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When you bring a cat with cerebellar hypoplasia into your family, you should expect to have to make some changes to accommodate their needs and abilities. For cats with more mild cases of CH, you may only need a special litter box at most; for cats with more severe cases, you may need furniture ramps or child play pens to keep them safe and secure. One question/consideration that almost always comes up is whether or not hardwood floors are okay for CH cats. Can CH cats walk on hardwood floors, or do all the floors need to be carpeted?
The answer to this is not cut and dried. As with everything else, it depends on the individual cat.
It’s no secret that CH kitties are wobbly and uncoordinated. Many of them rely on their claws to help keep them balanced when they walk. Cats with more severe cases of CH who can’t walk at all fully rely on their claws to pull and scoot themselves around. The problem with hardwood or vinyl flooring is that there isn’t anything for them to grab on to. Picture someone trying to walk on an ice skating rink in just regular tennis shoes. They would be slipping and sliding all over the place. That’s what it’s like for some CH kitties when they try to get around on uncarpeted flooring. They have a hard time getting traction, so they can slip, slide, and fall even more than usual.
That being said, some CHers do just fine with hardwood flooring. They may slip a little bit, but for the most part they are able to get around without any trouble.
What if my CH cat can’t walk on my hardwood floors?
If your CH kitty doesn’t like hardwood floors or struggles with them too much, don’t worry. You won’t have to move or spend thousands of dollars installing carpet throughout your home! There are several things you can do to make things easier and more comfortable for your kitty.
Rugs and Runners
You can place rugs and runners strategically around your home. Under the beds and other furniture are great places for area rugs, as they will provide stability for your kitty as she gets up and down on the furniture. Not only will they give her something to grab onto as she goes up and down, they will also provide some padding if she falls off the furniture. Carpet runners work really well for those long hallways too.
A popular solution in the CH community to the hardwood flooring dilemma is placing foam tiles around your house. These are great for providing extra cushion as well as providing traction for wobbly cats to get around better. You can put them around your cat tree or other high traffic areas – places where your CHer tends to crash and fall the most.
Sure, having carpet runners and foam tiles around your house may not always fit with your decor, but it’s a small price to pay to make life easier for your kitty. You can actually find some nice looking rugs and runners, and they even have foam tiles that are made to look like carpeting or hardwood floors!
Sophie’s Love of Hardwood Flooring
Our Sophie girl does well with the hardwood vinyl flooring we have in our home. I was worried about it at first because our previous two homes were carpeted. I didn’t know what to expect when we moved into our current home, which has vinyl hardwood everywhere except in the bedrooms. She struggled with the floors a little bit at first, but it didn’t take her long to figure out how to navigate them. Now she runs back and forth down the hallway with only the occassional spill.
Sophie even seems to prefer the hardwood floors, especially during playtime. The slipperiness adds a little extra thrill to whatever game she is playing. We have area rugs in the living room and den and usually try to encourage Sophie to stay on them when we’re playing so she doesn’t struggle as much. While it’s true she does better on the rugs, oftentimes she refuses to get on them and stays on the hardwood flooring instead. She loves to slide around as she chases her beloved STICK! Why stay on the boring carpet when you can slide around on the floor instead?! It’s so much better!!! ;D She reminds me of kids playing on a slip-n-slide.
Do you have a cat with cerebellar hypoplasia? How does he/she do with your flooring? What solutions have you found to work the best?