Introduction

Being a special needs kitty means that I have...well... special needs. Although I can do and enjoy many of the things that other kitties do, it requires some extra thought on the part of my family and friends to have a good life.

If you or someone you know is thinking about adopting a special needs kitty, make sure you understand the extra cost, time, patience, thought, and ingenuity that can be required. Raising and living with a special needs kitty can be very rewarding, but it is not for people who are lazy or do not like inconvenience. It is hard work, for both the kitty and the owner. My tips below should give you some idea of the special considerations involved. These tips apply to a kitty with Cerebellar Hypoplasia (CH), but may apply to other conditions as well.

As a Kitten

When I was a baby, I needed LOTS of extra time and attention. I couldn't eat or drink on my own or clean myself. I drank from a small baby bottle, and was fed by spoon. When I was real little, Bob took Grace and me to work with him so he could clean us, feed us, and give us fresh water a few times during work hours. That also got us used to traveling and meeting new people, which is good for any pet.

Feeding

My food requirements are about the same as any other kitty, but it is especially important for me to keep my weight down so I can maneuver well. Pet owners should always speak with their veterinarians about quality food. Good food keeps all kitties healthier, and decreases the incidence of diet-related illnesses. My food dish is wide on the bottom, to make it harder for me to spill food (I still flip the dish on occasion, though).

Water

Fresh water is one of the most important requirements for good health. I have two water dishes in the house that I can get to. Both have wide bottoms so that I can't spill them and are located where I can easily access them.

Litter Box

The litter box creates some big challenges for a kitty like me. Here are some tips that have made it possible for me to live a life with no litter box problems:

  1. An enclosed litter box gives me walls to lean against while I do my business. Without the walls, I might fall down and make a mess of myself and the room.

  2. The location of the box is important, too. Mine is located alongside a wall, so I can lean on the wall to help me get in and out of the box.

  3. Regular clay little is not good for me. It is too fine and could get in my nose, mouth, or eyes. A technician at my veterinarian's office suggested Yesterday's News when I was little. It is made from recycled newspaper formed into little pellets. It is very absorbent, handles odors well, doesn't get stuck in my feet, can't be easily ingested, and is easy to clean up. I also use Feline Pine now. It is made of pellets, like Yesterday's News, and is made form recycled sawdust. It works really well. Feline Pine and Yesterday's News work so well that all of the kitties in our house now use it (with nine kitties and three litter boxes in the house, we're experts in litter box issues). We have to spend a little more money than we used to with clay litter, but the pellets are easier, cleaner, and healthier for the kitties and our human friends.

  4. Keeping the litter box clean is important for every kitty and human, but it is especially important for me. Bob cleans my litter box several times a day.

Exercise

Exercise is important for everyone -- kitties, people, and all living things. It is especially important for a kitty like me. It is harder for me to exercise but, at the same time, even more important for me. For me to be able to overcome the mobility challenges associated with CH, I have to be strong and flexible.

When I was little, Bob and Diane would balance me so I could spend time on my feet and develop my muscles. I think it helped me to learn to walk better, and to grow up big and strong. When I got a little bigger, they set up rooms so I could lean against the walls to help me get better at walking. I still use the walls sometimes, but usually prefer to show how strong and tough I am by walking out in the middle of the floor.

They also took me outside on nice days and let me walk around in the grass. There, I could practice walking -- and even running -- without worrying about hitting anything. I even tried to chase some birds! The exercise and fresh air were wonderful (and I slept well at night because of it). Of course, they always stayed nearby to keep me safe.

With a kitty that can't walk well, there might be a temptation to keep the kitty locked up in a small area, but that doesn't allow for enough exercise and can make matters much worse.

Bedding

I probably have more beds than just about any kitty. I like to sleep under Bob and Diane's bed, and I have several beds under theirs. The cushy beds I have (most of which have come from BJ's Wholesale Club) allow me to rest well and have the energy and strength I need to live a good life. I even have a bed in the living room (so I can be near Bob when he sits in his recliner or plays guitar), and I sometimes will rest on one of my friend Shiloh's beds (she has one in the living room and one in the kitchen).

Safety

Since I cannot control my movements as well as most kitties, there are special safety considerations for me. Sharp objects must be kept away from me, of course. Heavy objects that can be easily knocked over have to be kept in places I don't go. Sharp edges on furniture need to be removed or padded. Areas where I shouldn't go are blocked.

Coaching and Encouragement

Not only do I have special physical needs, I also benefit psychologically from the special way I am treated. Bob and Diane have learned to use their voices and body language to encourage me, like a good coach does for an athlete. I get positive reinforcement from them, and they help me to focus when I get a little confused or frustrated. This makes it easier for me to live a more normal life and be happy.

I also get lots of attention. Bob, Diane and Judy often pet me and talk to me. I like that.

Summary

I may not have been born with some of the advantages that other kitties have, but because of the care and thought that my human family, friends and veterinarian give to me, I live a very happy, fun life. Living with a special needs kitty is a challenge, but it can be great. Bob and Diane say the house wouldn't be the same without me. :-)
 

You can also visit Wobbles at:   and 

All the text, code and photographs on this site, unless otherwise noted, are Copyright 2004-2009, Wobbles The Lighthouse Kitty.
All rights reserved. Please do not copy or print any text, code or photographs from this site without written permission.