Cat Of the Week – Pickles – November 9th, 2020

Pickles was born at her home in 2007. Her mother was feral, not in the best health, and living on a rural property. Mama had a six-week old litter following her and was pregnant again, so the family caught them and brought them indoors before the next litter was born.

When the new litter arrived, it was obvious that something wasn't quite normal with one kitten. Four kittens snuggled up and began nursing, but the 5th one just wiggled about. She never was able to stop moving long enough to latch on and nurse unless her family held her.

She was quickly given the loving nick name "Mr Dale Earnhardt Jr Pickle" (called Pickle or Pickles) because she spent a lot of time turning in circles. Of course she was too dear to her family to give away; so they kept her and a sister 4 months older from the previous litter. 

Her vet wasn't sure what was "wrong" with her, but assured her family she was healthy, movement issues or not. She's seen several vets since, and the diagnosis is either Cerebellar Hypoplasia (CH) or Cerebellar Abiotrophy (CA), which are neurological disorders with similar symptoms.

To be certain of CH, her family would have to sedate Pickles for brain scans, which they've declined as it won't make any difference in her treatment. Both disorders require care, not medication, and she has plenty of that at home!

As she grew, Pickles exhibited many strange, sometimes repetitive behaviors: freezing in one position for 30-40 seconds, getting "stuck" in corners, walking in circles, standing/walking on her back feet, bobbing her head, waving her front paws, all of which are pretty harmless. 

Other behaviors were more harmful, like licking all the fur off a front leg overnight, or bumping her head over and over until she had a knot on her head. The head-bumping was so frequent when Pickles was young that her family made a little helmet for her to keep her safe! Look at that beautiful craftsmanship, I wish I had half the talent.

Some of her quirks are just odd, like, she can walk in a straight line, but if her front paws get crossed, she's stuck like that until someone gives her a nudge. She cannot uncross them by herself. 

Occasionally, she'll make a wild leap, crazy-high in the air, for no reason her family can see. Cats, right? Pickles has amazing balance and she's spent long hours practicing her ability to balance on things like the wooden crossbar of a barstool--on only two feet--until she masters it. 

Pickles LOVES to play, and will chase just about anything her family offers. She also loves to *be* chased, and has a little game where she runs back and forth across a room, in front of the other family cats, hoping one of them will chase her.

At 13, Pickles has not so much outgrown the damaging repetitive behavior, but has less energy and spends most of her time sitting in laps or napping in her bed.  She still loves to play, but doesn't get as wound up and over-stimulated as she used to.

She's gained more control over the years and can wash her paws and face more easily, but that's about as much grooming as she can do, her family helps with the rest (like brushing). She was unable to groom herself as a kitten, so this is a huge change for the better!

Her family has learned more about what works for her over time. For example she's much better at picking her food up when she can see each piece on the kitchen floor instead of in a dish. Together, the family has made a lot of progress, but there are some things Pickles will never be able to do.

That's alright with her family though because Pickles has a home full of people standing by, ready to help her with anything she needs. They feel she's been a great gift, and has helped all of them grow and become better people.

Raising Pickles as their sons were growing up was invaluable, and helped them teach their sons about the importance of love, compassion, and perseverance. They simply can't imagine their lives without her!

We at StuffCatsWant also thank Xa for submitting Pickles as Cat Of the Week and including such a heart warming story of such a wonderful cat!!

Please submit your cat as cat of the week by emailing with 5 pictures of your cat(s) and a short description of him or her or them! is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

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