Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror

VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

If all this COVID-19 pandemic, presidential impeachment and congressional riot stuff is getting you down, Donna Goodenough has an idea for injecting some positivity into your life.

The owner of Campbell River’s Kalmar Cat Hotel suggests adopting a cat with a disability. That’s what she’s done and the experience has been overwhelmingly positive.

“All my cats are special needs and I know from experience, they give love in a different way,” Goodenough said. “And it’s very rewarding. And I would love for people to search their heart and see if they don’t have a little extra love for the special needs cats that probably no one else would want.”

Two kittens that Goodenough recently adopted suffer from cerebellar hypoplasia, also known as wobbly cats syndrome, a neurological disorder resulting from interrupted development of the brain leading to uncoordinated movement. The symptoms include problems walking, running, jumping or even locating items around them and the severity can vary widely.

“Their mind cannot control any of these wild movements that they make,” Goodenough said. “They’re just a rodeo!”

When Goodenough calls her cats Poppy and Lilly to their food bowls the two seven-month-old kittens come a-running just like any kitten. But, sadly, their condition makes the mad dash to the bowl a jumble of paws and legs flailing in uncoordinated jerks, stumbles and crashes. It’s amusing and their enthusiasm is cute but it’s a little bit sad too.

Story continues below video…

With the cats that Goodenough has adopted with their condition, on a scale of 1-10, one of them is a two or three while the other is a nine, Goodenough said.

So, when they’re called to dinner, it’s “all bets are off,” Goodenough said. “Stand back! The bulls have been let out of the corral,” she says drawing allusions to the scene in Pamplona, Spain with the Running of the Bulls.

Usually, when kittens are born with this condition they’re often put down or abandoned but Goodenough wants people to look beyond their disability. She said her vet did express to her his concerns about their condition.

‘He asked me if I thought she had a good quality of life,” Goodenough said. And I gotta tell you…I think they do. You should see these girls play! Oh my goodness, give them a toy and they just go bananas!”

The cats are born with their condition and have never known anything different. Goodenough agrees that if they had suffered an injury like a broken back or something that would cripple them for the rest of their life, that would perhaps be different.

“That would be something that I would have to consider further,” Goodenough said. “But I can tell you for a fact, they’re happy. And they’re not in pain, except when they fall down and bang their head. Poppy does a lot.”

But Goodenough has other disabled cats, in fact, she has another cat that has the same condition that she got prior to the two new kittens. Goodenough grades, Zoe, the older cat’s condition at a two or three.

Goodenough runs the Kalmar Cat Hotel in which she boards cats but she also has six cats of her own. She put the word out that she is willing to adopt disabled cats.

RELATED: Hotel for cats in Campbell River holding open house on Sunday

“I have been asking all my friends if they hear about any kind of a disability, I will take that cat. I just had the urge for another disabled. I have a soft spot for the ones that might be overlooked at adoption times,” she said. “In my opinion, they give so much more than a happy cat, you know, that’s just fine in every way. These need a little help. And it just enriches my life.”

Poppy and Lilly were acquired from a rescue organization in Victoria, Broken Promises Rescue. Goodenough had put the call out for special needs cats and a girlfriend in Mill Bay put her in touch with Pamela Saddler at Broken Promises.

She was thrilled to know that Goodenough already had experience with CH (cerebellar hypoplasia) cats because nobody had wanted to take these cats. Because Goodenough doesn’t drive, Saddler delivered the cat to her door. Goodenough has had them for two months now and she says they are doing well.

The biggest change Goodenough had to do to her house to accommodate the new arrivals was to their potty area. Because they are unable to get into a litter box – “they’ll just fall out” – she uses a plastic liner that usually goes in the bottom of a dog crate and puts newspaper on it. The cats have been trained to go on newspaper, jut like a puppy, and there are “pee pads” on top of the newspaper and then more newspaper. She needs a lot of newspaper and gets a lot of it donated by the Campbell River Mirror.

“They know to go there and for the most part, they can make it there. They will fall down and if I can get to them in time, I’ll hold them. So they don’t fall down in the pee.”

So, obviously bathroom time is when the real commitment to the cats comes into play.

“Poppy’s real good and she’s pretty easy, although she will fall over backwards. It’s something she can’t help and Lilly, on the other hand, if I hear her going stepping on the papers, I will run in and grab her because she just has no control.”

But Goodenough, whose whole life is dedicated to cats, and has organized her house again to accommodate the newcomers, she would have it no other way.

“They’re both just adorable,” she said.

So, if you’re looking for something to lift you out of the doldrums, consider giving an animal with a disability a home. Donna Goodenough can testify to the satisfaction it will bring you.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

RELATED: Three kittens found zipped in freezer bag abandoned at BC SPCA branch


@AlstrT
editor@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
43 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

368 cases in the region remain active

Midway’s Boundary Expo Recreation Centre (above) is a mainstay of the local community and the Boundary area more broadly, according to Village officials. Photo: Submitted
West Boundary arena to get equipment overhaul thanks to provincial grant

The funds are being put toward new refrigeration equipment at Midway’s Boundary Expo Rec. Centre

A member of the Avalanche Canada South Rockies field team gathers important snowpack data that is used to produce daily avalanche forecasts for the region. Photo by Jennifer Coulter.
Warming temperatures increase avalanche risk heading into the weekend

Warm temperatures impact conditions, human behaviour

The City of Grand Forks is named as a defendant in a lawsuit by former Grand Forks Fire/Rescue volunteer, Leslie Cleverly. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
City of Grand Forks responds to lawsuit by former city firefighter

The City’s lawyers roundly denied allegations made by the plaintiff, Leslie Cleverly

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Interior Health reports 16 new COVID-19 cases

423 cases remain active in the region

Third-grader Hudson Adrian (left) on Wednesday, Feb. 24, poses with fourth-graders Josh Hlookoff (centre) and Jaylen Dekteroff at Hutton Elementary’s Pink Shirt Day parade. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
WATCH — Grand Forks’ elementaries support Pink Shirt Day

The annual celebration of kindness puts paid to the idea that bullying was ever cool

The City of Vancouver estimates there are 3,500 Canada geese in the city right now, and that number is growing. (Bruce Hogarth)
Help tame Vancouver’s Canada goose population by reporting nests: park officials

The city is asking residents to be on the lookout so staff can remove nests or addle eggs

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Federal panel recommends 4-month gap between COVID vaccine doses due to limited supply

The recommendation applies to all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved in Canada

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Trudeau ‘optimistic’ that timeline for rollout of COVID vaccines can be accelerated

Canada set to receive more than 6M COVID-19 vaccine dose than initially expected, by end of March

Beginning late Tuesday, anti-pipeline protesters blocked the intersection of Hastings Street and Clark Drive in Vancouver. (Instagram/Braidedwarriors)
Demonstrators block key access to Vancouver port over jail for pipeline protester

They group is protesting a 90-day jail sentence handed to a fellow anti-pipeline protester

Most Read