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Home2Cats.org - Winter, 2010

THE  SCRATCHING  POST

Issue #42, by Barbara Stanley, home2cats@aol.com
Home 2 Cats, P. O. Box 752671, Memphis, TN  38175-2671

~ Winter, 2010 ~ Happy New Year of the Cat! ~

 

Mews You Can Use / Cat Tails

The Story of June Bug & Jitter Bug

June Bug and Jitter Bug do not have an elaborate, drastic tale of rescue. It began with the simple returning of a phone call to Jessica. Jessica was trying to place two handicapped kittens with an organization that would assure them a chance at life. The kittens’ front legs and paws were folded inward and their heads and bodies bobbled and shook. Jessica had taken them to a vet and because of their physical condition the vet recommended euthanasia as the most viable option. Luckily, Jessica had a heart of gold and left with the kittens to look for options that did not involve ending their lives.

When Larry and I met with Jessica that Saturday, we were surprised as these kittens were much tinier than we expected for eight weeks old. They were very alert and their little heads bobbled with excitement when they saw us. They were absolutely adorable and of course our hearts immediately melted. We packed these two babies up and headed for Home 2 Cats.

On Monday Dr. McCutcheon would be testing, examining and evaluating the kittens, which would determine their fate. We tried hard not to get too terribly attached although they really had us at hello – or, in their case, the first bobble. Jessica, who also was attached to the pair, kept in contact throughout the weekend. The three of us were anxious and experiencing dread that we managed to keep below the surface waiting for Monday to come around. We were so afraid that Dr. McCutcheon would agree with the first vet’s assessment but, at the same time, we were hopeful that she would just give us facts and options that would give the kittens a chance at a quality life.

 

 

June Bug & Jitter Bug at seven months.

It was a bleak Monday morning when the kittens left Home 2 Cats for the clinic. Later, Dr. McCutcheon called; the diagnosis was cerebellar hypoplasia (CH) and upon hearing those words for the first time, I thought the worst news was yet to come. Although CH wasn’t exactly good news, the kittens had a chance to lead relatively normal lives. Dr. McCutcheon explained that the mother cat had been infected with panleukopenia virus (feline distemper) while pregnant. Before birth, the nerve pathways in the kittens’ cerebellums, which were still maturing, were destroyed due to the mother’s condition.

The cerebellum is the part of the brain responsible for coordinating muscle movement. The outcome was a tiny cerebellum and a congenital disability in the kittens. Kittens born with CH are happy, able to feed themselves and in most cases learn to use a litter box (yippee for the litter box part of that!). She said the kittens would learn to compensate for their physical condition, which would not worsen and actually might improve as they matured. I could hear the softness in Doc’s voice and I could easily tell the duo had melted her heart also.

With their front legs and paws bent inward, June Bug and Jitter Bug had learned at their young age to use different methods to move around. They learned to make inch-worm like movements to get from place to place. Sometimes, they flip-flopped like fish out of water and at other times they simply pushed off with both backs legs and hopped like bunnies. At this stage in their development, it was sometimes hard to watch them struggle and not interfere and help. But these kittens needed to figure out how to achieve their goal. Also, like adult cats, kittens have their dignity! They tend to look exasperated if you do help as if to say ‘Hey, I was doing fine on my own!’

I searched the Internet for additional information on cats with CH and was surprised at the large network of people out there with CH pets. Our little twosome seemed more severely afflicted than most of the cats and kittens that I read about and viewed on the Internet, however.

 

 

Jitter Bug, 'Jitter-Bugging'.

Jitter Bug and June Bug, are small for their age and are developing at a slower pace. Like other CH cats, they appear normal at complete rest but when they hear a noise, focus on a particular object or concentrate on moving any part of their body, their tremors become apparent. As their concentration intensifies the tremors increase in intensity and any normal movement becomes impossible.

When they are at the peak of excitement they appear to be doing some crazy little dance (I think many dance crazes might have been born as the result of observation of CH cats – jitterbugging to break dancing – it’s all in there!). I am sure this is how Elvis got the idea for some of his special pelvic moves, not to mention some lyrics such as I’m all shook up Mm mm oh, oh, yeah, yeah!

As Doc had predicted, over time, one by one their front paws began to unfold followed by their legs uncurling. June Bug is more the mover and the shaker of the two. She has had such determination to explore that we knew she would be the first to learn to walk, and we were right. It sometimes takes her awhile to get where she wants to go, but when she does she is so pleased with herself.

Jitter Bug stands with his legs widely placed and it takes him much longer than June Bug to achieve the forward movement. He has a difficult time getting his back legs to cooperate and much to his dismay, he is a master of doing the splits. He loves to maneuver backwards and place his little fanny in the handiest lap. This is where he is happiest! June Bug can always find something to entertain herself with; Jitter Bug wants you to do the entertaining.

They both get extremely excited with noise and even display preferences to one sound over another. This particularly is true of favored toys. As their concentration on the sound and the toy intensifies, so do their tremors. Currently, one of June Bug’s favorite toys is a track ball. She is beside herself when she hears the ball whirling around the track. As the ball passes in front of her, her head will move as if the ball went straight instead of following it in a circle.

Even though her body did not cooperate, her brain knows exactly what course the ball took. This is typical of CH cats and because of this they often look like they are heading the opposite direction of what was intended. June Bug’s head will eventually turn back to catch the ball during its second pass. When she swats the ball she usually misses the hit on that particular go around but somehow manages to make contact the next time around. When her paw connects with that ball you can see the immense pleasure on her face and see the increase of tremors over her body.

 

 

June Bug entertaining herself.

Mastering the art of eating has taken time. With heads bobbing it was hard for them to make contact with the food, somewhat like bobbing for apples would be for us. But with determination they began to achieve their goal. There was a lot of trial and error figuring out what type of bowl, at what height and what type of mat was needed for them to obtain the best balance and grip.

It has taken a little longer than normal for the other cats to warm up to these two. Checking out these newcomers was no simple task. The head bobbing and smacking their noses into others as they tried to get a sniff was perceived initially as "aggressive" by the other cats.

Eventually, the rest of the crowd accepted that they were not bullies after all; they were simply "special needs" kitties. Some even decided the kittens needed nurturing and a bath became both pleasurable and frustrating for all parties involved. The bath would start, stop, start, and stop as a tongue tried to make contact with the bobbing head. Persistence prevailed and they eventually figured out how to fine-tune the old tried and true method of community bathing.

I learned that a ‘dog litter box’ was ideal for CH cats. I mean, who knew that dogs had litter boxes? The canine litter box has one side a little lower, which makes it easier for a CH cat to try and master. (I still can’t figure out why a dog needs one side lower. They know how to hurdle the couch and the bed just fine.) We are still trying to work out the kinks in that litter box theory that Doc dangled in front of us. But, our Bugs have made progress and hopefully will learn how to ‘hurdle’ the low edge of the box. I feel (and pray) with time they will accomplish this on their own.

Jitter Bug and June Bug have got to be the happiest youngsters we have ever had, as they do not fret over their limitations. They don’t realize they are different and they want to play, be loved and accepted. There is a big lesson we can all learn from these two.

 

- -  H o m e 2 C a t s . o r g  - -

 

Animal and People Recognition

While losing a companion is one of life's greatest sorrows, never having one is to miss out on years of loving companionship.

 

In Memory Of Animals
 

 

Blackie
Beloved cat of Paul & Carolyn Black.
--George & Linda Bond

 

Bernie
A dog that I had a true mystical relationship with that set him apart from all the other ones that I loved so ... a Great Pyrenees like none other!
--Sydney Nisbet

 

In loving memory of Remington aka 'Remmy'
Thank you Michelle and Walter for letting Remington adopt you for his loving forever home.  Thank you for sharing through the years your life with him via emails, pictures and visits.
--Larry & Barbara Stanley

Phoebe
In memory of my sweet, shy, special Phoebe.
--Ruth Blann Cartledge

Phoebe
In loving memory of Phoebe, from your four legged sister.
--Holle Noel

Kelsey
Beloved dog of Terri & Ed Soo Hoo.
--
Steve Meyer

Daisy
Beloved dog of Carole & Norman Thompson.
--George & Linda Bond

Chili
Beloved dog of Nancy Knous.
--Nathene Stark

Jenny Girl
Beloved dog of Pepaw.
--Robin Mayhall

***

In Memory of Loving Cats - All rescued:
Precious, Prissy, Pumpkin, Dice, Gizzmo, Taz, Scarlett, Sebastian, Coty and Tiffany - that Home 2 Cats so graciously took in and named after my daughter.

In Memory of Loving Dogs - Four of these were rescued:
Angie, Misty, Chui, Princess, Emily, Whitney, Ching, Ming, Chelsea, Rutherford, Raven and Sheriff.

In Honor of Loving Cats - Rescued:
Chance and Denver.

In Honor of Loving Dogs - Rescued:
Montana, April and Sam.

In Memory of Loving Horses:
Top Star, Rhapsody, Midnight, Lelani - Rescued and Little Bit.

Mostly in honor of my husband Jim Crouch who allowed my daughter and me to bring home all of the rescues.
--Barbara, Tiffany and Jim Crouch.

***

In Memory Of People

Ted Cartledge
In remembrance of my beloved Ted's birthday, October 19th.
--
Ruth Blann Cartledge

Joseph Walkner
In remembrance of my beloved brother on the anniversary of his death, January 8th.
--
Ruth Blann Cartledge

Mrs. Eda Fain
Beloved Mother of Vince Lemorrocco & Ms. Eda Fain.
--Daniel & Laura Greer

In Honor Of People

Park Avenue Animal Hospital Doctors & Staff
They are so good to Holle Noel.  They play with her while she is there so not only do they care for her health they nourish her soul.
--Ruth Blann Cartledge

In Honor of our wonderful neighbors:
Bob & Dody Cordes and Guinness, Ozzie, Harriet and Mr. Murphy.  Mike Mauk and Scraps & Milo.  Sandy, Garry, Nicole & Michael Albrecht and Tiger & Snickers.
--Hal, Suzanne, Elyse & Andrew Pate and Ki-Kitty.

Our friends are our family!
The Pate Family & Ki-Kitty.  The Albrecht Family & Snickers and Tiger.  The Brewer Family & Buddha.  Mike Mauk & Scraps and Milo.  Kelly Cook & Pedro and in memory of Kelly's beloved Conchita.
--Bob and Dody Cordes, Guinness, Ozzie, Harriett, and Murphy.

Hal, Suzanne Andrew & Elyse Pate and Ki-Kitty.  Bob, Dody Cordes and Guinness, Ozzie, Harriett & Murphy.  Garry, Sandy, Nicole, & Michael Albrecht and Snickers & Tiger.  Ms. Kelly Stoll and her new addition Aurora.  Also in memory of Kelly's beloved Grayboy.
--Mike Mauk

Being Thankful

I am thankful for my rescue and new home.
--Avery "Okey"

 

- -  H o m e 2 C a t s . o r g  - -

 

Our mission is:
To provide food, medical care, love and sanctuary for injured, disabled or abused animals.
To educate the public in what constitutes responsible cat care and ownership.
To engage in other activities related to animal rescue and public education about cat care and responsibilities.

 

- -  H o m e 2 C a t s . o r g  - -

 

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