while we watch tv together at night - or the moments I see her playing with the other cats and snuggling in a big cuddle puddle on the floor make it all worth it.

She is happy, she's healthy and I look forward to seeing her and Thomas grow each day. I hope documenting their progress, despite the occasional "one step forward - two steps back days" - will help other CH kitty parents.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Introducing your CH kittens to your other Cats

We have two older cats, Sprinter - a year and a half old male orange and white long hair who was born in our house to a rescue we had, and Bob - a girl kitty we named Bob by mistake thinking she was male. Bob keeps to herself and is not happy about the new babies, but Sprinter is the most loveable little guy, and he has been the welcoming committee at home.

I think Sprinter has forgotten he is male, and has taken on the roll of Mamma Cat! He bathes the kittens after they eat. Maybe to care for them, or maybe they just taste good! haha. He loves to play with the rambunctious Thomas, and cries for them at night when I put them in their "room" to be safe. Although Sprinter means well, sometimes he can be a little too rough so I like to supervise their play times and don't trust them 100% through the night. But overall, Sprinter is a gentle, beautiful soul who is helping the kittens.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Week ONE of being CH kitty parents!

Week one of being CH kitty parents! What a week! A little more work than life 2 weeks ago, but SO MUCH MORE REWARDING. What a blessing our little CH kitties have become.
Enya and Thomas had their first vet appointment Friday night. They are beautiful healthy babies. Enya has severe CH, and Thomas so mild it's almost non-existent. The vet was SO excited to see them, because he wanted to show the whole office staff what a CH kitty is / does. He said back in his clinic days, there was a little drunken sailor who they all loved named Bumper. He was the first person I called when I learned the kitten I was getting had siblings who were "wobbly with CH" and he said - "if you can, adopt the CH ones! They make great pets." I was shocked, but now I understand. I wish there were more vets like him. So many are quick to put these beautiful babies to sleep. Anyways, the vet appt was perfect. Shots, checkups, etc. We got a nice big free bucket of kitten food AND free doses of kitten Frontline. Yay!

So what have we learned so far?

#1 - showing them the cat box with cat poo in it as soon as they came into our house was KEY to successful potty training. No accidents yet (knock on wood)! Enya still needs to be put in the box, held while pooing and then taken out, but she improves every day and the rounded sides of the new cat box help her balance a lot! We also used a paint roller tray liner as a night time cat box next to her bed so she can have quick access to it. The low entrance of a paint roller pan makes it easy for them to scootch their way up and in, and out. Putting her in the cat box 15 minutes or so after she eats breakfast and dinner is critical. We also put her in at other times just in case. If she doesn't have to go, she lets us know by trying to get out. It's become very routine. She knows she will go every morning and after every meal, so it's worked out well.


Enya eats ferociously and aggressively and sloppy! At first we used a rubber spatula so she wouldn't hurt her teeth, and we held her. Then I worked into holding her in front of the bowl to balance her. Now, I can prop her up with a towel on each side and she eats fine on her own. Wet food, because she does NOT like to drink water. We tried a rabbit bottle too, and no luck. I would use a dropper and force her water, but the vet said the wet food has enough water for her to live fine. I do soak some dry food in water or kitten milk mix sometimes too. She needs to be cleaned up after eating, OR if you are lucky like me your adult cat will come along and clean her for free! Sprinter is 1 1/2 year old male who adores the kittens and cleans them all the time - he's like my little babysitter, it's great!

We make time to play with Enya more than Thomas, because Thomas runs around like a maniac on his own. Enya is limited to her immediate area, so we bring toys to her - but not all the time, because we want her to learn how to get around her own way and build muscle. But we noticed if we didn't get her to play, she would lay in her bed. BORING! We bought different toys and hold her too, allowing her to swat at feathered thingies and fun jingly bell toys. We try to keep her as active as possible when we are home.

Overall, it's only been a week and we can already see major improvements in Enya. She is learning how to lean up against things to sit herself up. She is able to get herself up and take 3-4 steps now before falling. She doesn't bang her head forward into the floor as much now either because she is learning to spread her back legs a little before she tries to move forward.
She purrs, she plays, she eats and sleeps with her brother Thomas and our other kitty Sprinter, and she is just a JOY to have!

We are so glad we weren't afraid of her handicap and chose to bring her home with us. I can not wait to watch her grow and progress and inspire other CH kitty parents to have hope and keep these babies from being put to sleep.

Most importantly - let's all spread the word about VACCINATING cats and kittens to prevent this from happening.

In this video, you can see how Thomas has mild CH and can run around like a maniac, while Enya has trouble balancing and falls over. She LOVES to play though and is learning to adjust to her handicap.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Day 4 with Enya and Thomas

I've noticed Enya, like many PEOPLE with a handicap, have good days and bad days. Tuesday night I was a little concerned about our little CH wobbly kitten. She seemed less active, although even on a good day her "active" is NOTHING compared to Thomas, her brother - who has no signs of CH. Thomas bounces around the house like a tazmanian devil! But Enya is more relaxed, layed back, mostly because she has to be since she can't walk - but I think it's her personality too. She loves to be held, she loves to just be loved.

But she does like to play too. Tuesday night, she seemed to just want to crawl into her "hut" which is a small cat crate with my husband's flannel. She is happiest there, she purrs just entering it. She seemed weaker Tuesday night and I was worried about her fluids. She does NOT like to drink. Eat - YES, agressively and fast! She loves to shove it all in like she is at closing time at an all you can eat buffet. I have to slow her down when she eats in fear she will choke because I honestly think she inhales and doesn't chew. But drinking - no.

Night one I bought a guinea pig / rabbit water bottle thinking it would be easier since her head bobs, and it causes her head to dunk into a normal bowl of water. Shallow dishes weren't much better. She wouldn't have anything to do with the new bottle either. Thomas, loves the rabbit water bottle but he also drinks out of the normal cat bowl and even the dog bowl - he drinks all the time. So I thought maybe her listlessness was that.

I learned how to "trick" her into drinking. Since she loves food so much - I used that as a ploy to get water into her. I filled a shallow dish with water, then dropped some dry cat food in it. It resembled bobbing for apples. Every bite she went in for, she got a gulp of water. It worked!!! And then the dry cat food soaked up even more water, and she ate it - not realizing she was getting a LOT of water in those bites. Hopefully that is enough to sustain her, but I will check with the vet. I could use a dropper, but I really want a comfortable way for her to get her own fluids when she feels she needs it, and for now this seems to be the best way.

Her "pee pee" breaks are more frequent. ANGEL of mine goes potty every time I put her in the cat box, and NEVER has an accident. It's a miracle really, she is so very smart to know to hold it until I get her in the morning and when I come home after work. I have yet to see an "accident", and I am SO grateful for that. I know a lot of other CH moms have to clean poop and sometimes have them wear diapers, and I am happy my only chore is to hold her while she goes the bathroom. The fact that she goes basically "on demand" is amazing to me. My other cats would never do that.

One morning I put her in the cat box, held her there a bit and let her sniff around - and NOTHING. I was discouraged thinking "oh boy the honeymoon is over" and that she would stop going to the bathroom this way. I went to get ready for work, came back down and found her across the room - she made it across the room - and was struggling on the ramp to the cat box trying SO hard to get up the ramp. She had to go, and she made her way all that ways so she wouldn't have an accident. All that work, and all the tumbling and getting back up she had to do just to get that far, just to make sure she went potty in her box - just made my eyes tear! What an angel. My smart, wonderful little angel.

Thomas is a brute of a boy. His face is even dirty like a boy! lol. He thinks he is a lion you know. He hides in the plant and pounces out on all fours! He is hysterical. My husband and I just laugh when he is playing. He is the funniest little man. He loves playing with our older cat Sprinter! And he does love playing with Enya, but for her - he is a little too rough.

More on the challenges and rewards of raising a CH kitten and her "normal" brother tomorrow.....

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Two For One Kitten Deal

A co-worker of mine announced at work she was fostering a mother cat and her five kittens for the Meriden, CT Humane Society. Michael and I had been thinking about adding a new family member for a while. So when she mentioned the kittens, I immediately called "first dibs" to pick one of the babies out to be ours when they were ready for homes. The "fat head" one was our pick, a beige chubby baby bigger than the others - a real brute. Blue eyes and little white mittens, I couldn't wait for him to be ready to come to our house.

4 weeks into fostering, my co-worker asked me to come to the shelter with her with the kittens she had brought to work. 3 of the 5 had "something" wrong with them. They wobbled, excessively. She didn't know what could be wrong, but knew it had to be serious. I went with her, and was shocked to see the 3 of them falling over eachother, unsteady a
nd unable to stand still without falling. The shelter advised her to bring them to the vet.

A vet said they most likely had CH, and that the mom most likely had distemper. My co-worker was advised to put the cats to sleep, because they would have a very hard life. She decided to wait since they were so little, and I insisted they were still so young to even be walking anyways and to give them more time.

A week after that, she came to work one day and said she had one of the kittens in the car and was taking it to be put to sleep. It's bobbling was severe, and she felt it had to be put down. I went out to the car to see just how bad this was.

One look in those sweet little blue eyes looking up at me was all it took. I said "No! Don't take her to the vet to be put down - I will take her." I knew my husband who loves cats as much as me would say the same thing, which he later did. She is so small, so sweet, and I just knew she needed a CHANCE to live, a chance to adapt to her handicap. She swept her paw trying to catch my hair, playing, and I knew I was doing the right thing.

That's how one cat turned into two! Thomas and Enya have been with us just two days, but already I can tell Enya is a MIRACLE baby and I need to share her story to help save other kittens like her.

Adopting ENYA, our CH Kitten

This past Sunday we adopted 2 kittens, Thomas - a beige kitty with little white mittens, and ENYA - our little angel with CH.

What is CH? Well that is something I have been researching for the past week. And the reason I started this blog. Cerebellar Hypoplasia. In layman terms - it's like cerebral palsy. They are perfect mentally, but physically their motor skills are poor and most can't walk; they tumble. Some mildly - some severe. In our case, Enya has it severely. She can not stand or walk on her own. She flops about.

"CH cats, or cats with Cerebellar Hypoplasia, have a condition affecting the cerebellum of the kitten’s brain. The cerebellum is the portion of the brain that influences fine motor control. Kittens affected with CH will have poor coordination (jerky or wobbly movements when they walk or run). Some will have head tremors. This can happen to a greater or lesser extent in each animal. Many will fall over during movement. Life expectancy is not affected. The cause of CH may be a viral infection during gestation or in kittenhood. Distemper is the most common cause of intra-uterine infection. However, CH can occur in-utero or at a later date due to injury, poisoning or a virus. The symptoms of CH generally DO NOT worsen as the animal ages and most will learn to compensate to some degree. However, this will be a lifelong condition. There is no treatment for the condition. The animal can have a good quality of life if given protection from accidents. These cats will be clumsy and must be protected from stairs, for example. They absolutely MUST NOT be declawed as they need their nails to help them hang on when they slip or fall. Cushions should be placed under places from which the cat may fall (window sills, etc.). It is a good idea to use untippable food and water bowls and a litter box with high sides but a low entrance area. These cats MUST be kept indoors for their own safety. CH cats seem to be unaware that they are different in any way and therefore may attempt feats that could be dangerous for them, but they seem to lead very happy lives." - The Cat Connection

I am learning there are many, many cats and kittens with this condition, and thousands of them are put to sleep needlessly.

This blog is a tribute to my new little kitten ENYA in hopes her story will save other kitties with CH from being put to sleep. They CAN adapt and live happy lives - they just need a little extra patience, love and care.

ENYA'S story to follow.