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Ask the Cat Doc: How one can Encourage a Cat with Cerebellar Hypoplasia to Play

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Welcome to our common “Ask the Cat Doc With Dr. Lynn Bahr” phase! As soon as a month, Dr. Bahr solutions as a lot of your questions as she will be able to, and you may depart new questions for her in a remark.

Dr. Bahr is a 1991 graduate of the College of Georgia’s Faculty of Veterinary Medication and founding father of Dezi & Roo, an organization that designs, manufactures, and sells solution-based merchandise that improve the lives of cats and their house owners. She volunteers at quite a few animal-related charities and causes and serves on the Concern Free Advisory Board, the Parliamentarian of the Society of Veterinary Medical Ethics, the Cat Committee of the Pet Skilled Guild, and the Alley Cat Allies’ Feline Ahead Process Pressure.

Dr. Bahr is co-author of Indoor Cat: How one can Enrich Their Lives and Increase Their Worldobtainable from Amazon.


For extra details about Dezi & Roo and their distinctive and revolutionary cat toys, please go to Dezi and Roo on Etsy.

We solely had one query final month, a few kitty with cerebellar hypoplasia, additionally know as wobbly cat syndrome. For those who’re not acquainted with this situation, it’s a neurological dysfunction that causes sudden jerky actions, uncoordinated movement and lack of steadiness. In a CH cat, the mind doesn’t develop correctly. This will occur when the pregnant mom has the feline panleukopenia virus (feline distemper) and passes it alongside to her unborn offspring. CH is neither contagious nor painful, and with some lodging, cats with this situation can have full and completely satisfied lives.

How one can encourage a kitty with CH to play

Hello Dr Bahr,

I’m a first-time cat mother to my all-black humane society buddy and I simply love him to items! I finished ingesting on February 12, 2021 and accomplished 3 months of inpatient rehab. I wished a companion pet, however I knew a canine was out of the query. I made a decision on a cat and had no thought of what was in retailer for me! I fell in love along with his pic and knew I needed to undertake him! The individuals on the adoption place didn’t know precisely how outdated he was as a result of he was discovered along with his mother and siblings in a barn. I picked him out after I received there after which went to attend within the room for us to be launched. The girl put him on the ground so he may discover, and I noticed straight away that his stroll was off. They girl defined that the little man picked up an an infection from his mother referred to as Cerebellar Hypoplasia, which makes him stroll humorous. So, I’m trying down at this fuzzy, feisty little fur ball take a couple of steps, his legs would give out somewhat, however that didn’t cease him in any respect! He was transferring as quick as these little legs would carry him, he’d stumble over a bit, then get proper again up! My coronary heart melted! I picked him up and thought he may get upset as a result of he wished to play, however it was virtually as if we knew one another already! He put his head on my chest and began purring and he hasn’t stopped! I informed the woman that as quickly as he began strolling, I used to be bought! It’s okay that he doesn’t transfer as properly different cats; I used to be going to verify he lives his greatest life! He jogs my memory of mindset I had after I first received dwelling from rehab; it doesn’t matter what knocks you down, it solely wins for those who don’t get again up. So, get again up! I’ll have had him for 1 yr on October 1 and he’s doing very well! What I’m questioning is, what sorts of issues can I let him do that can make up for that undeniable fact that he can’t go outdoors unattended? The climate is getting higher and that i need to let him go outdoors, however along with his strolling and coordination points, he received’t be capable to get himself out of a nasty scenario or defend himself. He doesn’t actually get pleasure from toys for very lengthy, if he pays consideration to them in any respect! I would like him to be to get pleasure from being a cat and likewise be energetic as attainable. Thanks a lot and I’m excited to search out out some methods to maintain my buddy completely satisfied and wholesome! His identify? Effectively, I had a reputation all picked out as a result of he'[s technically MY buddy. I got home and told my husband “This is my new buddy.” I was gonna tell my husband the name, but he watched him walk and he says “Wobbles. His name is Wobbles.” Perfect! – Angela Fulghum

Hi Angela,

Who rescued who? It sounds like you and your wobbly boy are a match made in heaven and I am so happy for you both. I appreciate you wanting to find more ways to play with him and have a few suggestions.

Since mobility is an issue, you may want to try games that involve scent. Using materials like silvervine, catnip, and even food or treats, hidden around the house or in food puzzles is an easy way to encourage him to use his nose to seek and find things that taste or feel good. There is even an online course teaching Nosework and you can learn more about it here.  Bringing scents from the outdoors, like branches, leaves, and safe plants inside for him to smell and play with is another way to appeal to his sense of smell and give him a fun activity to engage in.

Opening windows for enrichment will allow Wobbles to experience a bit of the outdoors and I encourage you to do so frequently. And, if possible, take him outside for supervised, short periods of exploration. You may even consider building an enclosure (catio). In my book, Indoor Cat: How to Enrich Their Lives and Expand Their World there is a simple tutorial on how to construct a quick and inexpensive window unit that anyone can assemble.

Have you tried wand toys to encourage your boy to play? If not, I recommend you try a few to see which ones catch his attention best. My favorites include the Wiggly Wand by Dezi & Roo, Da Bird by Go Cat, Bamboozler by Boinks, or Purrfect Leather Bouncer by Vee Enterprises. Make sure that you and Wobbler play with these safely on a carpeted surface to help him keep his balance and avoid injuries.

How to properly play with wand toys

A common mistake people make when trying to get their cat to play with a wand attachment is to dangle it in front of their cat’s face. In the wild a mouse, bird, or bug would never run up to a cat and say “hi” or tease them by jumping in front of their face. Prey run away and cats chase them. The best way to entice Wobbles to play is to move the wand around gently until it catches his attention. Then stop all movement until he locks eyes on it, assumes the crouched position, and begins to pounce. Then you can move it around to entice him to chase it. Once he catches the attachment, let him proudly carry it away.

Play rugs, like the Magic Carpet, are wonderful for entertaining cats like Wobbles. You can throw it over a chair or table to create a fun tent for him to hide in or use it to encourage foraging by placing treats or toys underneath for him to uncover. He might enjoy it rooting around in it when simply placed on the floor or sleeping in it squished up in a corner.

Building forts out of boxes is another way to encourage him to play. Or, letting him play with a box filled with leaves from outside could be a fun activity for him too. Most cats enjoy romping in brown paper packing and Wobbles might like that too.

Hopefully, I have given you some ideas as to how to keep Wobbles happy and healthy playing. If you are looking for more ways in which to play with him, I encourage you to check out my book. It is chock full of valuable ideas and information.

Thank you for writing in and I hope you and Wobbles have fun playing together more.

Do you have a question for Dr. Bahr? Leave it in a comment and she’ll answer it in next month’s column.

*The Conscious Cat is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. The Conscious Cat is a participant in Etsy’s affiliate program. This means that if you decide to purchase through any of our links, we get a small commission. We only spread the word about products and services we’ve either used or would use ourselves.  

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