Should my mom adopt a special-needs little brother for me?

Elizabeth ClarkeElizabeth Clarke BerkeleyMember Posts: 1,818 ✭✭
edited 3 December, 2007 in Choosing the Right Cat
I admit it, I am a princess. I am a kind and benevolent ruler, and I have excellent manners, but I am definitely spoiled, and I like it that way. Well, Mom thinks maybe a little brother would be good for me, and also give me a playmate when Mom goes back to school next year. The cat in consideration to share my throne is Skeeter, a six-month old male at the local shelter where Mom volunteers. I haven\'t met the little scamp, but Mom says he is sweet, playful, loves other cats, loves people, and incidentally is cute as the dickens (he\'s a golden-eyed brown tabby with spots like an ocelot!). She has two main concerns: 1) How will I adjust to another cat? Usually at the shelter, they do a personality inventory of each cat to determine that sort of thing, but Mom adopted me straight out of the shelter hospital so they never did those tests on me. Is there any way to know how I will react to another cat in my territory? (Of course, Mom would start Skeeter off in an isolation room and introduce us gradually.) 2) Skeeter has a mild neurological disorder of unknown origin. Mom has played with him and says he seems fine to her; maybe a little clumsy. However, he has already been adopted and returned to the shelter once before, because he sometimes has episodes where he appears confused, un-coordinated, and as though he can\'t see. During these episodes he acts frightened and aggressive (understandably!). He has tested negative for FIV, FeLV, etc, and the vet couldn\'t find anything organically wrong with him -- it\'s not epilepsy or any other treatable condition -- so they think it may be congenital, or the result of an illness or head injury in infancy. In other words, it probably won\'t ever get any better or worse. Mom thinks it is shameful that someone would return this adorable little guy to the shelter just because he is different, but she understands that not everyone is cut out to care for a special cat. Her heart is breaking for him already, and she really wants to give him a forever-home. But I am the princess around here, so I get the last word! What do other cats think?

Comments

  • Diana GabaldonDiana Gabaldon PortlandMember Posts: 5,607
    edited 28 November, 2007
    Oh Jubilee I think this is a great idea. I bet you would love another kitty in the house. Someone to play with and sleep with. I think its great that your mom wants to adopt the special needs boy for you. Since she knows what his symptoms are like it won't be a suprise to her when he has an episode. My only question is, you said he sometimes acts agressive when he has an episode. Is he agressive to other cats during that time? The people at the shelter can probably answer that question. We have several friends here on Catster that were only kitties for a while and really loved it when another kitty was introduced. I hope it is that way for you. Purrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrs
  • Kelly HendryKelly Hendry Charlottesville, VAMember Posts: 556
    edited 28 November, 2007
    You are a great age to get a little brother. A lot of people on here recommend getting a younger cat of the opposite sex, especially with cats who like to be alphas, so this sounds like it could be a good match especially if you're going to have less time to spend with her in the near future. It can take a lot of time and patience to get them to be friends, but I think its worth it in the long run. We got Hunter right before I moved into an apartment by myself and started law school. Sam definitely gets less attention (no more roommates to love him!) and sees me less, but he is just obviously more content. Even though they fight, he doesn't wake me up at 4 am anymore, and doesn't cause as much trouble. If I separate them when they're fighting they'll each sit on opposite sides of the door and stick their paws under it. Lots of people have special needs kitties, and if the vets dont expect his problem to require a lot of extra care and expenses, I wouldn't worry too much. One of my friends has a cat with brain damage from drinking anti freeze (BEFORE he belonged to her), and hes still a happy cat and a great companion.
  • Elizabeth ClarkeElizabeth Clarke BerkeleyMember Posts: 1,818 ✭✭
    edited 28 November, 2007
    Thanks for your input, Diego and Sam! That's a great question, Diego. That is also a reason Mom is concerned; she wouldn't want Skeeter to accidentally hurt me! The behaviorist at the shelter said that the aggressive behavior has occurred towards humans who try to approach him when the episode is happening, and it seems like a scared cat trying to defend himself. The episodes don't happen very often, so there may not have been other cats around at the time. He has always gotten along great with his litter-mates and really enjoys other cats -- that was definitely the first question Mom asked. She will talk more with the shelter staff about this issue, for sure!
  • Forrest JenkinsForrest Jenkins Member Posts: 439
    edited 28 November, 2007
    It doesn't sound like there would be any serious problems except for the possibility of aggression during an episode. Can your mom observe the new boy in the shelter for a while to see if the episodes are somewhat predictable--once every other week, or something like that? That way, maybe she can keep you separate when an episode is likely, or at least make sure she is home to help teach you to stay away when he has problems.
  • Melissa RyanMelissa Ryan Fall RiverMember Posts: 401
    edited 28 November, 2007
    Sounds like Skeeter has Cerebellar Hypoplasia, just like me. It's a neurological disorder which is really brain damage in the area that controls balance, coordination, and some other things. It can be caused by different things, vaccination of mother while kitten was growing in the womb, head trauma, possibly other things. CH kitties can be very nervous with new things but are VERY lovable and usually very good with people and other cats...once they get to know them. I freak out whenever a stranger or strange kitty comes in the house, but once they're part of the normal environment I'm all set. There is absolutely nothing harmful or dangerous about CH kitties. If Skeeter is aggressive, he needs to be calmed down. I used to be the aggressive and bite on Meowmy for no reason. She shushed me and pet me till I calmed down and I was fine. Since your princess kitty is only 2, she too should be fine adjusting to a new kitty, given time. Before you decide what to do, you should really research CH kitties to know what it's all about. Kitties with CH tend to be re-homed several times because of their illness when they are actually quite gentle and good pets. My furever home is my 3rd, it took a while to find someone who wasn't afraid of my disorder! Check out my Catster friend's page, he has a YouTube video that shows a kitty with CH. Just like me and Macchia! http://www.catster.com/cats/611116
  • Diana GabaldonDiana Gabaldon PortlandMember Posts: 5,607
    edited 28 November, 2007
    That video of Charley is great. That was so nice of his family to make that to help bring awareness. Good luck in your decision. Can we see photos of him anywhere? Is he on petfinder or the shelter website?
  • Elizabeth ClarkeElizabeth Clarke BerkeleyMember Posts: 1,818 ✭✭
    edited 29 November, 2007
    Toby, thank you so much for the video link and information! Mom is going back to the shelter today to spend more time with Skeeter and talk to the vet about him. Here is a link to Skeeter's shelter page: http://www.berkeleyhumane.org/php/Pet_Profile.php?id=8377 Isn't he just the cutest? Thanks, everycat, for your input. Mom is thinking this decision over very carefully and she really appreciates the help!
  • Diana GabaldonDiana Gabaldon PortlandMember Posts: 5,607
    edited 29 November, 2007
    He is adorable!!
  • Melissa RyanMelissa Ryan Fall RiverMember Posts: 401
    edited 29 November, 2007
    I wanted to add some more info for you as you think about adopting. The following is the Wikipedia definition of the disorder. "Cerebellar hypoplasia is a disorder found in cats and dogs in which the cerebellum is not completely mature at birth. Usually symptoms of cerebellar hypoplasia can be seen immediately at birth in cats, but sometimes can take two months or so to become apparent in dogs. Cerebellar hypoplasia causes jerky movements, tremors and generally uncoordinated motion. The animal often falls down and has trouble walking. Tremors increase when the animal is excited and subside when at ease. There are several bacterial infections and viral infections such as feline panleukopenia,[1] that can result in the disorder in both cats and dogs. However, the disease can also be caused by malnutrition, poisoning, injury or general accidents during development in the fetus. The disease does not get better or worse with age, but the cat or dog can usually learn to somewhat compensate for it and should have a normal lifespan. Most afflicted animals can lead a fairly normal life if special considerations for the animal's disability are taken by the pet's owner. A related condition seen in cats, dogs, horses, cattle, sheep and other animals is cerebellar abiotrophy. The symptoms are similar, and the two conditions are sometimes confused with each other, but cerebellar abiotrophy occurs due to loss of purkinje cells in the cerebellum that occurs after the animal is born. Cerebellar abiotrophy is usually a genetic condition." From experience, I can tell you these characteristics may be found...(some might be worse than others but they do learn to deal with it over time.) lack of balance lack of depth perception (I tend to jump into walls because I over-exert myself in trying to jump down.) inability to jump high (or well) problems landing from a jump nervousness - especially around loud noises or new things/people wobbly walk/run falling down due to loss of balance possibility of sight problems (one of my eyes dialates more than the other) pecking head motion when eating or sniffing twitching or slight head bob (usually when we think REALLY HARD) Excessive LOVINESS TO OWNER Excessive PLAYFULNESS Meowmy helps me out by having "handicap kitty accessibility" items in the house. I have kitty stairs to get on her bed, and a step stool to get onto the couch. Luckily there is nothing dangerous in my house that I can fall from, I almost did at my Grandpawrents house though and they were worried. I make a mess when i eat because of my pecking so she has something underneath the bowls to catch it. We all have fun scrounging for dropped pieces later, though. I can learn things just like any other kitty, some things just take longer to learn. Things scare me so I often hide from them, hiding is like the "fix all" for all my problems! I require a lot of attention and love to give Meowmy and my furry family kisses and cuddles.
  • Monique ReeceMonique Reece CoronaMember Posts: 775
    edited 29 November, 2007
    I was thinking along the CH lines too, Toby. I have a CH friend on here, named Macchia. She's really cool, and she looks like me in the face:)
  • Elizabeth ClarkeElizabeth Clarke BerkeleyMember Posts: 1,818 ✭✭
    edited 29 November, 2007
    Mom just got back from the shelter, where she spent almost an hour playing with Skeeter and got some more information from the staff. The behaviorist and the vet were both in a meeting, unfortunately, but Mom talked to other staff members and will call or go back again tomorrow to try and talk to the vet. However, it seems pretty clear that Skeeter does not have CH. Yesterday, Skeeter was in a cage by himself, but today he was sharing with two other kittens, so Mom played with all three at once to see how Skeeter interacted socially. Now, Mom thought Skeeter seemed pretty normal yesterday; his clumsiness was so minor that she thought maybe it could just be he's getting to that gawky pre-adolescent stage. He does not walk the way Charley does in the video (when she saw the video, actually, Mom realized that she has met other cats with CH, although she didn't know the name for it then, because Charley's walk was instantly familiar). In fact, watching the three kittens play together today, Mom would not have been able to identify which one had something "wrong" with it. Compared to two other kittens his age, Skeeter's co-ordination was perfectly fine! He loves chasing a ball and wrestling with his pals. At one point, a little girl and her mom (fellow shelter volunteers) came into the room to play with the kittens also. Skeeter was more than happy to play with everyone! He didn't get freaked out all, or at least not out of proportion to the amount of stimulus in the room. The mom said that she and her daughter had spent time with Skeeter before and never noticed anything off-kilter about him. According to the shelter staff, Skeeter's foster-mom, who cared for Skeeter and his littermates until they were old enough to be adopted, reported ONE incident of him acting un-coordinated and confused. I don't know how long his first adoptive family had him before they brought him back, or how many unusual episodes they noticed; Mom is going to try to find that out tomorrow. But the staff said that since Skeeter has been back at the shelter he has been fine and no one has noticed any abnormal behavior -- and these cats do get a lot of care and attention. So, whatever the issue is, it doesn't appear to affect Skeeter's day-to-day life. The staff says he is a super little guy! Mom thinks he is serious little brother material!
  • Faye DufourFaye Dufour Destrehan, LA/New Orleans areaMember Posts: 4,648
    edited 30 November, 2007
    Jubilee: We visited the web site, and Skeeter is a cutie!!! God Bless your meowmy for 1) getting you a little brother 2) taking in a shelter cat 3) and taking so much time and care with the decision;c;;c;;c; Please keep us posted, this little guy deserves a furrever home.... Emma Barrett, Louis Armstrong, Benny Grunch and Pete Fountain "THE POWER OF PURR FOR MORE ADOPTIONS!!":c9:c9
  • Elizabeth ClarkeElizabeth Clarke BerkeleyMember Posts: 1,818 ✭✭
    edited 30 November, 2007
    Here's the update! Mom went to the shelter again today. She decided to be Skeeter's foster-mom for now, and if he and I get along, she will adopt him! She is bringing him home tomorrow! Mom still wasn't able to speak with the vet, but the vet is going to email or call her on Monday to give her all the details on Skeeter's medical history and neurological condition. Now Mom has to go to the pet-supply store and get a new bed, scratching post, litter box, and toys, and set up the kitchen as Skeeter's "safe room." (He can't have Mom's office -- the office is mine!) But since she is fostering, the shelter gave her a discount coupon for pet supplies, woo hoo! I am excited and nervous ... I'm not sure what it will be like to share Mom with another cat. Mom says I will be a great big sister, though!
  • Diana GabaldonDiana Gabaldon PortlandMember Posts: 5,607
    edited 30 November, 2007
    ;c;;c;;c;YAY;c;;c;;c; I think you guys will get along great. Having a cat sibling is pretty fun. You can play with them and chase them and eat their treats. Oops, maybe I shouldn't say that out loud. We can't wait to meet Skeeter. I think the decision to foster him is a great one. Woo Hoo!!!|:|
  • joy wampolejoy wampole Member Posts: 626
    edited 30 November, 2007
    Jubilee I am so happy for you! My mom was nervous when she first considered bringing in foster kittens and wasn't sure how I would react, but I absolutely loved all 13 of them! She decided to keep one of them (Charlita) We play chase, cuddle and get along great most of the time. Best of all, she keeps me active and healthy. We are all looking forward to meeting Skeeter. Just tell your mom she still needs to give you extra attention so you don't feel left out or insecure. (mom loves both of us, but I still get a lot of extra pets!) Purrs, Sophie
  • Diana GabaldonDiana Gabaldon PortlandMember Posts: 5,607
    edited 2 December, 2007
    How is it going Jubilee??
  • Elizabeth ClarkeElizabeth Clarke BerkeleyMember Posts: 1,818 ✭✭
    edited 3 December, 2007
    Mom brought Skeeter home on Saturday, and I just posted a diary entry telling all about it! Check my diary for future updates on how Skeeter is doing, too!
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