It was love at first sight for Lucy and her forever mom Padra McIntosh—but before they met, this kitten had conquered numerous obstacles, all while looking adorably cute. Lucy and her brother Linus were best friends when they were rescued by ACR in 2012. Foster mom Catherine Wood took the pair in after they both tested positive for the feline leukemia virus (FeLV). “They both seemed to be in good health,” says Wood. “The only issue I noticed was that they both sneezed a lot.” Linus became extremely ill a few months later because of his FeLV, and sadly did not survive.
Lucy, however, thrived. Wood calls her one of the most memorable foster cats she’s ever had. Lucy has cerebellar hypoplasia, or CH. This causes her to wobble when she walks. Wood remembers how this didn’t slow Lucy down at all. “She was very active and would run across the room to play with toys. Even though she wasn’t at all graceful like other cats, she had a particular sort of charm. I have a few friends who aren’t cat people, but when they met Lucy they were immediately enthralled.”
CH is a non-progressive, non-contagious neurological condition that results in balance problems. While some cats may only have a slightly impacted gait, others may have varying degrees of the condition. It’s important to remember that the cat isn’t sick or hurt; they’re simply uncoordinated. Unless a CH cat has other health issues, their life expectancy is the same as a cat without CH—in some cases, owners have said that their cat became more capable over time.
“One of the great things about CH cats is that they don’t seem to know that they’re any different from other cats,” says McIntosh. Even though they may think they’re normal, depending on the severity of their condition, they may be somewhat limited in their abilies and learn how to do things differently.
One such feat by Lucy was when she taught herself to conquer the couch in Wood’s home. After a lot of practice, she eventually mastered it and would then perch on the end and psyche herself up to jump off. “She’s always got this ‘go for it’ attitude,” laughs Wood.
In November 2012, Padra McIntosh was browsing through Petfinder.com to pass the time, with no intention of adopting an animal. She stumbled across a picture of Lucy and her heart melted. McIntosh read in Lucy’s profile about her wobbliness and viewed the video—she instantly fell in love. “I researched cerebellar hypoplasia and then made arrangements to go and meet her,” says McIntosh. “Once I met Lucy, there was no doubt in my mind that she was supposed to be MY wobbly girl.” Lucy went home with her forever mom on January 2, 2013.
McIntosh is still as smitten with Lucy as she was on day one. “She is the sweetest cat I have ever met or owned,” she says. “She is resilient, affectionate, happy and spoiled. She requires no extra special help for her CH, she eats and uses the litter box by herself and loves to play with toys or a game on my tablet. She has learned to jump up onto the bed and sofa and climbs anywhere else she wants to get onto, like our 4 foot-high cat tree. She is just a regular kitty that happens to wobble.”
It is not uncommon for FeLV tests to result in false positives, so McIntosh decided to re-test Lucy for the disease and it came back negative! Now that it was confirmed Lucy was FeLV free, McIntosh was able to bring three other CH cats into her home with symptoms ranging from mild to severe (including an adorable little guy who can’t walk).
“Because of Lucy and her siblings I was inspired to start a Facebook page to help bring awareness to CH,” she says. “I am also in the process of making a logo and products to help raise funds to help bring awareness to the condition. I believe this is why Lucy came into my life. I would recommend a CH kitty to anyone that is looking to adopt. You won’t regret it.”
For more information on CH, please visit Life with CH Cats.
— by Leah Morrison