Loss of muscular coordination due to neurological damage or disease.
feline cerebellar ataxiasee feline panleukopenia.
feline panleukopenia (FPL) -also known as feline distemper (emphasis in text below added by me)
an acute disease, particularly of young cats, caused by feline parvovirus. Clinical signs are depression, vomiting, diarrhea and marked dehydration. There is a panleukopenia of varying severity that aids in diagnosis. Intrauterine or perinatal infection may cause fetal death, abortion, neonatal deaths, and a degeneration of the external layer of the cerebellum that results in a cerebellar ataxia in surviving kittens. Most infections are subclinical, but in clinical cases mortality is high. The disease can be prevented by vaccination at an early age. All felids, mustelids and procyonids are also susceptible to feline panleukopenia virus infection.
More info about Feline Panleukopenia Virus here.
When Mike married me he became daddy to my precious cat, Bleecker. We had added Lexi** to the family months before, but something still led us to the Humane Society after work one evening "just to look."
And there she was. Being settled down in her cage by the woman who had fostered her the first weeks of her life. Looking like a 12-week-old rat, biting at the woman's finger with her tiny teeth, being told No, Belle and then having a proper toy presented to her. We approached the cage holding the shelter's youngest kitten and noticed that her head shook constantly. The foster mother said She's a Wobbler, and explained that the condition was passed to her by the mother who had feline distemper. She told us that the shelter would be looking for a low stress home for the kitten, and that she must forever be an inside cat for her own protection.
We went home and thought about her, and I called from work the next day to place a hold on her. The representative I spoke with said The foster mother was so hoping that you would call back for her! I dashed over after work and immediately took her to a vet nearby because I wanted her tested and initial shots given before I brought her home to Bleecker and Lexi. The vet said that she had been misidentified as a Wobbler, and that she had cerebellar ataxia. It was a mild enough case, he said, that she should probably have a normal life provided we protect her from danger. Her little head just vibrated as he performed the check-up. He didn't even really ask me so much as tell me -- as he picked her and headed for the interior clinic door -- that he must take her around to his colleagues so that each of them could see the condition. Survival in kittens is rare enough that she was a study case of interest.
That night in our condo we struggled with names, ate dinner, returned to the upstairs study where she stayed her first week and stared at her as she played. Then Mike said: Feather and she had her name. There was a dark gray patch on top of her head that disappeared after her first year, leaving her a pure white puff who responds to the chant I made for her back then:
"pink toes, pink nose, little pink ear bows."
This is Feather in the condo at five months old.
Here she is in our home in 2007, eleven years old.
Yes, Feather's head still shakes when she gets overly tired or if she's frightened by a loud noise. There is always the slightest quiver there but hardly detectable. She's actually the healthiest cat we've had for any period of time (I will write in the future about Bleecker who was cursed with medical issues and who fought to stay with us for as long as he could, 16 years). When Feather has her annual exams the vet always comments on how great her teeth are (never had dentistry for her but two of the garage cats......extractions), how strong her heart and lungs are, how calm she is.
When Mike comes home at night Feather is most likely on the bed where, each morning, I place a heating pad in the exact spot where she sleeps every night between my feet. I put it under the spread and turn it on low with the control on top of the bed so that I remember to turn it off when I leave the house or when she is elsewhere in the house. However, no matter where she is at the time he goes to the closet to change out of his office clothes Feather runs to be with him. It is a routine that's now over a decade and counting. Because she knows that as soon as he's put on his sweat pants/shirt she will be up in his arms being carried around the house like a princess.
I took this video (35 sec.) of Feather on her warm spot a few weeks ago. She's 13 now..... healthy, precious, and very loved.
* author unknown
** Lexi's story is pretty amazing......you'll need time and tissues.