“Four-On-The-Floor” Rule!

One of the “rules” that I heard upon adopting Bifford was “four-on-the-floor” and all I could think is “what the he!! does that even mean!?” But it makes sense when handling a cerebellar hypoplasia animal and one of the various ways you can ensure their safety!

Cat’s usually have no issues with landing on their feet when they jump down onto the floor but CH pet parents know that this is usually not the case with cerebellar hypoplasia animals.

The rule of thumb “four-on-the-floor” is an effective and friendly reminder to new pet parents, friends & family members to place a CH pet gently onto the ground while properly ensuring all four of their paws are planted firmly on the ground before letting go of them.

Note: This does NOT promise that they will not fall/stumble over but will help ensure they do not fall/stagger from a distance!

Most pet parents (or humans in general!) know that generally cats can jump from a distance onto the ground and land successfully on their feet without issue. This is NOT the case with cerebellar hypoplasia animals and if someone was to let a CH pet jump from a distance this could result in injury to your special baby (or injury to you attempting to catch a falling pet, get caught by a claw etc.!)

“Four-on-the-floor” is a safe, effective and cute way to remember that CH pets need a little assistance when being placed on the floor!

So remember to “PLANT THOSE PAWS” on the ground!

Bloodwork & Your Cat

Bloodwork is recommended yearly to monitor for any changes/potential concerns as well as prior to any surgeries or procedures requiring anesthesia! Talk to your veterinarian about having bloodwork completed on your pet or if you have any questions about having bloodwork ran on your pet!

GLUCOSE is a blood sugar.  Elevated levels can indicate diabetes mellitus, but in cats, mildly elevated levels can also just indicate stress.  Low levels can happen with insulin shock or malabsorption syndromes and can cause weakness, seizures, or death.

SERUM UREA NITROGEN (also known as Blood Urea Nitrogen) generally indicates kidney function.  An increased level is called azotemia, and can be caused by kidney, liver, and heart disease, urethral obstruction, shock, and dehydration.

SERUM CREATININE is a more specific indicator of kidney function in cats, although it can also be affected by dehydration and urethral obstruction.  An increased level without dehydration or urethral obstruction generally indicates kidney disease.

URIC ACID is a nonspecific value in cats, and does not indicate any disease processes.

ALT (Alanine aminotransferase) is a sensitive indicator of active liver damage but doesn’t indicate the cause.

TOTAL BILIRUBIN elevations may indicate liver or hemolytic (red blood cell destruction)disease.  This test helps identify bile duct problems in the liver and certain types of anemia. 

DIRECT BILIRUBIN elevations are another indication of liver disease and hemolysis.

ALKALINE PHOSPHATASE elevations may indicate liver damage or can also be a result of active bone growth in young kittens.  In adult cats, this is especially significant for liver damage.

AST (Asparate aminotransferase) increases are also very nonspecific, and can indicate liver, heart, or skeletal muscle damage.

INDIRECT BILIRUBIN is calculated using the total bilirubin and the direct bilirubin, and is not significant as a diagnostic test.

BUN/CREAT RATIO is calculated using the serum urea nitrogen and the serum creatinine.  In some cases, this result can help indicate if azotemia is from dehydration or kidney disease.

CHOLESTEROL is used to supplement diagnosis of hypothyroidism, liver disease, Cushing’s disease, and diabetes mellitus.  This is not a prognostic factor for heart disease such as in people.

TRIGLYCERIDES are not a significant value in cats.  They can be elevated if the cat has eaten recently, or in some disease processes, but are not a significant diagnostic factor.

CALCIUM deviations can indicate a variety of diseases.  Tumors, hyperparathyroidism, kidney disease, and low albumin are just a few of the conditions that alter serum calcium.

PHOSPHORUS elevations are often associated with significant kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, and bleeding disorders.

SODIUM is an electrolyte lost with vomiting, diarrhea, and kidney and Addison’s disease.  This test helps indicate hydration status.

POTASSIUM is an electrolyte lost with vomiting, diarrhea, or excessive urination. Decreased levels can be an early indicator of kidney insufficiency.  Increased levels may indicate Addison’s disease, dehydration and urethral obstruction. High levels can lead to cardiac arrest.

CHLORIDE is an electrolyte often lost with vomiting and Addison’s disease. Elevations often indicate dehydration.

SERUM PROTEIN indicates hydration status and provides additional information about the liver,kidneys, and infectious diseases.

SERUM ALBUMIN is a protein that helps evaluate hydration, hemorrhage, and intestinal, liver, and kidney disease.

GLOBULIN is calculated from serum total protein and serum albumin.  This is a blood protein that often increases with chronic inflammation and certain disease states.

OSMOLALITY CALCULATED is a calculated indicator of hydration status, and can help with interpretation of other blood values.

T4 (ANIMAL THYROXINE) is a thyroid hormone.  Decreased levels in cats do not signal hypothyroidism, rather, they can indicate an underlying disease process.  Elevated levels indicate hyperthyroidism.

Complete Blood Count (CBC)

WHITE BLOOD COUNT measures the body’s immune cells. Increases or decreases indicate certain diseases or infections.

RED BLOOD COUNT is the number of red blood cells per unit volume of blood.  Increases or decreases can indicate dehydration or anemia.

HEMOGLOBIN is the oxygen carrying pigment of red blood cells.  Increases or decreases in this number must be interpreted with other blood values.

HEMATOCRIT is probably the most important value of the red blood cells. This value measures the percentage of red blood cells in the blood to detect anemia, dehydration, and can help indicate some disease processes.

MCV (Mean cell volume) is the average red blood cell size. This value can help indicate some disease processes, but must be interpreted with other data.

MCH (Mean cell hemoglobin) is the average amount of hemoglobin per red blood cell.  This value can help indicate some disease processes, but must be interpreted with other data.

MCHC (Mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration) is another value for interpreting hemoglobin concentrations in cells.

RDW (Red blood cell distribution width) elevations can indicate that there is an increased variety in red blood cell sizes.  This value should be interpreted along with other red blood cell values.

PLATELET COUNT measures cells that are used in blood clotting.

NEUTROPHILS are a type of white blood cells of the immune system.  An elevation or decrease in absolute or total neutrophil counts can indicate a variety of processes including stress, inflammation, infection, or other disease processes.

LYMPHOCYTES are another type of white blood cells of the immune system.  An elevation or decrease in absolute or total lymphocyte counts can indicate a variety of processes including stress, inflammation, infection, or other disease processes.

MONOCYTES are a less common type of white blood cells of the immune system that can indicate stress or chronic inflammation.

EOSINOPHILS are a type of white blood cells of the immune system.  An elevation in absolute or total eosinophils can indicate allergy disorders, parasitism,and some skin and intestinal disorders.

BASOPHILS are a less common type of white blood cells of the immune system. Elevations in these can indicate allergy disorders, parasitism, and neoplastic states.

“CH” Proofing!

Adopting a new CH baby or a new CH pet parent? Take a deep breath and remember that you “got” this! Remember that JUST like children each pet is different so “proofing” for one family may not be exactly like the next!

What do you need to purchase BEFORE your new addition comes home?

  • Food/Water Dishes (I always recommend a silicone based dish for safety and stability as pictured below – the photographed bowls you can remove the stainless steel dishes and strictly use the silicon portion for holding your new addition’s food & water!)
Silicone food/water dishes such as this one is dishwasher safe and catches any mess from your new baby!
  • Depending on the “severity” of your new special baby (Bifford is considered “moderate” and only needs certain accommodations) they may need ramps to help them into bed or furniture ! Again depending on the severity of your new baby you still may need to help them use the ramp/get onto the furniture to further insure their safety!
Ramp for the furniture such as this one has a carpeted/felt material on the ramp providing better traction for your special baby)
  • Low rise litter box (or in Bifford’s case a rubber maid container with a hole cut out!)
Low rise litter boxes such as this one are available online (such as Amazon or Petco)
  • Washable “pee pads” to use in the event of any “accidents” (or like we do with Bifford place them outside of his litter boxes to catch any mess he was attempting to bring with him!)
  • Spray Shampoo (our favorite is Burt’s Bees brand of feline spray shampoo — no water and it has a nice natural scent to it that is not overpowering!)

Pet Proofing — “Safety!”

  • Small and dangerous objects like paper clips, nails, staples, thread, pins/needles, rubber bands, tacks — basically anything that has fallen on the floor that shouldn’t be there.
  • Any electrical cords that are too long, suggest taping the cords to the floor (a tape which can be purchased online) or running the cords out of your pets way.
  • Intriguing things like plants, electrical cords, drapes, the pulls/cords on blinds, other cords.
  • Also consider if there are any objects (furniture/decorations) that could fall over if knocked-into, or if something could fall of the furniture.
  • Be mindful of sharp corners of furniture or fragile items that your new pet could accidentally fall into and cause them to break.
  • Don’t forget to check your window screens — they should fit securely and should not give way in case your cat leans against them.
  • Odoban! It comes in a spray bottle or a one gallon jug and it breaks up any enzymes in your pet’s urine or bowel movements that may be on the floor/blanket etc.!
Odoban can be purchased on Chewy or Amazon and even found at your local Wal-Mart!
  • Close closet doors and make sure you keep your room tidy. That means keeping laundry and shoes (consider shoelaces and loose buttons) in your closet or behind other closed doors.
  • Remove plants, if necessary.
  • Move all wires so they’re out of your pet’s reach.
  • Take a look at what you have on night stands, dressers, etc. If necessary, move the items into a drawer or cabinet.
  • Close all drawers entirely. You never know when a cat will crawl in.
  • Check your bed’s box spring. Cats and kittens are known to find their ways into them.
  • Be mindful of closed doors — make sure your cat isn’t in your closet or bathroom before closing the door.

  • Purchase trash cans that your pets can’t get in to (like those with lids), or hide your trash can in a cabinet. Don’t forget about small wastebaskets in the bathroom — cats can easily turn them over and rummage through the contents.
  • Use childproof latches to keep cabinet doors from being pulled open. (This is usually the case with cabinets that don’t have latches to keep them shut in the first place.)
  • Place all medications, cleaners, and chemicals on high shelves or in childproofed cabinets. Similarly, keep insecticides, rodent poisons and dryer sheets out of reach.
  • Look for small spaces your pets can squeeze into — behind appliances, between an appliance and the wall, etc. — and find ways to seal them.
  • Always keep the doors to your washer and dryer closed. Before doing each load of laundry get a visual on every furry member of your household.
  • Always put down the toilet seat lid. Cats can easily fall in and drown.

  • Again, look for small spaces your pets can squeeze into — under your couch, holes in furniture, etc. — and find ways to seal them.
  • Move wires and cords from lamps, entertainment systems and phones so your cat can’t access them. Petfinder.com suggests running the cords through PVC pipes to prevent pets from chewing on them. You can also purchase sprays that give the wires a bad taste, or run them under heavy rugs and carpets.
  • Watch your cat carefully when opening a front or back door.

In some severe CH cases your pet may benefit from you purchasing a “portable crib” for pets (found the one photographed below on Amazon) to help keep your baby safe (and the carpeted insert allows you to easily remove it to wash it in the event of any “accidents”!)

Have any suggestions/tips or tricks? Post them below and we will include them in our “Guide for New CH Pet Parents!”

New “CH” Pet Parents

Being like me as a new “specially-abled” pet parent I was unsure what I was embarking on and had a plethora of emotions (mainly excitement! But of course there was a dash of fear in there also). Most of the things I have learned by “on-the-job” training as well as the love, support & guidance of other specially-abled pet parents. I highly suggest you join the many Facebook groups that are dedicated to cerebellar hypoplasia (and other specially-abled!) animals and never be afraid to reach out for questions or guidance! Blogs and forums such as Kitty Cat Chronicles also became my saving grace and honestly the gift that both Bifford and I needed to better understand one another. Learning and patience are the two most important points when adopting (or fostering!) a specially-abled pet!

Below is a list of items, tips, tricks & suggestions compiled by fellow CH-pet parents! Have anything to add to the list? E-mail us today and we will include it!

  1. If you notice your new special baby stressed or overly anxious try to utilize the Feliway spray as well as try to get your baby into a “routine”. I noticed that Bifford enjoyed having a semi-structured routine (we woke him up from his “big boy room” and fed him breakfast, then we would let him play the day away with his brother and sisters then “mommy” would be home from work so he got snuggle time then it was dinnertime and then lounging with “mom and dad” before bedtime). I found that if anything derailed his routine in such a dramatic way he would freak out (and eventually that turned into stress cystitis, but that is a topic for another post!
  2. Schedule regular dental cleanings/examinations! I cannot tell you how many times when I first brought Bifford home would he sneeze a little too aggressively or be playing and “biff” it a little to hard and hurt his mouth or even chip a tooth! By having regular dental cleanings done I was able to address any injured teeth (injured= extremely painful).
  3. Construct a first aid kit for cats! This will come in handy if your little angel stumbles and falls or gets a “booboo” that may need a little attention when your veterinarian is closed (or you need to address and stabilize while en route to the veterinarian!)
  4. Invest in a low lip litter box! We actually made “BHOP” (Bifford’s House of Poop” which was a 13 gallon Rubbermaid container that Bifford’s “dad” cut a hole out on the bottom of one side (always use caution when using power/sharp tools!) This way Bifford could easily bobble into BHOP and do his absolute worse inside and there was no spillage or issue! He could also fall in it (or sometimes, play) without him knocking the entire thing over or causing any damage/injury!
  5. COMMUNICATION! When you adopt one of these special babies call your regular veterinarian right away (or send them a letter/postcard!) letting them know you adopted a specially abled pet (e-mail us if you would like our informational packet for veterinarians/veterinary staff) and if they have any questions (or maybe concerns) about these special babies. (Check out our map of veterinarians that are aware and understand these special kiddos here)

First Aid Kit Suggestions/Inventory:

  1. Blood Clotting Powder (Styptic Powder)
  2. Saline Wound Flush (Arm & Hammer Simply Saline Wound Wash)
  3. Wound Disinfectant (e.g., Povidone Iodine or Chlorhexidine Diacetate)
  4. Cotton Balls/Swabs
  5. Gauze Pads (“sponges”)
  6. Non-Stick Bandage Pads 
  7. Gauze Roll
  8. Bandage Tape
  9. Blunt-Tip Bandage Scissors
  10. Splint(s) 
  11. 3% Hydrogen Peroxide
  12.  Antibiotic Ointment 
  13. Eye Flush (saline) 
  14. Battery Powered Beard Trimmer/Hair Clippers (for trimming fur around wounds — it’s best to avoid using scissors for this purpose) & do not forget to get batteries!
  15. Digital Thermometer
  16. Lube (Surgilube Lube or Petroleum Jelly)
  17. Instant-Cold Packs
  18. Muzzle (pets in pain are more likely to bite — even their owner)
  19. Oral Syringes 
  20.  Pillowcase (Makes for a great and quick temporary transport “makeshift cat carrier” in a pinch!)
  21.  Exam Gloves
  22. Flashlight
  23. List of emergency veterinary facilities, regular veterinary physician, and other important numbers!
  24. Tweezers/Hemostats
  25. Antiseptic Spray/Wipes
  26. Towel/Blanket
  27. Nail Clippers (for animals)