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Meet Willy Wonky, The Adorable Wobbly Cat Who Is Going To Steal Your Heart!

Mandy Morris was working at a rescue in Kansas City, Missouri, when she noticed a black special needs kitten at the organization was having trouble finding a forever home. “He was with another foster at the time,” remembers Mandy. “I kept seeing posts about him and noticed he was having a hard time getting any adoption interest.”

black rescue cat with cerebellar hypoplasia
Via @iamwillywonky on Instagram

She knew it was most likely because of the color of his fur, as black cats often have difficulty finding homes, and because he was born with cerebellar hypoplasia (CH), a non-progressive neurological condition that affects balance and coordination. CH occurs in utero, usually when a pregnant cat is exposed to a virus, such as feline panleukopenia, causing her kittens to be born with underdeveloped cerebellums. “The cerebellum is responsible for motor skills and coordination, so — as you can imagine — if it’s undeveloped, it causes them to wobble,” explains Mandy. “Luckily, it does not cause any pain or dizziness and they can live a long, normal life.”

Confident she would be able to give the adorable special needs kitten a great life, Mandy adopted him on November 3, 2020, when he was approximately three months old. “I have always wanted to open my home and heart to a special needs animal,” says Mandy, “and I knew it was time.”

In addition to a home, Mandy knew she had to give the kitten a new name. While she wanted to choose one that was a reference to his adorably different gait, she also wanted to pick something unique. “I have heard of a million Wiggles, Wobbles, all that,” explains Mandy. “Something just made me say Wonky and then I screamed out Willy Wonky!”

black rescue cat with cerebellar hypoplasia
Via @iamwillywonky on Instagram

As Willy Wonky adjusted to his new home, Mandy helped make the transition easier by learning to accommodate his special needs. Because cerebellar hypoplasia ranges from mild to severe, some CH cats don’t need any special accommodations, while other wobbly kitties need a little more assistance when it comes to eating, drinking, and using the litter box. “Willy is on the more severe side, so we had to find ways to make his day-to-day life more accessible and safe,” says Mandy. “[For] example, he goes potty on his side, so I got him an extra-large cat box that’s low to the ground so he can get himself in and out.”

black rescue cat with cerebellar hypoplasia
Via @iamwillywonky on Instagram

However, aside from this relatively minor adjustment, Willy doesn’t need a lot of special accommodations. In fact, while he might not move like the average feline, this handsome boy is actually a pretty typical cat who loves napping and playing. “We have play areas set up for him so he can wiggle around safely,” says Mandy. “He loves tunnels, empty boxes, and beating up his siblings.”

While it’s obvious Willy is a very happy and active young cat, Mandy has found some people mistakenly assume he must be in pain, which he definitely isn’t. She’s also encountered individuals who believe CH cats can’t have good lives simply because they don’t move like other felines, which Mandy insists isn’t true. “It’s completely the opposite of that,” says Mandy. “They have no idea they are different and as long as they are given the tools to thrive, they can be some of the happiest cats you’ll ever meet.”

Even though it took a little while for Mandy to figure out how to help Willy live his best life, today he’s thriving, and she hopes sharing his story will encourage others to consider adopting pets with special needs. After all, Mandy — who has encountered countless dogs and cats while working at a rescue — believes they are some of the smartest, funniest, and most affectionate animals she’s ever met. “Willy literally makes me smile every day and I am always so amazed at how smart he is!” says Mandy. “He doesn’t let his disability slow him down and he is one of the sassiest, clever, and brilliant animals I have ever had.”

When Mandy decided to adopt Willy back in November 2020, her main goal was to provide a home to a cat who kept getting overlooked. However, she had no idea how much this special boy would improve the quality of her life, and now Mandy’s focus is to repay Willy for everything he’s done for her. “I want to spend our days together making him as happy as he makes me,” says Mandy. “He’s my world.”

black rescue cat with cerebellar hypoplasia
Via @iamwillywonky on Instagram

To learn more about this handsome cat, you can follow Willy Wonky on Instagram.

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