<$cats, rats, pets, advice$>

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Dark Cloud

I feel like my little animal kingdom is living under a dark cloud that just won't go away. David called me at work just now to say that the baby hummingbirds are gone. Something, probably a crow or hawk, must have gotten them because I don't think a cat or other large mammal could have reached them, and they're way too young to get out of the nest on their own. Momma hummer is still coming to the nest, looking for her babies.

Momma hummer was building her nest about the time I realized that Elsinore would die soon. Knowing that new life would be coming to our patio gave me something to look forward to. I feel very sad now.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Catching Up

Lots of changes at Catz 'n' Ratz recently. My eldest kitty, Elsinore, died on May 16. Even though I knew this was coming, it was still pretty hard. I miss her a lot. Like some elderly people who have Alzheimer's, Elsinore's unique personality and traits that made her "Elsinore" had pretty much faded away. She no longer got talkative when I got on the phone, hadn't walked on a leash in several years, didn't "happy crap" anymore, etc. I think this made it a bit easier for me to let her go and accept her death. When Armand died in January, he still looked and acted like the Armand of old. Nothing had changed, which I think made his death (from cancer) a huge shock for me. I don't think I've fully come to terms with it yet.

The 2nd batch of hummingbird babies hatched last week and are growing quickly. David is already making plans for his second video. The first video has, so far, been viewed more than 25,000 times on YouTube, and several school teachers have e-mailed him, asking if they could have copies to show to their classes.

Sally Salome Ratty Rat has fully recovered from her Myco flare up. Thank goodness!

Simone McSkitterson was spayed last week, and you'd never know she'd had her belly opened up from the way she's flying around the house and tormenting Dougie (as usual!).

Friday, May 11, 2007

Newest Catz 'n' Ratz Member

I was refilling the water jug in the aquatics department last weekend at Petco during my bi-weekly cat visit (I'm a Rescue House volunteer) when I saw him. Reddish-blue body, white and blue flowing tail..."My, what a pretty boy!" I thought. After my cat care shift, what do I do but grab my purse and the fish and head for the cash register. I couldn't resist. His name is, appropriately, Pretty Boy. (He's lurking on the right side of the bowl near the top of the stone arch.)

We've had a freshwater aquarium for around five years now. We've had bettas before, too, but not for several years. I had even Goodwilled my two betta bowls, so I headed to Wal-Mart where I found this oversized plastic margarita glass that works perfectly and cost less than $6. I cover his bowl with cheesecloth, because bettas can be jumpers.

Pretty Boy lives on top of a pantry cabinet in the kitchen where I keep a cookie jar, boxes of tea, various doodads, and this happy-looking yellow cat...in other words, my important things! Here, he's away from direct sun and the clutches of MacDougall and Simone McSkitterson. It's nice having a pretty betta keep me company when I cook, though I admit I feel a little funny when he's watching me cook salmon or trout!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Lightening Does Strike Twice

What are the odds of this: another hummingbird is building its nest on our patio! It's only been about three weeks since the last hummer and her young'uns vacated the wax plant, and now another momma-hummer-to-be is busily nest building in the same hanging plant, only higher up. Word must have gotten out on the hummingbird grapevine that our covered patio makes a great nursery. Judging from our last guest, her nest is about half built, and we should have eggs sometime next week.

Well, I got some gardening done and planted some herbs, and we had one barbecue before the current feathery resident moved in. Now it's back to watering and dead-leaf plucking between her trips to the nest. You haven't been scolded until you've been scolded by a hummingbird for getting too close to her nest!

David has named this momma hummer Eleanor (the last one was Elizabeth). David is in the process of rigging up the Web cam again, so the photo on the right shows some strange ropes and stuff hanging off the plant hook. He's hoping to catch some of her nest-building activity and the eggs hatching this time.

Eleanor is registered at Hummer Babies 'R' Us if anyone is interested in sending a baby gift. :)

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Rat Doctoring

I haven't posted for several days now because I've been doctoring a sick rat. Sally Salome Rattie Rat has mycoplasma, which is a common respiratory disease in rats. She's been wheezy and lethargic, with porphyrin discharge from her right eye, and feeling all-around crappy. I've been treating her with liquid Baytril and liquid Vibramycin (doxycycline). It's been touch and go, but she seems better today. I've also given her some dark chocolate, which can help rats with breathing difficulties. Chocolate contains Theophylline, which is known to help breathing troubles decrease in patients with asthma. (See, there's another legitimate reason to keep dark chocolate around the house!)

If you have rats or you're thinking of having rats as pets, I recommend reading about the illnesses that affect them. Sooner is way, way better when it comes to treating your rat's illness, so if you're aware of what symptoms to look for, you can get a head start on helping your buddy. Hours can make a difference. If you can, keep a supply of tetracycline, Baytril, and doxycycline on hand (this can be ordered without a prescription from Jedds, a pigeon/bird supply company...no fooling. They've got the stuff.) I also recommend the following Web sites for learning about rat illnesses and how to treat them:


If possible, take your sick rat to a veterinarian with experience treating rodents.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Catz 'n' Ratz Product Endorsement

Elsinore turned 19 years old sometime during the first week of April. Due to her heart problem (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy), the after effects of her systemic infection, and old age, she goes through some incontinent spells. When one of us isn't here to supervise, she stays in a large dog kennel complete with food, water, bed, and litter box so that she doesn't foul the carpet.

She's had a bad spell this week, and tonight I'm doing her "laundry" (i.e., bedding) for the second time this week. Anyone who has had a cat pee or poop on fabric knows how hard it is to get the smell out...laundry detergent alone doesn't do the trick.

Years ago, I had a landlady who was caring for her elderly mother who suffered incontinence. My landlady, too, washed a lot of bed sheets, and fortunately I remembered her telling me that she added a capful of Lysol Concentrate to each load. It disinfects and really, REALLY eliminates poop odors. This product has been a lifesaver for me during the last six months or so. I highly recommend it to anyone taking care of an incontinent loved one, be it human or animal.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Hummingbird Video

David created this lovely video of the hummingbirds from "egg" to take off. Enjoy!