Jul 262011

We’ve a sick ferret this morning: Jack Jack started throwing up just after pogle left for work. After a brief isolation period in the bathtub while he got it all out of his system, I’ve dosed him up on some pepcid ac (to help with the throat scarring) and ferret lax (to help with the flushing). He’ll be staying in the playpen today with lots of water and soup available. Here’s hoping my boy recovers. 🙁

Edit 11:15 AM – He hasn’t thrown up again and has drank some water, so that’s good. Postponing my allergy shot so I can keep an eye on him a little longer and maybe get some more water into him.

May 112011


Ysabell was laid to rest tonight, under the oak tree in our backyard. Meabh got her a small stone slab and bird bath, and a plant to sit near her. She was buried in one of our old tshirts (lets face it, 90% of the ferret’s bedding consists of our old and sometimes not-so-old clothing), with her favorite red kong and a piece of cardboard she’d holepunched back when she was feeling better.

Meabh and pogle would like to thank everyone for their kind words. We’ve had phonecalls and text messages, emails and IMs, and posts here on the Chubby Ferret from friends, families, and web readers alike. We appreciate you visiting us and sharing our ferrets’ lives through our photos and videos, even through the rough times like these.

We took Ysabell to our ferret specialist on Tuesday, for a post-mortem examination to see if we could find out what it was that was afflicting her these past couple months. We’d had an ultrasound and bloodwork done previously, and there were several different possibilities. In the end, it was one of these issues, but one we could do precious little for. Here is the note we got from our vet (warning, science ahead):

Ysabell had a ruptured mass in her intestines, where the duodenum meets the jejunum. Given the appearance of the intestinal lymphatic tissue (nodular) and the abdominal lymph nodes (enlarged), I am guessing the mass was lymphoma. She had a large amount of fluid in her belly, which was a reaction to the leaked intestinal contents (septic peritonitis). This is an event that happens very rapidly and has a poor prognosis. Sure, we may have been able to surgically remove the mass, but if it was lymphoma then intestinal lymphoma has a poor prognosis and requires chemotherapy to have much of a chance after surgery…I sutured up her incision, curled her up inside a pad, and placed her back in her box with her shirt and toy…May she rest in peace.

In the end, the ‘nastydonotwanttotakethese’ meds helped her for a while, but the root problem was beyond solving. By the time her symptoms became pronounced, she was far too weak to have stood much of a chance at something as difficult as surgery followed by chemotherapy. We’re just thankful that we got the time that we did with her, and even when she was declining that we spent extra special time carrying her around, letting her see and smell things that she no longer had the energy to interact with on her own.

Once again thank you to everyone, and in the future we look forward to sharing more times with you all: happy (lots!), funny (beyond count), and sometimes, when all else fails, sad.

May 092011

As we’ve been indicating in the blog, Ysabell has been unwell for some time. After a rough weekend where we couldn’t get Ysabell to eat, pogle came home from work to find she had passed away in her sleep. Minsc was curled up on top of her, keeping her warm even as she left us.

The introduction of Minsc into her life thoroughly upset Ysabell, although I think at least part of it had to do with the onset of her illness (even though we didn’t know this at the time). Towards the end, we’d occasionally hear Minsc’s loud complaints regarding her, but it had become less of a “Mom, she’s trying to kill me!” issue and more of a “Mom, Ysabell kicked me out of the bed!” issue. And oh my, did she love to steal his warm spots, especially if he had been snuggling with Jack Jack. She was very proprietary of JJ, her lifelong friend. Being the elder (and the adrenal one), I think his surviving her has surprised all of us, possibly even him.

It’s hard, with ferrets, to know when they’re not feeling well. For Ysabell it seemed to start with Minsc, and then suddenly she wasn’t hole-punching cardboard, stashing the kong, or playing during playtime. Logic tells me that these things slowly added up, but both pogle and I cannot help but feel her loss as sudden.

She’ll be laid to rest with her favorite Kong toy, that she loved to stash so much (and was positively frantic if she couldn’t find; no worries there anymore sweetie), and with a piece of cardboard, in memory of all that she has chomped on while bringing so much joy to our lives. We’ll miss you Ys.


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May 042011

Jack-Jack continues to thrive with his implant keeping his adrenal tumors at bay. He’s actually gotten a bit plump now, and plays quite well with Minsc.

Minsc and Minion both have implants as preventative measures, although neither showed any symptoms of adrenal issues (we just want to keep it that way).

Ysabell is unfortunately still struggling with the unknown liver disease. She went back to the vet last week, and bloodwork still showed increased levels of liver issue indicators, although they were reduced a little from the previous visit. She’s back on metronidazole, in hopes of continuing to lower said levels.. She Hates it. Capital H there. Its a very bitter medication, and she struggles and fights so much that she always ends up making matters worse. She’s started actively hiding from us, trying to avoid taking it, and I fear even if we heal her she’ll remain skittish and untrusting.

Mar 312011

Pog took Ys to the vet Tuesday for her ultrasound. She now has a shaved belly as well as a shaved neck, and is all around quite pathetic. The boys are helping to keep her warm–even Minsc! I’ll post pogle’s summary of the trip, as he explained the situation to some email friends:

Took Ysabell to the vet for an ultrasound yesterday, she had some
bloodwork done last week that showed liver problems. Ultrasound didnt
find evidence of cancer thankfully, so now we get the joy of feeding a
ferret nasty-tasting antibiotics twice a day for the next two weeks.
And if that doesn’t fix her problem (shes lost a lot of weight and is
very out of sorts), the next best guess for what’s wrong with her
is…Crohn’s disease/IBD. I’ll let you decide why that might be
amusing to me. But at least theres a chance we can treat her now.

We’re using ferretone and chicken broth to help convince her to take her meds (thank goodness they’re liquid). She’s still eating well (and eating wet cat food), but she’s still tiny. I don’t think her weight has changed further. I splurged and got her some of the “good” canned cat foods (meat as the first 3 ingredients on the list and/or no grain varieties) and we’re experimenting with those:

  • Wellness canned cat food: very thick pate, so I added a lot of water; it took her a long time to eat, so I’m going to start splitting the cans and only giving her half at a time. She did eat it though.
  • Merrick Gourmet: she’s trying her first can this morning. We’ll see if the bowl is empty by tonight.

Since we were taking Ys anyways (and our vet offers free dayboarding), we went ahead and got Minion and Minsc a deslorelin implant to try to pre-empt the development of adrenal disease in either. It is a contraceptive and should keep their bodies from creating too many hormones which would just end up in their adrenal gland, and thus causing the issues. Jack Jack is almost a plumpy on the medication! Ysabell will get an implant as well, once she’s well. The implants should be effective for a year or so, so I think we’re just going to treat it as yet another yearly vaccine the ferrets need. By starting them early (before they have the disease), we hope to extend and improve the quality of their lives.

Mar 252011

The vet ran some tests and thinks there is something wrong with Ysabell’s liver, so she is scheduled to get an ultrasound next week to try and learn more about what’s going on. My wallet would cry, but Ysabell has already stashed it.*

Oh, and they shaved her neck today. I’ll try and get some pictures for you tonight. XD

She’s eating really well, at least. She seemed to be having some trouble with the kibble, so I’ve been leaving an extra bowl of canned cat food out every day. By the next day it’s usually empty–and she’s the only one I’ve seen eating it. We won’t talk about the effect it is having on the litter cleaning chore, though. Ew.

What I’ve learned:

  • Friskies canned cat food (real chunks of meat) just gets spread around the cage after all of the liquid is licked off.
  • Fancy Feast (pate style) is popular with a bit of extra water mixed in.
  • Iams doesn’t seem to be popular, but I tried the original can on the first day so we’ll see how she likes the second one now that she’s use to this type of food.
  • Chicken baby food is approved when thinned with water, but doesn’t really get her excited.


*Not really, but you know she would if given the chance. 😉

**3/27/11 – Fixed some of the cat food reactions (I confused Friskies and Fancy Feast).

Mar 052011

Ysabell didn’t kill Minsc last night.

We’ve been taking our time socializing the ferrets, letting the older ferrets get used to Squirt. Minsc has his own cage (our one story, folding travel cage) that he lives in alone (with occasional visits from JJ). A few times we’ve put Minsc in the big cage to try and get them all used to living there together (and to spread his smell around it, making him one of the gang). They get shared playtime, however, both in the playroom itself and in the close quarters of the playpen if it’s my morning off work.

Turns out JJ loves to wrestle with Minsc (who mostly just runs away), Minion thinks he’s fun too (Minsc will wrestle with him more than JJ), and Ysabell hates his guts (Minsc squaks like he’s dying the minute she gets near him).

She’s slowly coming out of it, but for the past few weeks she’d approach Minsc, groom him a bit, then latch onto his neck and SHAKE. This would naturally result in lots of squealing from Minsc. I spent a good 10 minutes one day just watching them and yelling “YSABELL!” whenever she got near his neck.

I’ll tell you one thing: she knows her freaking name, that’s for sure.

Everytime, she’d stop and look at me. Maybe shuffle a few steps back. And watch. After a few moments she’d start stretching her neck out to Minsc, which would get her scolded again.

After that little training session she’s been doing better, enough so that we let Minsc sleep in the big cage last night (I’m a light sleeper when it comes to the ferrets, and could be awake and running in less than a minute). I didn’t hear a peep, even when I woke up with insomnia at 5AM.

Pog says there was some squaking earlier today, but for the most part it’s been quiet. This could mean several things: Ysabell is in a good mood today, Minsc is learning not to use the baby squak, or Misnc is getting really good at tiptoeing around Ysabell.

My money is on #3, seeing as I got to watch him tiptoeing earlier tonight. Ysabell stole his bed while he was in the litter bin, and he had to walk by the bed to get to the ramp up. He very quietly got out of the litter and, with his body low to the ground, started slowly walking toward the ramp. All the time he was as quiet as a mouse and stayed out of her sight range.

Smart little thing. He may just survive kit-hood with this bunch after all.

Jan 172011

Found information strongly linking insulinoma and carbohydrates in ferret food, so I redid the ferret food list. While I was at it, I also listed the first 5 ingredients of each brand. Huge difference.

Jan 092011

I think we’ll be going with a mix of Natural Gold, EVO, and Mazuri.

Update: I’d have to order from three different online sites to do the optimal blend, and to get lower shipping I’d have to order $80 on each site. >.< Thankfully, the ferrets are good on food for now.

Update 2: With JJ most likely having Adrenal Disease (we’ll be discussing it with our vet soon), I think I’m going to start pushing the ferrets to try raw food again. Before I always tried cooked chicken, etc, with only chicken broth being popular with Ys and Min. Right now I’m actually testing a bit of raw egg on them (Eggland’s best, so the highest quality I can get); Ys at least licks it a bit but the others aren’t interested. I’ll keep trying, since it’s much better for their systems and could help JJ with his condition.