We learned of eight month old Sheldon the Special Needs Kitten today when a set of newly uploaded photos of the young special needs cat’s first acupuncture treatment caught our eye. Sheldon was born unable to walk. He was first thought to be a CH (Cerebellar Hypoplasia) kitty, but a veterinarian identified his condition as severe Manx syndrome, with Hydrocephalus (water on the brain). Sheldon moves and plays but cannot stand or walk. He is showing improvement as he grows, and may be helped by the acupuncture.
Our first thought was to share the acupuncture photos, because of the way the good, clear closeup shots illustrate the procedure. After following the photos to Sheldon’s Facebook page, we learned more, and share his story here.
Sheldon was entrusted to AC Paw animal rescue, of Acme, Michigan as a tiny kitten earlier this year. AC Paw asked for a foster caregiver to take him, saying “This is Itzie. He is a very sweet 8 week old kitten that we are hoping to help find a home for. Itzie has cerebella hyploplasia, a neurological disorder that affects his balance and walking. He basically drags his back legs and rolls to get places. He is in no pain and can lead a good life. He deserves a chance at a wonderful life.”
Fife Lake resident Misty Avery has experience with CH kitties, so offered to take Itzie, who she renamed Sheldon. When a vet check determined that his condition and needs were different and more extensive than those of a CH kitty, she agreed to take him nonetheless. Mary’s work and lifestyle allow her to take him with her when she goes out and tend to him throughout the day.
Videos with Sheldon show him as responsive and playful, and interacting normally with his kitty companions.
Mary tells Sheldon’s story in her FAQ on him:
When was Sheldon born?
March 13, 2012
Where did the name come from?
He is named for Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory, my favorite show. They both were lanky and awkward. His middle name is Orion. I like astrological/nature names, so I thought it fitting. Some of my other cats names are Starr and Selena (little moon).
How did Sheldon come into your life?
A group I work with, AC PAW, had a posting looking for a foster for him. The woman who had him thought he had Cerebral Hypoplasia. I have a cat with CH already, so I was familiar with the condition and was going to evaluate him for a potential adopter. The day the rescue volunteer picked him and took him to the vet, she was told it was not CH, but Hydrocephalus (water on the brain). She asked if I would take him on anyway, and I agreed.
What makes Sheldon a special needs kitten (what’s his condition)?
Sheldon has Manx Syndrome as well as Hydrocephalus. His mother was a Manx (tailless cat). He was also born with out a tail, and possibly missing a vertebrae in his back. Manx have differently built legs already. His are extra long and don’t bend in the same areas like a normal cat.
Having Manx Syndrome, he was more likely to have other health issues, including the Hydrocephalus. When he was very small the water on the brain was very noticeable visually. Over the months I’ve had him, the swelling on his head has gotten noticeably smaller. The rescue and myself are unable to afford the $1000 for the MRI to confirm Hydrocephalus 100% or the $1500 for the surgery to reduce the swelling. Since he is not in pain and the swelling seems to be reducing with age, we are not concerned with these procedures right now.
Will he need continuous care throughout his life? (meds/rehab, etc)
Currently, he can’t walk, but he does try. I work on exercising his legs to build muscle and playing to encourage him to work on his coordination. We aren’t sure exactly which is causing him not to be able to walk. He does seem to improve his coordination with age. I have another kitten, Xara, slightly younger than him and she plays with him, which encourages exercise and improving coordination. He also has a walker to help build muscles.
He is also bladder and fecal incontinent, a side effect of the Manx Syndrome. He has “stud pants” (diaper) donated by the lovely ladies at Granny Nanny’s Hearts and Crafts. These are lined with half a bladder control pad and changed every few hours. I manually empty his bladder during changes to help cut down on accidents. He doesn’t poo in the diaper, but its very easy clean-up. I have a diaper bag to carry all his supplies in, including baby wipes to clean him up. Potty pads are used for easy clean-up of accidents.
He goes with me wherever I go, unless I’ll only be gone for a short time, since he requires the pads changed and help being set up at the food and water bowls. I am a groomer, so I bring his little baby travel bed and he stays there while I’m working. He also sleeps in that next to me on the bed for easy access in the middle of the night.
He isn’t on any types of medications, but is on a multivitamin powder supplement to help improve overall health. He has had one bladder infection, a problem associated him not being to empty his bladder on his own.
Does he live with any other cats or is he kept away from other animals?
I have 11 other cats of my own and 3 dogs. All do fine with him. His favorite friend is his adopted sister, Xara. One of my younger cats likes to play babysitter and keep an eye on him when I am out of the room.
Here are photos showing Sheldon having his first acupuncture treatment and resting afterward.
Were you always involved with animals?
I have been an animal lover all my life. I got involved with an animal group in high school and really got heavily involved after helping with a hoarding case involving huskies and poodles.
I have been involved with various rescue groups and shelters ever since. My friend and I have even started our own rescue for special needs and senior pets. Frisco and Joey’s Mission was named in memory of my senior Chow mix, Frisco and her rescued yellow lab, Joey. I have always had a special place in my heart for the overlooked pets, especially after adopting my CH kitty, Starr and Cash, a special needs English Setter.
Is there a way for someone to donate to his medical expenses?
Donations can be sent via Paypal to Misty Avery, email address is [email protected]. Please include the tag of Sheldon.
Is there a place people can send snail mail to Sheldon?
Snail Mail can be sent to my address below.
10759 Grand Kal Rd SW
Fife Lake, MI 49633
For more, and to follow and support his journey, you can “Like” his Sheldon the Special Needs Kitten Facebook page.