2014 MFA Christmas Party

20 ferrets and their humans came out to the members only Ferret Christmas Party. Our Christmas party has always been a very low key affair. There are no organized games. This is an opportunity to visit with other members, share your silly ferret stories and be with like minded crazy ferret people. All the ferrets get a chance to meet other ferrets on neutral ground and territorial disputes are confined to “get out of my pet carrier”!

Every year Andy willingly (that’s what we tell ourselves) dresses up as Santa. Members are welcome to take pictures of their ferret(s) with Santa. This is free!  Every year several ferrets want to see what’s under that long hair and beard.  Really, Andy is a very good sport because some ferrets seem to have a personal grudge against Santa. Maybe they didn’t get that extra large bottle of Ferretone for Christmas last year!

picture with Santa!

picture with Santa!

After picture taking, we all enjoy the delicious spread of pot luck finger foods and sweets that members brought. The hot apple cider provided by Deb is always the first thing to go! Bridget always spoils us with an assortment of homemade finger foods and homemade pickles!

Once our tummies are full, it’s time for the gift exchange. Everyone that wants to participate brings a $10.00 gender neutral wrapped gift.
We have had to limit the Christmas gift steal to “once” only as that bottle of Ferretone can change hands multiple times and cause some teeth gnashing! This year the candles, ferret paws blanket, ferret bed passed hands as did the Ferretone, the bottle of wine and candles, cookies and treats.

Our president Danial choosing a gift from under the tree

Our president Danial choosing a gift from under the tree

Once  the gift exchange was done; we had a very special visitor.
Ferret Santa aka Newton pulling his specialized cart arrived bearing a sack full of treats for all the ferrets in attendance. I’m not sure but I think Santa Newton was strutting his stuff for all the girl ferrets and I think I saw a wink or two exchanged! Much thanks to Fred for creating the whole ferret Santa event. Trouble is, now he has to do this every year! We all loved it so much.

Look mom, it's Santa Newton with presents!

Look mom, it’s Santa Newton with presents!

Every year, we take a group Christmas picture. Some years back , folks picked out a paper sack that might contain a dress, pantyhose, a lumberjack shirt, a bra, you name it. You have to put the item on for the picture. The wardrobe of assorted clothes was starting to look like Value Village so we changed course a few years ago. Now, you match your number to the “silly hat”. Much easier to put on and I must say as I house all the MFA stuff in my spare bedroom, it is much easier on me too!

Merry Christmas 2014

Merry Christmas 2014

The party wound down at this point. Those of us that hadn’t left early due to other commitments were spoiled with a very special movie. Sharon purchased Santa’s Little Ferrets DVD. There are 3 short stories on the DVD. This movie with ferrets is professionally done. The outtakes after each set were hilarious! Trust ferrets to bring their own version of how things should be done. Sharon has left her DVD with the shelter and we will host another viewing at our upcoming annual Valentine’s Party!

Kathy and Bridget each won the raffle of a beautiful split hammock, Christmas red with glow in the dark eyes. Fred S. made these hammocks and donated them to raise money for the shelter. The ferrets get  to watch for Santa on Christmas Eve.

Glow in the dark eyeball hammock sewn and donated by Fred S.

Glow in the dark eyeball hammock sewn and donated by Fred S.

The draw for the StryxNB basket was won by  Chantal L.

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Please check out all the pictures from the party. Go to Manitobaferrets.ca and click on the flckr icon.

Looking Good for Santa!

I need to take a break hence I stuff certain ferrets in a gift bag and leave them under the tree for Santa!  I have spent the whole morning changing litter boxes and putting fresh hammocks and blankies in all the cages.

Next on the agenda was nail trimming time! Nail clipping is easy so long as you have your trusty bottle of Ferretone.  I have a special Ferretone stained towel that I set on the counter. I dribble some Ferretone on the tummy area and while the ferret is busy taking care of his Ferretone addiction; I do the nails.  I used to sit on the floor and do it until I got fed up  chasing down the Ferretone bottle as it thumped down the hall behind a ferret; leaving an enticing trail that the other ferrets out playing were skidding through!

Now you would be thinking that bath time was next so that everyone would be sweet smelling for Santa.  The first year I had ferrets, I bathed them every 3rd month. Then I smartened up and to the ferrets immense relief I only give them a bath in the Spring when they are shedding their winter coat and again in the late fall when they are shedding their Summer coat. The bedding gets changed every second day or third at the very latest.  I stopped having itchy ferrets and my ferrets and home smelled much better.  The ferrets were over compensating the oil production when I was stripping their coats every 3rd month.  The oily residue from their coats is deposited on the blanket/hammock and that is changed often enough that the smell does not have a chance to make stinkies. ** To keep their bedding smelling fresh and clean always add one cup of Vinegar to the wash water. The vinegar sterilizes and deodorizes the bedding!

Back to wanting to let Santa have the brats.  I figured I was all done, litter boxes washed and refilled, fresh hammocks and bedding and everyone had a manicure – time for a well deserved cup of coffee. I ran downstairs to put the washing into the dryer. Upon my return (sob) I discovered Dwight, Snip, Ginger and Peaches rolling, yes, rolling in honey!!!  I do not know which one opened the pantry, I do not know which one pushed the honey off the second shelf or the little bugger that got the tuperware lid off; all I know is that I had four very sticky ferrets licking as fast as their little tongues could go before mommy took the honey away! Okay, I can understand licking the spilled honey, but weasel war dancing through it!!! That was done just to spite mommy!

So, I put all four in my soaker tub and let them play/get clean. Have you ever tried to towel dry your ferret?  Do you know what wet ferrets do? I had four psycho ferrets jumping and bouncing and – nuts how can you stay mad when you are almost peeing yourself laughing.

So, I have four very tired, fluffy, clean fuzzbutts all ready for Santa. I hear whispering coming from the shelter room. I think the others want to get in on the fun – they honey is now on the top shelf and I am heading off to Wal Mart to buy baby cupboard locks!

here are the 4 brats (no, I was too busy grabbing ferrets to take a picture of them coated in honey, these portrait shots will have to do)

Ginger and Snip looking so innocent

Ginger and Snip looking so innocent

Dwight - I live with 3 girls, who's idea do you think this was?

Dwight – I live with 3 girls, who’s idea do you think this was?

I'm an old, old lady, I would never be naughty (tehe)

I’m an old, old lady, I would never be naughty (tehe)

Ferret First Aid Kit

It is highly recommended to always have a first aid kit on hand so you will be able to take care of your ferret should the situation arise.

Below is a list of required items to keep on hand;

  1. Emergency phone numbers; make sure you have the vet information easily accessible and any other contact needed.
  2. Ferret photos/vaccination records; it is also a good option to have photos of each ferret and records of vaccination on hand.
  3. List of all medications your ferret is currently taking.

Emergency food ideas;

  1. Jars of meat baby food-chicken or lamb chicken cooked/ground down in food processor/frozen in butter tubs/plastic containers (see Duck Soup)
  2. Light Karo syrup or nutri-cal (for quick calorie boost)
  3. Pedialyte or gatoraid (for de-hydrated ferret or just to keep system flowing)
  4. Can of prescription feline A D (you get this from your vet) easily digested food for the sick monsters
  5. A can of vanilla Ensure/Boost/Fortify
  6. Canola or olive oil (something to help move bad indigested stuff through)
  7. Petromalt or laxitone For hairballs use for everyday or every other day

Cleaning, Lotion or bandages;

  1. Calamine Lotion for balding ferrets, (relieves itchy skin and minor irritations from scratching)
  2. Hydrogen Peroxide (for cleaning cuts)
  3. Ear cleanser
  4. Eye wash/rinse
  5. Gauze pads Gauze wraps
  6. Washcloths
  7. Adhesive bandage tape (cloth tape holds the best)
  8. Styptic Powder or flour (for bleeding nails)
  9. Antibiotic ointment such as neosporin (for soothing and protecting cuts and scrapes)
  10. Bene-bac (for replacing beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract after illness or diarrhea) – can be purchased com
  11. Desitin (for rash and burn relief) or Any Diaper Rash Ointment 

Petroleum Jelly (to help move a blockage through and for easing in the thermometer)
  12. Kaopectate/pepto bismol/pesid/tagament (for diarrhea and soothing the tummy)
  13. Immodium liquid (for diarrhea)
  14. Ferretone or linatone (for mixing with medecine)
  15. Baby wipes (for general cleanup)
  16. Pediatric Liquid Benadryl ( for counteracting allergic reactions)
  17. Heating Pad ( to help maintain body tempature in a young or sick ferret)

Another use for Duck Tape……………

As a shelter mom for over 15 years, I sometimes puff out my chest and brag to my ferrets that I have outsmarted them and everything is ferret proofed! Ha Ha I snort at them.

God has a way of taking you down a peg even if it is only ferrets you are being smug with!

In my defense, I have a sinus headache today, but, really, that is no excuse for letting my guard down.

My mornings start with letting certain ferrets out to play.  The old ones come out first as they do a couple of tours and then find the most comfy spot to curl up and go to sleep. Everyone joins me in the kitchen for some Ferretone.

The Ferretone bottle always leaks at little after you puncture that titsy bitsy tiny pin hole in the cap.  Ferretone does a lovely job of staining your clothes, so I have taken to wrapping a folded paper towel around the bottle;  securing the paper towel with an elastic.  I have done so for years.

New Ferretone Bottle

New Ferretone Bottle

drip containment tools!

drip containment tools!

Ferretone bottle ready for use

Ferretone bottle ready for use

so, as I was saying, I have my seniors group out playing. Molly, Weasel, Finny, Mariko, Star, Rosie, Jnyx, JJ, and Bee or 9 fuzzbutts crowding around to have some Ferretone.  After an hour, everyone got put back to bed and I let out Dwight and his harem.  They came bouncing into the kitchen and I reached for the Ferretone bottle to give them all a treat.

The paper towel slid down the bottle; elastic gone!!! No,no, no  elastic causes blockages! Oh my God, 9 ferrets, which one ate it. Calm down, don’t panic!!! Scoop Dwight and his women and put them in the bedroom for now.

I am now back in the kitchen on hands and knees inspecting the floor. Please God, let me find the elastic, all of it or I will be dosing 9 ferrets with hairball laxative and praying over litter boxes.

Far corner, under the cabinet, eureka! The elastic and it’s all there; the broken ends match up! Deep breath, a few tears of relief and one heart attack avoided!

heart attack avoided, elastic is all there

heart attack avoided, elastic is all there

I use the Ferretone bottle 10 times a day at least.  How am I doing to handle the bottle without getting Ferretone all over me and my clothes? Light bulb comes on, secure the paper towel with something safer!!

Ferretone bottle duct taped up the wazoo

Ferretone bottle duct taped up the wazoo

The duct tape worked for a short while and then one day, slowly slid down! Damn, the oil loosened the tape.

Plan B, paper towel, elastic and then duct tape the bottle. The whole thing will stay on longer and when it does start to let go, the elastic is inside and can’t drop off without me knowing.

paper towel, elastic and duct tape over it all. Take that you drippy bottle

paper towel, elastic and duct tape over it all. Take that you drippy bottle

So, yes, I used duct tape.  I wonder if the company would like to know about my latest use of their product!

I went and kissed all my seniors and thanked them for not eating the elastic. Mommy owes them big time!

How to make Duck Soup /Soupies

As a shelter mom for over fifteen plus years, I am sure I  have made enough duck soup to fill a child’s swimming pool. The smell of the pureed kibble is not wonderful and in the early years thanks to my sensitive nose I did gag, persevere – your’s ferret’s recovery depends on it.

Supplies will you need;

  • A large bowl to soak your 2 cups of kibble
  • a kettle of boiling water
  • a blender
  • ice cube trays or small ziplock snack containers

Food used;

  • minimum of 2 cups of your ferret’s kibble mixture
    • It is easier to do multiple batches then to double or triple your supplies. I burnt out my first blender.  I now have an industrial blender and that allows me to make huge batches as I do have lots of furries!
  • a container of yogurt
    • vanilla flavor is recommended as your ferret’s tummy is already upset
  • Ensure or the diabetic version Glucerna in Vanilla
  • (optional) Ferretone
    • For those stubborn ferrets that won’t eat the duck soup unless it is drizzled with Ferretone!

Making the duck soup:

  • Pour boiling water over the two cups of kibble
    1. Enough to cover the kibble by one inch
    2. Let soak until kibble is soft and can be broken down with a fork, you may need to add more boiling water as the kibble soaks up the moisture
  • Put 1/2 cup of the mushy kibble in the blender, add enough hot water to help the blender puree.
  • Repeat until the 2 cups of kibble have been pureed.
  • Pour the pureed kibble into the containers you have selected and cooled pureed kibble then freeze

You can keep pureed kibble frozen until needed, just thaw in the fridge

pureed ferret kibble

pureed ferret kibble

vanilla yougurt

vanilla yougurt

IMG_1135

Vanilla Diabetic

Preparing the duck soup for your ferret:

  • Put one heaping teaspoon of the Vanilla yogurt in a dish
  • Put one heaping teaspoon of the pureed kibble in the dish
  • pour just enough Ensure over the mixture to cover. Use more Ensure to make the duck soup liquid if you are giving it by syringe. The duck soup is normally like thin pudding
  • warm your duck soup in the microwave for a few seconds (10 to 15 seconds) **stir with your finger to ensure there are no “hot spots” that can burn your ferret’s tongue. You want the duck soup warm not hot or “cooked”.
    heaping teaspoon of yogurt

    heaping teaspoon of yogurt

    heaping teaspoon of pureed kibble

    heaping teaspoon of pureed kibble

    IMG_1138

    How much ensure to add

    IMG_1140

    Consistency

    IMG_1141

    Finished duck soup

Giving your ferret the duck soup:

  • place a towel on your lap
  • hold your ferret in one hand and offer the duck soup dish with the other hand
  • your ferret should slurp down the duck soup

How to teach your ferret to like the duck soup:

You are offering your ferret it’s own kibble, bland vanilla yogurt and bland vanilla Ensure and your ferret is refusing to touch it. The reason for this is the texture, ferrets need to get used to the texture of a “grainy pudding” which is where Ferretone comes in.

If your ferret is not interested in the soup at all, drizzling a little of Ferretone on it will make the soup enticing. (It goes without saying if your ferret has never had Ferretone before this won’t work)!

Some other options are;

  • Apply a little of the duck soup mixture to the tip of your ferret’s nose. The ferret will automatically clean it’s nose. You may have to do this repeatedly  for the first week while your ferret is in reality managing to lick off maybe a teaspoon worth of duck soup.
  • Dab your finger in the duck soup and offer your finger to your ferret. Perhaps even rubbing your duck soup coated finger along the ferret’s back gums. I have known ferrets who enjoy this method that they demand this royal treatment long after they have learnt to like the duck soup.
  • You may have to scruff your ferret, suck up some duck soup in a syringe and apply the syringe to the back corner of the ferret’s mouth. Slowly, gently squeeze the syringe as you do not want to have your ferret “inhale” the duck soup.
    • Never offer the syringe via the front of the ferret’s mouth!
  • Using a baby’s spoon (think Dollarama)  put a little duck soup on the spoon and offer the spoon to your ferret. Believe it or not I have had ferrets who will finish a full dish of duck soup one spoon full at a time, but will not touch the dish itself.

It typically take several days for the ferret to learn to like the texture of the duck soup and willingly lick it right from the dish. Please note that if you go months without offering duck soup you will be back to square one as the ferret will no longer ‘remember’ liking this texture.

Give your ferret a teaspoon or two once a week so that he will see this as a weekly treat. If your ferret is sick, the duck soup mixture can be offered every 4 to 6 hours depending on whether the ferret is also still eating some hard kibble.

In the shelter sick ferrets get a dish of duck soup for breakfast, supper and bedtime.  A critically ill ferret may be offered a thinned duck soup by syringe every hour to two hours until the crisis has passed.

Miscellaneous Questions:

Q: Why am I using my ferret’s own kibble?

A: Because he is familiar with the taste and smell, if the first time your ferret is having duck soup is during an illness this is not the time to introduce a new food and cause further stomach upset.

 

Q: Why the vanilla yogurt?

A: The yogurt contains live active bacterial cultures that your ferret needs to replace in it’s gut due to having diarrhea

 

Q: Why the Ensure?

A: Ensure is a ‘high protein’ food. You don’t want your ferret using more energy to crunch and eat hard kibble than what he is going to benefit from nutritionally, licking Ensure burns minimal calories so the  nutrition stays on the positive side.

 

Q: How long should I give my sick ferret the duck soup? You give the duck soup as long as the ferret is too sick/weak to eat his dry kibble. Once the ferret is feeling better (watch the litter box) you will know to slowly reduce the servings of duck soup until you are back to offering it as a weekly treat.

 

Q: Can I give duck soup every day to a healthy ferret?

A: I would not recommend this as the ferret’s teeth will quickly get a build up of plaque from the soft food.  I don’t know of any ferret owner dedicated to brushing their ferret’s teeth after each duck soup feeding.

 

Q: My vet told me to give my sick ferret a can of their AD brand wet food – should I?

A: What my experience has shown is that this is a food that is foreign to the ferret and so he most likely will turn his nose up at it and may even gag.  If your vet indicates the wet canned food is necessary then add it to your duck soup mixture in the blender. The idea behind the canned wet food is the same reasoning as for Ensure.  You want your ferret to burn as few calories as possible eating a high protein food so that the ferret is not expending more energy to eat than what the ferret is gaining. Canned wet food is a source of high protein food in an easy to digest formula.  You would then want to have your ferret get used to the canned wet food while he is healthy.  Canned wet food can be to expensive in a multi-ferret home. Most ferret wise vets will be happy to hear you have introduced them to the duck soup blend and will tell you that your duck soup will work just as well as the AD canned wet food.

 

Q: Why do I keep smelling the duck soup long after feeding my ferret?

A: Well, I would say you are ‘wearing’ some duck soup in your hair, on your arms, maybe a smudge of it across your cheek where your ferret rubbed his face!  If I have had a ferret fight me to take his duck soup I will look like I rolled in the stuff – but I am a crazy ferret mom and will do what it takes even if it means my ‘perfume’ has all the dogs in the neighborhood drooling over me!!