Spotlight on Bottle Baby: Willie

by shoreyr • Posted in: Awareness/ PR, Special Needs Pets

Willie is a precious brown tabby with white markings. He is a bottle baby who was rescued at barely 3 weeks old with his sister, Wildfire, a black & white tuxedo. Willie is good bottle eater, loving & playful. We are looking for a special foster home for these two gorgeous siblings. Willie is a very special kitten because he may have Cerebellar Hypoplasia (CH).

What is CH?

Basically, it’s an underdeveloped cerebellar, which is a complex part of the central nervous system tucked in near the brain. In both people and kitties, the cerebellar is responsible for sending messages from your feet as well as from the vestibular apparatus in your middle ear to the rest of your body. This information helps you deternine up from down, and where your body is in relation to the things around you. A CT Scan or MRI will be the only way to definitively diagnose CH in Willie, but the signs are well-known by veterinarians, and so far Willie is showing the signs


What causes CH?

The Feline Distemper virus in the mother cat during pregnancy, even exposure from the live distemper vaccine, can affect the kittens.

What does this mean for Willie?

For Willie, this means he just has balance issues, and while most tiny kittens struggle to find balance as they learn to move around, Willie is especially wobbly. Sitting still or nursing from his bottle, he may look like a fairly normal kitten but once focused on a toy, bottle or friendly hand, he has slight tremors that make him wobbly. Still, despite the obvious impairment, Willie is a content little kitten needing all the love that any kitten does, as well as a safe environment while he grows. There are two great videos of kitties & adult cats that are living with CH:

Charley and Gordon

What does a Potential Foster or Future Adopter Need to Know?

Willie needs a foster home that can keep him initially isolated (with his sister so he’s not lonely) with minimal areas for him to climb (and fall from) until he is a few weeks older. A bathroom could work nicely. The foster home should be able to create safe areas for him to explore when he’s a bit older, with soft places (pillows, plants) for landing when he will inevitably topple over. He will also need food dishes that can’t tip over, and a litterbox with sides tall enough where he can get in as a kitten, but still have enough height so he can lean on them for support. When he begins to eat canned kitten food or “gruel” (canned kitten food mixed with water) he will be MESSY. His imbalance escalates when he tries to focus, so he will be best fed in a bathtub or plastic bin when he’s first learning to eat. As an adult, he will need a higher sided litterbox or any Jumbo litterbox.

Some on-line communities have sprung up for owners of cats with cerebellar hypoplasia. Two areas that might be of interest are:

If you would like to consider fostering Willie & Wildfire, please complete our Foster Application. You can specify that you’d like to foster these (or any) kittens on the form.

We’re grateful to have had the chance to rescue Willie & Wildfire. Many CH kittens don’t make it out of the shelter, but we’re confident they can live wonderfully long, happy lives.

(information provided in this post are from,, and YouTube)

6 Responses to "Spotlight on Bottle Baby: Willie"

  1. Patsays: September 15, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    Has Willie found a foster family or a home yet?

  2. shoreysays: September 15, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Hi Pat – Willie is currently in foster care, but is still available for adoption.

  3. Beth Chasesays: September 28, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    I live in New Braunfels. I had a CH kitty for over 10 years. His name was Buddy. There are some cases that are very severe (you will see them if you find some more on YouTube.) Very sad. Willie doesn’t look too bad. Buddy was a very unusual cat. On YouTube there is another video called “My Name Is Charlie” and Charlie was about the same as Buddy. I belong to the CH Kitty club. They used to be more active than they are now, but can still give you lots of information. I don’t mind being contacted either because in the many years I had Buddy, I learned alot about CH. Willie will do fine. He does need to find someone who will give him lots of love and attention and attend to his special needs. As he gets older he will probably walk better. It seems like putting on a little weight makes gravity workk with them better. Raising his food and water dishes would be good too because if he has alot of head-bobbing he will need that. Willie makes me miss Buddy so bad. Buddy died of Acute Kidney Failure this year in June…Love that little Willie with everything you have. What a precious little guy.

  4. Beth Chasesays: September 28, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    (I tried your link to the chkitty club and it’s not working.)

  5. Ashleysays: May 16, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    Where is willie at now? I would love to see him or see a picture!

  6. austinpetsalivesays: May 17, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    Willie was adopted last fall. His new mom wrote:

    He brings me so much joy and is a great companion. He’s funny, affectionate, playful, loves to be wherever I am, and has so much personality.