Cat Sanctuary

Another Wobbly Boy

More than a year ago we took in our beloved Tumbleweed, who totters around, occasionally tumbling over – an example of a cat with CH or cerebellar hypoplasia, better known as wobbly cat syndrome.  Currently we have another wobbly boy on our hands – but wobbly for a different reason.  

Pets for me? (LBF)

Ranger has been a resident of Pen 4 since he came to us – initially landing there as a feral, and gradually warming to human attention, so that he really doesn’t deserve the feral label any more.  Most of the Pen 4 cats run and hide, or at least distance themselves when we enter the pen – Ranger comes towards us, looking for acknowledgement and sometimes petting. Occasionally when I come to do the morning clean-up he will be waiting at the gate. I let him come out and do a little explore around, and usually by the time I’m done, he’ll be waiting to be let back in to Pen 4.

Out and about…. (MW)

The med staff keep an eye on where the shyer cats are, and they always check pens 4 and 7, the feral pens, so when Ranger was not around it didn’t take long for someone to investigate, and discover the poor boy struggling to get around. He was gathered up and popped into a cage for investigation, where it became clear that it was a vestibular problem. This is an inner ear condition, sometimes caused by an infection, sometimes idiopathic (meaning the vets just don’t know what makes it happen). We’ve had our share of cats like this. Carly Simon, in the front courtyard, had a run-in with it last year, and has now totally recovered;  our beloved Willow, in the back, still shows the tilted head that is a remnant of the condition.

Tumbleweed & Willow (BC)

So now we have Ranger safely caged so that he can be medicated. He staggers around like someone who’s had way too much to drink. Initially he was in a raised cage in Newcomers, but med-staff Louise has relocated him to one of the DoubleWide cages. This gives several advantages – the cages are larger, the shelf can be taken out so that he won’t be tempted to climb and jump, and he will have more human contact, being closer to the med-staff.

on the mend (BC)

Lap time with a sweet boy (BC)

I was working in the DoubleWide when Louise moved him, and he was not happy about it. As I did my rounds with canned food, fresh kibble and water, I could hear him protesting this new space – as we all know, cats usually don’t like change! Once work was done, I went to find him and spend time with him. Initially he was very active – awkwardly climbing across my legs, and feeling out his space. Once he was more relaxed, he went to finish off his dinner, have a drink (a pretty splashy affair!) and then proceeded to climb all over me with wet paws. It took a few position changes for him to find his comfort-space, and then he relaxed and slept for twenty minutes.

I’m old enough that getting down on the floor with cats takes a bit of planning, and getting up definitely takes work! But Ranger was obviously calmer as I extricated myself, righted his cage and slipped out – I hope that just that bit of TLC time left him feeling less a stranger in a strange space. Now we hope that the antibiotics do their job of clearing up whatever has affected his inner ears, so that, wobble-free, he can get back to his beloved Pen 4, his pen-mates and the good life he has with us at the Sanctuary.


Blog by Brigid Coult
Featured image: “Ranger” by Karen Nicholson
Photos by Brigid Coult, Karen Nicholson & Michele Wright