The local animal rescue in Indianapolis is seeing an increase in kittens with a unique disability known as “wobbly cats.”
Cats Haven is Indiana’s oldest no-kill cat sanctuary, having operated continuously for almost 30 years.
Barbara Wills, founder, and manager of Cat Haven cares for roughly 300 disabled or elderly cats who were abandoned.
Her staff’s reputation for handling wobbly cats has spread throughout the community with their professionalism and great service.
Of the 97 cats residing at Cats Haven, 12 are “wobblers,” according to Wills.
What are wobbly cats?
According to the animal shelter, this rare condition is caused by cerebellar hypoplasia and can affect both dogs and cats.
It’s an unusual problem that starts with the cat’s brain stem that causes a significant lack of balance and coordination.
Symptoms include a lack of coordination, trouble balancing on their feet, abnormal eye movements, and wobbling when they walk or run.
How Cats Haven became a place for wobbly cats
Back in 2018, Brenna Donnelly from News 8 visited Cats Haven to meet wobbly cats for the first time.
The shelter was previously known in little circles for caring for cats with cerebellar hypoplasia, but the workers were not receiving many requests to do so.
Wills mentioned that the number of wobbly cats has increased in the shelter and people have one of three reactions: horror, pity, or adoration.
“We’re the wobbler place,” Wills said, smiling at cats Precious and Troy trying to walk across the room and tipping over occasionally.
“I know somebody’s going to look at her and say, ‘Poor kitty.’ And we look at her and say, ‘Way to go.”‘
Wills disagrees with the horrified people towards wobbly cats, pointing to happy behavior and even balance improvement over time.
Cats Haven only adopts wobblers to individuals who have prior experience with the breed with disability.
Wobbly cats are unable to use the litter box or eat, so they require constant attention, according to Wills.
What causes cerebellar hypoplasia?
Cerebellar hypoplasia usually happens in kittens as a result of their mother being infected with feline parvovirus during pregnancy.
It’s also possible that the kitten is infected in the first few weeks after birth.
Some or all of the kittens in the litter can be affected. The condition causes a lack of coordination in the kitten’s brain during development.
If you believe your kitten has cerebellar hypoplasia, it’s critical to see your veterinarian as soon as possible to get a diagnosis.
A veterinarian usually examines a cat and aims to rule out any conditions with similar neurological symptoms.
Some infectious diseases and epilepsy can mimic the symptoms of cerebellar hypoplasia, so it’s important to have your kitten examined by a veterinarian.