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Ask the Vet: Wobbly Kitten With CH Can Have Good Quality of Life

Dr. Lee Pickett on

Q: My friend adopted a kitten she named Clown because she's so funny to watch. Clown has a condition called CH, which makes her wobble like a drunk and sometimes fall over. What exactly is CH?

A: CH is cerebellar hypoplasia, a condition caused by incomplete (hypo-) development (-plasia) of the cerebellum, the part of the brain that coordinates balance and movement.

Clinical signs, which include swaying, poor balance and coordination, exaggerated movements, a wide stance and sometimes tremors, appear when the kitten starts to walk. As the kitten learns to compensate, these abnormalities may improve a bit, but the disability remains lifelong.

Fortunately, CH does not cause pain, and affected cats have a normal life span.

The cause is damage to the cerebellum during its development, which occurs during the last three weeks before birth and the first three weeks after birth. Damage most often results from exposure to the feline distemper virus, also called the panleukopenia virus, either from contact with an infected cat or vaccination. Severity may vary among kittens in the same litter, with some kittens appearing normal.

Because of their poor coordination, cats with CH must live indoors. Suggest your friend provide Clown with nonspill water and food bowls. A low-entry litter box is also helpful.


Clown is fortunate to have people in her life who enjoy her company and cherish the characteristics that make her special.

Q: The veterinarian told me that my new puppy, Walter, has an undescended testicle. She recommends neutering him, but I want to breed him. How can we make his testicle descend into his scrotum -- or can the other testicle produce enough sperm by itself to create puppies?

A: Walter is cryptorchid, a common condition in which one or both testicles don't descend into the dog's scrotum. The word comes from the Greek language, where "crypt" means hidden and "orchid" refers to the testicle.

Undescended testicles may hide in the abdomen, beneath the skin or, most commonly, in the inguinal canal. When only one testicle is retained, it's usually the right.


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