Hypoplasia in Cats

Hypoplasia is also known as cerebellar hypoplasia, and is a condition that may affect the entire system of the feline. The problem originates from the part of the brain known as the cerebellum. In hypoplasia, the cerebellum is not developed properly. It can be caused by infections, toxicity or poor diet, or it can be an inherited condition. The condition cannot be treated, but if not severely affected, cats with hypoplasia can live a normal lifespan.

Causes of Hypoplasia

Feline hypoplasia occurs in kittens, typically under the age of 6 weeks. The cerebellum in the brain contains a number of fast growing cells, but these will not develop at a normal rate. This may be due to:

  • The panleukopenia virus, which is most frequently transmitted from the mother while the kitten is in the uterus
  • Bacteria and viruses
  • Toxicity (ingestion of drugs, antifreeze, rat poison or other poisonous substances)
  • Hereditary causes

Symptoms of Hypoplasia

The first signs of hypoplasia may be visible when the kitten starts to walk, as the walk will be defective. Other symptoms of hypoplasia may include:

  • Constant moving of head
  • Unsteady movements
  • Lifting the feet at an unusual height when trying to walk
  • Shaking of limbs
  • Lack of coordination
  • Confusion
  • Lack of appetite or total refusal to eat

Some kittens may have less severe symptoms; it all depends on how affected the brain is.

Diagnosis of Feline Hypoplasia

The symptoms displayed by the kitten are enough for a clear diagnosis, but the vet may perform a brain scan, just to make sure. Some other medical conditions such as low blood sugar or kidney failure may sometimes lead to similar symptoms. Consequently, a blood analysis may be performed to rule out these possible underlying medical conditions.

Treatment for Feline Hypoplasia

Hypoplasia in cats cannot be cured and the cat will need to get support therapy. The cat should be assisted in his movements and he should avoid climbing stairs. You may create a room where the cat can spend his day and make sure to remove all obstacles and add a lot of pillows, so that the cat will avoid hurting himself if accidentally falling. The cat should be kept indoors and if possible, supervised. If the cat cannot eat or move he may receive IV fluids with nutrients, but most vets will recommend euthanasia, as the cat's condition will not improve.

Hypoplasia Prognosis

The prognosis for a cat with cerebellar hypoplasia will depend on the severity of the disease. If the kitten's cerebellum development has been only partially affected and the cat can eat and move without needing to be assisted, he may have a normal life expectancy. The development deficits will not advance, but will be present for life. Some pets may adapt and overcome certain deficits. However, if the cat's development is severely affected, he may need to be euthanized.