Introducing Wobbles the Cat
Wobbles is a rescue kitty Simon the vet has had had since she was 6 weeks old (she is now 8). As a kitten Wobbles was diagnosed with a condition called cerebellar hypoplasia, this is a congenital condition where part of her brain (the cerebellum) never developed properly. The cerebellum is the part of the brain responsible for co-ordinating complex movements so cats (and other animals) with this condition typically show signs of incoordination while walking, running, jumping and pouncing. Additionally, they will often have an intention tremor - this is when an affected cat will start shaking as they are planning to do something.
Although relatively severely affected when she was a kitten wobbles has learned to live within her limitations and has a great life, she doesn't climb trees or jump onto the couch but she loves a tummy rub and a cuddle. The cerebellum is an 'unconscious' part of the brain which means that Wobbles is not aware that she is any different to other cats!
The most common cause of cerebellar hypoplasia is infection of the mother cat with panleukopenia in the late stages of pregnancy. Panleukopenia is a virus that is vaccinated against as part of the regular vaccinations we give to cats. This is one of the many reasons to make sure that vaccinations are kept up to date not only for breeding queens but in all cats so that we reduce the transmission of the infection throughout the cat population.