Rescue centre for 'wobbly cats' calls for more people to consider adopting them

A woman who rescues disabled and elderly cats wants more people to consider adopting them.

Holly Brockwell runs the Holly's Merry Moggies cat shelter for unwanted felines at her home in Ruddington, Nottinghamshire.

Many of the cats she looks after have cerebellar hypoplasia, also known as wobbly cat syndrome, which is a neurological condition caused by infection before birth.

Holly currently has 27 cats in her care, with a variety of ailments including hypothyroidism, missing or no eyes, and cerebellar hypoplasia.

She says she has the 'wobbly cats' because many shelters won't take them in, so they end up being put down.

  • What is cerebellar hypoplasia?

According to PetMD, cerebellar hypoplasia is a condition where a kitten's brain does not finish developing before it is born, due to a viral infection in the mother cat.

It is usually when the mother has not been vaccinated and has been exposed to feline panleukopenia virus during pregnancy.

The severity of the symptoms depends on how developed the kitten is at the time the mother is infected.

Cats with the condition experience problems with movement and mobility. So they can appear to wobble or sway when walking, with uncoordinated movements. They may have an abnormal gait, tremor, and struggle to move between sitting and standing.

The condition is permanent but can improve as the cat gets older.

It is not contagious, so if a healthy cat is exposed to a cat with cerebellar hypoplasia, it is not at risk for developing any symptoms.

Holly says she has a number of cats with the condition, with mostly mild symptoms.

She says; "They just wobble basically! There's a spectrum of severity - some of them are only slightly wobbly, just when they're thinking about something, or when they're eating. Some of them are really bad. We don't have any here that are at the extreme end of the spectrum.

"They wobble about all of the place! It doesn't cause them any pain. They actually get better as they get older, so quite often we get kittens in that vets have wanted to put down because there's an old fashioned view that they don't have a quality of life, which I think it based on only seeing them as kittens when they're weak and don't really know what they're doing anyway.

"Then they get stronger and bigger and they learn how to get around and they have amazing ways of doing everything - they do things completely in their own way.

"I've got one that just loved to boing off things - he will just go up high and then just jump! He just appears on the sofa like he's got springs in his feet!

"They completely adapt. I think it's a shame that a lot of the vets who see them and want to put them down at birth don't get to see them later in life, having a happy life.

"That's what we're trying to do as a shelter - it's to show these cats can have a great life and they can be pets to quite a few people - especially the milder ones.

"Because as long as you've got carpet, and not hard floors, and they're not going outside, they can be really happy. They just wobble around and fall over a bit a do their own thing.

"They're absolutely lovely, they're some of the best cats I've ever had."

Holly tried to re-home cats where she can, but some have found a permanent home with her. Others are sent out to foster homes.

The cat rescue centre isn't her first time looking after poorly animals - Holly used to run a bird rescue too.

But she was inspired to create a cat shelter after adopting an elderly cat called Maud. After seeing the difference that love, care and affection gave to Maud in the final months of her life, Holly decided to open Holly's Merry Moggies.

Her house has a range of litter trays, food bowls and water fountains that are placed at different heights so all the cats can reach them despite their conditions.