Where Every Cat Matters and Every Cat has a Story
Friends of Felines Rescue Center, Defiance, OH 43512

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Derecho--Endless Possibilities

Sometimes new viewers come on to chat and express sadness or pity for a cat they see on screen.  But if you ask the cat should they be pitied they would probably just tilt their head and look at you with that look we’ve all seen; “Are you crazy?”

Cats have the amazing ability to be a cat, no matter their circumstances.

We see Asha hopping along, seeking a shoulder to hug or Bella scooting with intent, seeking a jar of baby food.  We see Filbert, seeing just fine, thank you, as he makes his way through the wave of kittens playing before him.  We see Cutie, determined that she will get where she wants because she always does.

None of these cats pity themselves, they simply act like the cats they are and do what they want, on their terms.

And we have another favorite who shouldn’t be pitied, because he too just wants to be a cat, or in his case a kitten.  He loves to play with his friends, loves to play with his toys, he just simply loves to play and he loves to be loved.  That part is easy, so very easy.

His name is Derecho.  He was named for the big storm that hit Defiance in July. He was brought in on July 4th.  He was born 5/16/2012 to an outside cat. There was something very “different” about him.  Jacci has had cats like him before, but has never seen his symptoms in someone so young.  All of his symptoms pointed to the diagnosis of cerebellar hypoplasia, commonly called CH.

With this condition, the most common cause appears to be genetic. The condition occurs when a pregnant cat becomes infected with panleukopenia, also known as distemper, which can  lead to an undeveloped cerebellum in kittens. Not all kittens are affected. 

The cerebellum is the portion of the brain responsible for fine motor control. Although cerebellar hypoplasia normally does not worse in severity as a kitten matures, the damage is permanent

Characteristic symptoms are poor coordination, gait abnormalities and perception difficulties.  Affected cats are wobbly while walking and suffer from various degrees of head tremors, thus appearing almost clumsy.

In addition, cats with this condition often behave nervously or act unsure of themselves when facing new situations.

The signs are generally not progressive.

Although no known treatment or cure exists for CH, people say that love, patience and understanding can go a long way in ensuring that these special cats enjoy long, happy lives.  Providing the cat with lots of love is not a problem at FFRC.  It is also important to let Derecho be a cat, not too much babying.  It’s important he feels confident so he needs to walk and move around, even if it may be hard sometimes to watch as he stumbles, he gets right back up and continues on his way.

As he gets older and stronger, his confidence will and has grown.  As he has become more accustomed to his surroundings, he has become more active and more confident with every step he takes.  His “flap jacket” helps to stabilize him and makes it easier to pick him up as he can be very squirmy, just like any other kitten.

He is not to be pitied, he doesn’t pity himself and neither do any of his other cat friends.  As Derecho has learned that this is his home, he has shown more confidence and he plays just like all the other kittens.

So when new viewers come on and express pity or sadness at  Derecho, remind them that he is happy, just different.

And let them know what Jacci recently whispered in Derecho’s ear. “You’re home and you’re not going anywhere”.  Once he heard this, he gave a big sigh of relief because this is the place he knows to be home and this is the place he will always know to be home.

Derecho joins his fellow center residents:  Ada Jane, Magenta, Bella, Putter, Emaline, Asha, Cutie, Paddy Cakes, Paddy Purrs and Bondi in being able to say:

 “FFRC is my home and I get to be loved and kept safe for the rest of my life.”

 Welcome home Derecho, we are so happy that you found us and we found you.

Your life will be filled with pages and pages of stories of perserverance, of challenges for sure, but will also be filled with love, every step of the way.

We are so happy that you found us and we found you and we all want the same thing for you:  To always know love.

And know this Derecho, you always have Angels here on Earth, right beside you.