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The Truth About “CH Cats”

September 28, 2022

What is Cerebellar Hypoplasia?

Cerebellar Hypoplasia (cer·e·bel·lar hy·po·pla·sia), abbreviated to CH, is a disorder found in cats and dogs which causes jerky movements, tremors, and generally uncoordinated motion, just like ataxic cerebral palsy in humans. A cat with CH often falls down and has trouble walking or cannot seem to walk at all. CH in cats is non-progressive, meaning it does not get worse with age.

Cerebellar Hypoplasia is most commonly caused by the kitten’s mother contracting the Panleukopenia virus while pregnant. If the mother passes on the virus during the end of pregnancy, the kittens can be born with CH. Kittens with CH are not infected with or carriers of the Panleukopenia virus, it has only stunted their cerebellum’s growth while in the womb. Cerebellar Hypoplasia can also occur if a trauma, including malnutrition, occurs to the kittens while in the womb.

The Truth about Cerebellar Hypoplasia

At this time, many veterinary and rescue professionals are still unaware of CH. Sadly, many CH cats are needlessly euthanized before they receive a proper diagnosis, making it harder for awareness about the condition to grow.

It is important to know that cats with CH are not in any pain and can live very normal, happy, and healthy lives. They have a normal life expectancy and are not contagious to other animals or people. Cats with CH tend to learn to adapt to their condition over time and may require no extra care or a great deal of extra care depending on the severity of their condition. They can be prone to accident-related injuries, however.

Severity Levels of CH Cats:

MILD: Cats with mild CH are very capable and require little to no extra care.


  • Unusual gait (high step or waddle)
  • Occasional balance loss
  • May have subtle head tremors when excited or stressed


  • Walk
  • Run
  • Jump
  • Stairs

Special Care:

  • Cannot live outdoors
  • May prefer a modified litter box with high sides
  • Prefer carpet or rugs, but not a necessity

MODERATE: Cats with moderate CH can get generally around on their own, but may wobble and occasionally fall.


  • Walk with legs splayed in a wide stance
  • Frequent balance loss, falls
  • Noticeable head tremors, especially when excited or stressed


  • Walk short distances
  • Expert climbers

Special Care:

  • Cannot live outdoors
  • Prefer a modified litter box with high sides to support themselves against; can be messier than non-CH cats
  • Have an easier time balancing on carpet or rugs
  • Raised food & water dishes
  • Modified furniture to protect them from getting hurt when they fall (e.g. adding bumpers)

SEVERE: Cats with severe CH cannot always get around on their own and require a great deal of special care.


  • Cannot walk or stand
  • Flip and flop to get around
  • Constant head tremors


  • Expert Climbers

Special Care:

  • Cannot live outdoors
  • May need help using the litter box; prefer a modified litter box with high sides or pee-pee pads
  • Prefer carpet to help grip and propel themselves forward
  • May need help getting set up at their food dish
  • Modified furniture to protect them from getting hurt when they fall (e.g. adding bumpers)
  • Are ideal candidates for wheelchairs, which can help improve mobility and coordination.
By The NOAH Center

The NOAH Center is a nonprofit Animal Adoption Center and Spay & Neuter Clinic dedicated to ending the euthanasia of adoptable pets.



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