FERRET NATION CAGE-DANGEROUS SHELVING

I can’t tell you yet if this story will have a happy ending but I am very optimistic because my vet has told me that Scrappy did not need to be put down. I am hoping the degree of her handicap will be minimal. Scrappy caught her left front paw in the shelf of her Ferret Nation cage.

I was not home when this happened so I do not know how long she struggled but the end result was that she freed herself. However in order to free herself, she literally pulled her shoulder out of its socket and even stretched the tendon. The left front shoulder and paw are now completely useless and fold in on her body.  We have her on Pred. to help reduce the swelling. She is confined to a small cage to keep her from moving around. My first thought is yeah right, keep a healthy 4 year old girl” named Scrappy for a reason” immobile!! Well, she is in enough pain that she is not moving/trying to use the shoulder.

Before you jump all over me for not giving her pain medication, the reason as explained by my vet is this; she will stay off the limb, stay quiet and let the nerves heal. If she was numbed of the pain, she would try to play like she is used to.  Crappy is not biting at me, not grinding her teeth or whimpering when handled.  I feel she is coping very well with her situation.

I have tried water therapy and she lay in my hand looking up at me totally unimpressed, not doing anything.  I am going to try again but for some ferrets, the water therapy is a bust!

Now, back to my reason for telling you all this!  This accident did not need to happen. I take full responsibility.  The MFA has 4 Ferret Nation cages. These cages were donated along with a surrendered ferret(s).  I personally think the Ferret Nation cage is the Cadillac of  cages. The large double doors make cage cleaning a breeze. The plastic floor pans are easy to slide out and clean. The shelves are nice and wide.

There is one  problem. The older model #142 had a plastic insert instead of a plastic tray on the shelving. The plastic insert has a tiny  gap and this is where ferrets were getting their front or back paws caught.

FErret Nation shelf with plastic insert-ferrets catching toes under angled bracket or along the edge

plastic insert

plastic insert

wire shelf without the plastic insert

wire shelf without the plastic insert

Now after several ferrets actually died and many more were injured, the Ferret Nation shelf was modified. Anyone with the original shelf could contact the company and the replacement shelf would be sent out. My understanding is that the cage owner had to contact the company. I had read about this problem but at that time we did not have any Ferret Nation cages in the shelter. So, in one ear and out the other as the saying goes!

By the time we started getting Ferret Nation cages donated with ferrets I had completely forgotten about the shelving issue.  In the last seven years we have received 4 Ferret Nation cages and until December 23rd we had never had a problem.  I wish that I had contacted the company and requested the replacement pan even though I wasn’t the original owner.  I previously had no time to go on line to Ferret.com to order treats(my friend looked after that for us) and so I did not see that they sold the replacement pan!

replacement shelf from Ferret.com

replacement shelf from Ferret.com

I have contacted the company, sent pictures at their request and now I am waiting to see if they will replace them free of charge because we are a shelter.  If not, then I will be ordering the shelves and bite the bullet at the $200.00 cost.

I am grateful that Scrappy did not die from her injury. I don’t know how I would have coped with that guilt.

So, if you have a Ferret Nation #142 check your shelving. If you have the plastic insert, please don’t wait till something happens! Learn from my mistake!

Molly update

Molly is my 6 year old surrender who has very much bonded with me.  Two recent changes in his place at the shelter sent him into a tail spin. I not only changed his cage, I also moved him out of the shelter room.  His reaction was a complete depression – he stopped eating!

I moved him into his familiar cage and moved the cage beside my bed; adding my used nightgown to his hammock so he knew his new Mommy was still with him.

Molly's cage

Molly’s cage

I then started him on duck soup as he was rapidly loosing weight!  Molly had not eaten for 48 hours and it showed!  Molly had never had duck soup and oh boy oh boy, what a fight I had with him.  The first few feedings saw me covered in the stuff as he gagged, shook his head, wiped himself all over my face and hair and fought me tooth and nail.  I had to resort to syringe feeding him and he thanked me by peeing on me! Molly slowly accepted the duck soup. We graduated from syringe, to finger to baby spoon and last night when I offered him the dish of duck soup he stuck him tongue in and went to town!  My little man had come around.

The weight loss is gone, the diarrhea is gone and he is once again doing his walkabouts!  Yes he is still beside my bed!  I can’t help it; I have to spoil him a little.

Molly loves his Mom

Molly loves his Mom

Lost Ferret Protocol! What to do when your ferret goes missing!

You can’t find your ferret! You have just spent the last hour or two looking in every nook and cranny in your house or apartment! Your ferret was asleep behind the TV or so you thought when your company was leaving! Your ferret was asleep in the bedroom when you took out the garbageor when you opened the door for just a second!

Before starting your search outdoors, you will need the following:

  • Pictures of your ferret: the more recent the better it  and who doesn’t have tons of pictures of their fur babies on their phone or laptop
  • Squeaky toy: that you have used to train your ferret to come to you with.
  • Treat bag: that you normally shake and he comes running for his treat
  • Flashlight: if it is after dark

Step One:

  1. Leave the front door ajar slightly – in the off chance that your ferret will come home while you are out looking. Do this only if you have someone home to watch the door. I have gone looking outside; positive the ferret had escaped only to be greeted by said ferret at the door when I came home.  You don’t want your ferret leaving the house while you are out looking! Stranger things have happened!
  2. Call your ferret, squeak that toy, shake that bag of treats.  Your neighbours will hear you even if your ferret doesn’t and you can alert them to the fact that you are looking for your lost ferret.
  3. Check the perimeter of the house/apartment block. Ferrets instinctively avoid being out in the open
  4. Check under bushes and shrubs.
  5. Ask permission to check out garages that have their doors open
  6. Check under decks, asking permission if you must go on someone else’s property.
  7. Check in woodpiles, asking permission if you must go on someone else’s property.
  8. Alert all your neighbours in a two or three  block radius, north, east, south and west.
  9. Enlist the neighbourhood children ages 7 or 8 and up to help you look. Show them a picture of your ferret. Tell them not to try and pick up the ferret but to call for help.  Offer a small reward. Children know all the best hiding spots from playing hide and seek.
  10. If you have multiple ferrets, take the lost ferret’s cage mate out on a leash and walk the neighbourhood.  The scent of the cage mate you are walking may guide your lost ferret home.

Step Two:

  1. Print up lost ferret notices and drop them in every mail box for 4 or 8 blocks in every direction. Yes, ferrets can travel that far!
  2.  Drop off a poster of your lost ferret to every pet store in the area
  3. Drop off a poster of your lost ferret to every vet clinic in the area.
  4. Call the Humane Society and alert them to your lost ferret
  5. Call the MFA and alert them to your lost ferret (didn’t think I should have to put this one in, but, for those who were to upset to think, just a gentle reminder that folks will often call us to come capture or pick up a lost ferret.)
  6. Call the local radio station that does lost alerts
  7. Use social media to alert them of your lost ferret. Lost Dog Alert will post regarding lost ferrets. use every lost alert facebook page you can reach

Step Three:

  1. Take your ferret’s carrier (with food, water and blanket)  or cage if  possible and set it outside by the door. The smell of food and his blanket  just might help guide him home.
  2. Some folks will offer a reward and this is something to consider
  3. Retrace your steps, checking the same areas several times. A friend of mine was following her ferret’s paw prints in the snow. They went around the house and back and around again. She stopped and looked behind her to see her ferret had been following her. So, your ferret may be following your scent.

 

 

 

Making your ferret a home

Ferrets do need daily playtime outside of their cages, but they usually still spend a fair amount of time in their cage. A large, well designed cage is a necessity.

Some features to look for are; solid floors and shelves (wire mesh is hard on the feet, although you can cover with a towel), balconies, and ideally solid ladders. Multi-level cages are nice, but depending on the arrangement of the levels, falls are possible. Get extra shelves or use hammocks to make cages safer as needed.

You should purchase and set up your ferret’s cage prior to bringing them home, the cage will serve as “home base” for your new pet and should be ready and waiting upon his arrival. Below are some pointers for setting up your pet’s new domain.

Comfort Counts – There are many options out there in terms of the type of material from which your cage will be built. Metal, plastic, and various forms of wire or mesh are a few that come to mind (wood is not recommended).

**Manitoba Ferret Association has used cages for sale**

In choosing the best type of cage for your ferret, consider how easy it will be to clean. Will urine and food odors seep into the material and be impossible to scrub away? Does the cage offer easy dismantling or removal and replacing of each level so that you can clean all the nooks and crannies?

Ferrets aren’t known for their neatness, and will make messes in places you have only imagined.

If you choose a wire or mesh cage, be sure to provide adequate bedding, old blankets, towels and clothing work fine. The goal is to make sure that the pads of your ferret’s feet are not injured or sore as a result of walking around on wires or mesh all the time. Wire or mesh-type cages do have the advantage of allowing you to purchase the types of litter boxes and food dishes that can be hooked to the side of the cage, making it harder for your ferret to overturn them.

Arrange your ferret’s cage so that each “function” has a designated place. Setting up a safe and comfortable home for your new companion will help him feel right at home. You wouldn’t want to live in an unclean house, and neither does your ferret! A clean cage is essential to your ferret’s overall well-being.

Accessorize – Equip your ferret’s cage with the following:

1. Litter pan, or pans, depending upon the number of ferrets in the cage and how stubborn your pet is regarding “potty training.”

2. Dish that holds a good amount of food and is difficult for your ferret to overturn. Heavy dishes or those that can somehow be hooked to the side of the cage work best.

3. Large bottle or second dish that holds plenty of fresh water, keep the water near the food.

4. Area designed especially for sleeping, with either extra bedding or a hammock or two. Ferrets love to curl up in hammocks to sleep, but will also enjoy comfy hideaways such as the leg of an old pair of your sweatpants.

5. Do not keep toys in the cage. Your ferret may chew the toy & cause itself a life threatening blockage

Part of responsible ferret ownership is cleaning your ferret’s cage regularly. This includes scooping litter, wiping down the cage, washing bedding, and other daily or weekly tasks. Because your ferret’s cage is a relatively small living area, it’s very important to make sure that any mess is cleaned up promptly.

I hate Duck Soup!

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.

I don't like DUCK SOUP!

I don’t like DUCK SOUP!

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.

IMG_20140908_113640

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.

use paper towels to monitor sick ferret's output

use paper towels to monitor sick ferret’s output

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!