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 that will inject 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.

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

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

Sean Smyth is expected to be announced the winner of the municipal by-election for city council today. Photo provided
Sean Smyth to replace Babchuk on council

Sean Smyth is expected to be named the winner of the 2021… Continue reading

Options for separated bike lanes throughout the city will be considered during the Master Transportation Plan review, not on a case-by-case basis before that, based on a decision made at the last council meeting in regards to improvements on Hilchey Road. Black Press File Photo
Campbell River City Council refers Hilchey bike lane to transportation plan review

Mayor calls spending $4.75 million on a bike lane ‘out of touch’ with city’s current economic reality

Piano and music.
Rotary Honours Concert goes virtual for 2021

The show must go on. But this year the free “gift to… Continue reading

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation, May 8, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C.’s weekend COVID-19 cases: 532 Saturday, 508 Sunday, 438 Monday

Fraser Health still has most, eight more coronavirus deaths

B.C. Attorney General David Eby speaks in the legislature, Dec. 7, 2020. Eby was given responsibility for housing after the October 2020 provincial election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends COVID-19 rent freeze again, to the end of 2021

‘Renoviction’ rules tightened, rent capped to inflation in 2022

Face mask hangs from a rear-view mirror. (Black Press image)
B.C. CDC unveils guide on how to carpool during the pandemic

Wearing masks, keeping windows open key to slowing the spread of COVID-19

Churches, including Langley’s Riverside Calvary Church, are challenging the regulations barring them from holding in-person worship services during COVID-19. (Langley Advance Times file)
Det. Sgt. Jim Callender. (Hamilton Police Service screenshot)
B.C. man dead, woman seriously injured after shooting in Hamilton, Ont.

The man was in the process of moving to the greater Toronto area, police say

Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hills using a homemade trip camera. Vancouver Island is home to approximately 800 cougars, which makes up about a quarter of the total population in B.C. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hill using a homemade trip camera. Schroyen presents Animal Signs: The Essence of Animal Communication on Nov. 30. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Declining Vancouver Island cougar populations linked to wolves

Large carnivore specialist says human development still plays biggest role on cougar numbers

Most Read