One of my shelter ferrets who came to me this summer is Molly, turns out Molly is a boy! His previous mom was told he was a girl and so for 6 years she thought she had “a big girl”. When I pointed out the “belly button” which only boys have she was speechless. Now Molly know his name very well and will come running so Molly keeps his name. Molly was very bonded to his first mom. She had been allowed to take him to school with her every day and he even slept with her. It broke her heart to bring him to me but she had not been able to find pet friendly housing in Saskatoon where she was heading for university.
I was very worried that I would loose Molly to a broken heart once he realized his mommy wasn’t coming back. I set up a small cage and placed it by my bedside. I put my well worn and smelly nightie in his hammock. I wanted him to bond with me and my smell. The first week was up and down. It was obvious that he was pinning for her but slowly he came out of his funk and started playing.
I tried over and over to introduce Molly to other furries hoping a playmate would give him some needed company. He went from running in fear to simply avoiding the other mild ferrets but he didn’t connect with anyone. Eventually Molly was doing so well that he moved into the main shelter room so that he could continue to be immersed in the other ferrets smells. His cage was right by the door entrance and he could see me coming and going down the hallway.
On Thursday Ivan and Loki arrived at the shelter. These two 5 year old boys put me at capacity and I was wondering who to move them in with. I often get the cage donated with the surrendered ferret(s) but it’s not the lack of cages but the lack of space to put them. Lots of donated cages are sold to help with the costs of food, litter and medical care. Ivan and Loki came in with a Ferret Nation cage which is the cadillac of ferret cages. I want to eventually have all Ferret Nation cages as they are so easy to clean. To set up the Ferret Nation cage I had to do some moving around and retire the last of the Midwest cages currently in use.
The long and the short of it I moved Molly into a different cage and moved it out of the shelter room to accommodate the Ferret Nation cage. Molly moved into another room. All seemed fine. The new boys settle in, met Napoleon and Indie and became instant friends. Great, love when that happens because in reality older ferrets are set in their ways and often don’t want any new friends.
Molly seemed fine in the different cage. Friday was busy day. I checked on Molly in the am before heading out to a funeral. His cage was pristine. Red flag! There should be crumbs on the shelf where the food is. Hmmm. I went from the funeral to Deer Lodge Centre to visit my brother in law and so didn’t get home till after 5:00 pm. I checked on Molly, cage is still pristine. I checked the litter box and found some loose pudding poops. Ok, he is stressed out about the move. I let him out to have some one on one play time with me. Molly made one circuit and found a hidey hole to sleep. I left him to sleep in my bedroom, closed the door and started my Med rounds which takes me an hour.
I offered Molly his favorite treats when I put him back to bed and he took them willingly. I had given him extra cuddles and treats. He would be fine.
When I got up Saturday morning and checked on Molly, his cage was pristine. The litter box had a scant blob of pudding poop! Ok, I have a sick ferret. Not one crumb means he is not eating. I warmed up some Duck Soup and added a little Ensure to make it even soupier. Lots of folks call their duck soup by the name soupies. What is duck soup or soupies? You take your ferret’s dry kibble (2 cups)) and add boiling water to cover the kibble by an inch. Once the kibble is mushy, process it through the blender to make it smooth like pudding. You may need to add some warm water to make it the right consistancy. Some people will add a bottle of Ensure at this point – I don’t anymore as I want to control the amount of Ensure the ferret is getting. Pour the duck soup/soupies into small containers or even ice cube trays and freeze. Now you can pop out a cube as needed or for multiple ferret homes, you have just enough to share with the furries without it spoiling.
I offered the warmed duck soup to Molly, he turned his face away going so far as to push my face away with his front paws. Molly has never had duck soup and I had not had a chance to introduce him to it since he had arrived. Now I have a sick ferret who is going to have to learn to like duck soup on top of feeling yucky, not a stress free way to start.
I tried to offer duck soup off of my finger, wore it across me cheek, I filled syringe and gently squeezed some into the back corner of his mouth. The gagging that ensued would have been funny if I wasn’t so worried. No matter what I tried, the pudding texture of duck soup was not passing his lips. I was wearing the duck soup in my hair, on my arms and Molly was giving me the “why are you trying to kill me look”
On to plan B – Ensure
Ensure is my go to ” food” that has saved many a critically ill ferret, after warming I scruffed Molly, put the syringe at the back corner of his mouth so he wouldn’t inhale the Ensure in to his lungs. I slowly squeezed the syringe dry. Repeat times 5. Now he has something in his tummy but this is not enough to keep him alive, ferrets need to consume 90 cc over the course of a 24 hour period to live. The fight to take the Ensure exhausted Molly so I tucked him back to bed.
Plan C – Trying to think like Molly
So, I lost my familiar cage, I got moved from the familiar room. Molly was pining, he felt “lost” abandoned again, I could not put him back in the shelter room cage it had been replaced by Ferret Nation cage.
Fortunately, I had the cage he used when he first came in. I set up the cage, added his favorite toy and my nightie. I rolled the cage in to my bedroom and set it up right beside my side of the bed.
After getting another food dish I added the Marshalls food that he came in on. Molly had transitioned to the shelter food and most of the shelter furries don’t care for Marshalls so I always have a bag in my freezer from donations. I went and got Molly and we simply snuggled for awhile. Then I warmed up the Ensure and made him take 5 more 1 cc.
Tucked Molly in to the cage in my bedroom, I did one more thing, I kissed him and told him it was not his time to leave. I needed him to stay and love me for a little longer in return I got lick on the nose. Molly got several more feedings of straight Ensure but if I tried the duck soup he would gag.
I tell you I did not get much sleep as I lay there praying for the sound of a ferret crunching his kibble. In the wee hours of Sunday morning I heard that blessed sound. I peeked and Molly was eating from the Marshalls food dish, I fell back to sleep knowing that he wasn’t going anywhere just yet.
It has been 3 days now and we are still fighting the duck soup, the faces he makes make me want to laugh, you would think I was trying to feed him poison! He is now taking the Ensure without a struggle and I am grateful for that. Molly is eating some kibble but not enough yet; I am still using only paper towels in his litter box so that I can monitor his out put.
We are getting pudding poops, so the tummy is on the mend. At 6 years old, this is going to be harder for Molly to get over than say a 3 year old ferret, it could take a couple of weeks to bring him back to health!
Let’s just say, that Ivan and Loki, the 2 new boys are going to be introduced to duck soup this coming Saturday, better they get used to it now without the stress of being sick!