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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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 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.
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).
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.
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
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. :-)