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Organe tabby, special needs cat

Open your home to a special needs pet

Q: Honey, a 1-year-old shelter cat I’ve fallen in love with, has cerebellar hypoplasia, which makes it hard to her to walk and jump, though she can use the litter box without difficulty. Is it wise to adopt a cat with special needs?

A: This week is Adopt a Less Adoptable Pet Week. If you’ve already given your heart to Honey, then open your home to her, too. You’ll be glad you did.

Special-needs pets return the favor by giving you unconditional love throughout their lives.

Honey’s clumsiness is due to cerebellar hypoplasia (CH), abnormal development of the part of the brain that controls balance and movement. CH results from exposure to the panleukopenia virus before birth or within two weeks after birth.

Clinical signs may include poor coordination, exaggerated movements, head tremors and a broad-based stance. The condition remains stable, neither worsening nor improving through life.

Given their ungainly coordination, cats with CH must live indoors throughout their lives.

Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine in Pennsylvania. Contact her at

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