Interview with Emily Hall about her CH cat Sophie

This is the full-length interview with Emily of Kitty Cat Chronicles, about her cat, Sophie who was born with cerebellar hypoplasia.

Read the story, see pictures of Sophie and find out more about CH cats. 

How did you come to adopt Sophie?

Delilah and Sampson, the two cats that we adopted before Sophie, came from Circle of Friends Animal Society. They have cat adoptions at PetSmart on the weekends, so my husband and I are frequent weekend shoppers so we can visit all of the adoptable cats. One Sunday, we walked into the cat adoption room and were greeted by this beautiful cat that was playing and just having a great time. We immediately noticed that she was different though; she was very wobbly and unsteady, often losing her balance and falling over. She didn’t seem to mind. She just kept getting right back up, unfazed by her falls, and continued to play. We had no idea what what was wrong or why she was that way, but we sat down and must have watched her play for at least half an hour, laughing and having a great time.

Then my husband picked her up, sealing hers and our fates. She immediately started purring, nuzzled into his arms, and fell asleep. He sat there holding her for well over an hour. We talked to her foster mom, who was running the adoptions, and asked about the cat’s unsteadiness. She explained that that the cat had cerebellar hypoplasia and everything that entailed. We had no intentions of adopting another cat when we went in there, but this cat just seemed so perfect.

We didn’t go home with Sophie that day; we weren’t sure that we could afford to care for a third cat, and we didn’t think it would be fair to us or the cat if we brought her home and then it ended up not working out. It wasn’t until three months after we first met Sophie that we brought her home. We were so lucky that she hadn’t gotten adopted by someone else in that time. It’s like she was meant for us.

What makes Sophie special?

Sophie’s “disability” makes her special. I say “disability” because I don’t like to think of her CH as a disability; it is just part of who she is, and I wouldn’t have her any other way. She doesn’t know she’s different, and she never seems to be bothered by it.

She is by far the happiest cat I have ever met. She never gets annoyed or angry, and I have never once heard her hiss or growl. She is also fearless. She loves going to PetSmart with us, she loves going outside, and she loves meeting new people and making new friends. We have taken her to an outdoor concert before, and we even took her on a boat once! She was in heaven!

Her temperament is so unique, and I think it is in part because of her CH. I think her fearlessness comes from the fact that she has had to overcome so many obstacles, like jumping on and off the couch or learning to climb stairs, things that a “normal” cat can do with no trouble but she has had to really work at. If she was a scaredy-cat, she would spend her life living under a bed somewhere, not doing anything for fear of getting hurt. Instead, she isn’t scared of anything. This is really special, because we are able to do things with her that we wouldn’t be able to do with any of our other cats, like take her to an outdoor concert. I don’t know of any other cat that would enjoy that.

Because she has such a unique temperament, we are in the process of getting her certified to be a therapy cat. I think she will really enjoy that, and I can’t wait to see how this new adventure unfolds.

Tell us an interesting story (or two or several) that you think illustrates her personality.

Like I said, Sophie is fearless. She also has a very determined personality. If there is something she wants to do, she will figure out a way to do it, even if it is something she supposedly “can’t do.”

Shortly after we adopted her, I brought her with me to go visit my mom. My mom’s house has stairs, and I had no idea if Sophie could climb stairs or not. I showed her the stairs as soon as we got there and tried to demonstrate to her how to climb them, but she would have nothing to do with them. When I went to bed that night, I left Sophie downstairs. I was afraid that if I took her to bed with me, she might jump down in the middle of the night to go exploring and fall down the stairs or something. When I woke up in the morning, guess who was waiting for me at the top of the stairs? Sophie. She couldn’t stand to be downstairs while I was upstairs, so she decided she was going to figure out those stairs. She spent almost the entire next day going up and down the stairs; she thought it was a blast!

When my husband and I moved into our new house that has stairs, we decided we needed to get a baby gate so we wouldn’t have to worry about Sophie getting hurt on the stairs. Though she can climb them, she sometimes has tumbles and has actually had a couple of scary ones. The baby gate worked for about two weeks. I came out of the bedroom one day, and guess who was at the top of the stairs? Sophie. She had figured out how to climb the baby gate. So we got a different kind of gate–a fancy one that is taller and doesn’t have any horizontal parts that she would be able to climb. This one has lasted about three months. I haven’t quite figured out how she is getting over this one, as I haven’t seen her do it yet. I think she may be squeezing through the spindles, which is impressive because the spindles are pretty close together. I think next we are going to have to build a wall! MOL!

What do you need to do for Sophie that’s different than how you take care of your other cats?

Sophie doesn’t really require too much special care. We did make a special litter box for her because she has trouble keeping her balance while using the box. She would often fall over and make big messes, so we got a big Rubbermaid plastic bin and cut a hole in the side. She is able to lean against the high walls when she uses the box, which has cut down on her mess-making considerably. We also abide by the “four-on-the-floor” rule, which I read about on the “Life with CH Cats” blog. It is simply a suggestion to always make sure all four of a Sophie’s feet are on the ground when setting her down. She needs to be firmly planted on the ground before letting go, or she will most likely fall.

What does Sophie bring your family?

Sophie brings an immeasurable amount of joy, love, and inspiration to our family. Her personality is infectious; you can’t be around her without smiling, as she always seems to have a smile on her face. She also LOVES to cuddle. She would be happy to spend the entire day curled up with me or my husband on the couch, purring the entire time. She is the cure to any bad mood.

Sophie is also an inspiration. In the year and a half that we have had her, she has overcome so many obstacles and learned to do so many things that most cats can just do. She has never once gotten discouraged or upset, and she always accomplishes her goal. Sophie is a perfect example that with a smile and determination, you can accomplish anything you put your mind to.

What would you tell someone whose cat has a similar issue as your cat or who is considering adopting a cat with CH?

Be patient. When we first adopted Sophie, I often felt overwhelmed. I will admit that I even had thoughts like, “What have I gotten myself into?” There was definitely an adjustment period in which my husband and I had to figure out the different ways we needed to help Sophie and keep her from getting hurt. But after we got over those initial hurdles, it has been nothing but smooth sailing. And what a wonderful ride it has been! Sophie has been such a blessing to our family.

Anything else you’d like my readers to know?

Adopting a special needs animal comes with it’s challenges, but it is one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had. Getting to watch Sophie overcome all the of the obstacles she has faced has been amazing.

One of those obstacles was our bed. For the longest time, she couldn’t jump up onto it. If we weren’t there to pick her up, she would climb it, but sometimes she would fall. Every now and then she would attempt to jump, but she never quite made it. One night, she just went for it. She jumped and made it! The look on her face–I can’t even describe it. She was surprised and excited, and she looked up at me with a look that spoke volumes:”Mom! I did it!”

Getting to celebrate those victories with Sophie is something that I wouldn’t trade for the world. I would encourage any animal-lover to consider adopting a special needs pet. You won’t regret it.

2 Comments on "Interview with Emily Hall about her CH cat Sophie"

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  1. Kitties Blue says:

    Thanks for interviewing Emily and posting about Sophie. She is quite an amazing cat, and now there are five cats in the family adding even additional challenges. We love efurrybuddy and Kitty Cat Chronicles. Hope more people read your interview. XO, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Jo

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