You’ve Come a Long Way, Bunny

You've Come a Long Way, Bunny (2)

Bugs Ready for His Close Up

Bunny habitats have evolved over the years. From wood hutches to wire-constructed cages, nothing can compare to today’s rabbit castles. My current rabbit is one lucky boy.

While none of my animals were ever kept outside, I knew people who housed rabbits in wood and chicken wire hutches, and the animals did just fine. My first bunnies lived in my parents’ basement, in wire cages purchased through a catalog. They had solid metal trays that slid out beneath the wire floor, lined with newspaper to collect waste. However, wire floors could hurt bunny feet, especially the large breeds. To help prevent this, I had resting boards, which were slabs of hard plastic with holes for any messes to fall through. That seemed to be a better surface (at that time) for the bunny to sit on.

I later switched from wire cages with pans to cages with deep plastic bottoms, which could be filled with a variety of bedding material. These enclosures needed frequent changing, as the pet lived directly on the material that they would eventually soil, unless the bun was litter box trained.

It wasn’t until Bugs came home that I discovered the joys of litter box trained buns and roomy living quarters. I’m not sure how he was taught, but Bugs eliminates in a dishpan-turned-litter box filled with absorbent bedding. This makes keeping his house clean a snap. His enclosure is constructed from wire storage cubes, and has no top or bottom. The wire cubes sit on foam puzzle pieces easily found in stores or online. This gives him a cushy place to hop, instead of sitting the cage directly on the concrete basement floor.

He has a roomy, soft area to move around, filled with things to make a bunny happy. Bugs has a combination pellet/hay rack, which I only use to hold pellets now that I discovered that the divider holding the hay in place is missing. Because of this, he has a separate hay rack hanging from the wire cube, above his litter box. Bugs also has a separate dish for his salads, and right now he enjoys parsley and cilantro. He has two blankets that lay atop the foam floor. There’s a large igloo hideout when he wants to feel hidden. Bugs has two chew toys that hang from his enclosure, and he has a variety of toys to keep himself entertained. He has two balls, one that can be rolled and another that can be chewed. There are three chew sticks in his house, in addition to a lava block and bunny rattle that can be tossed.

Every morning I do some light housekeeping. I change his litter box, and sweep up any loose hay, fur, or runaway droppings. I refresh his water, hay, and pellets as needed. When he sees me come down the stairs, he hops to the front of his enclosure and stands up on his hind legs for petting. I really love this little guy. Rabbits do make wonderful additions to your family.

You've Come a Long Way, Bunny

Bugs Enjoying Floor Time

Pet Emergency Preparedness

Pet Emergency Preparedness (2)

Ozzy Goes Where Red Goes

Our power went out for a few hours on July 3 after a nasty storm blew through. Because Moose has a heart issue, we decided to leave the house so that he could be in air conditioning. We loaded up Moose and his brother Red for company, and ran some errands with them until the electricity was restored. I knew from experience that power outages are infrequent in our area, and that time without power would be minimal. As for the other fur kids without health issues, the house was comfortable, so we felt safe leaving them at home. Rest assured, had we thought the house was too uncomfortable, we would have left with everybody.

This ordeal had me thinking about pet emergency preparedness. What if we lived in an area prone to natural disasters? If we had to get out fast with the animals, what would we bring? The following is what I would bring for my own pets.

Vaccination Records. My animals are up-to-date on their vaccines, including some that may be considered optional, such as the kennel cough vaccine. That is sometimes required at boarding facilities, and you never know when you may have to put your dog in such a place in an emergency. Cats may also be required to have certain vaccinations.

Carrier/Leash/Identification. Sturdy carriers are a must for cats and small dogs, as well as for small pets like our bunny. Our parakeet Priscilla has a cage that can be lifted out of its stand and be transported. All my fur kids have their own carrier, because even the best of friends can lash out when stressed. (Photo disclaimer: Ozzy voluntarily walked into the crates with the dogs. He was only in them long enough for a quick photo before being ushered out). The dogs have secure collars and leashes, and are microchipped, because identification tags can fall off collars, making it more difficult to be reunited with you should you become separated. Our cats wear breakaway collars and are microchipped, too.

Plastic Bags/Disposable Litter Pan/Litter. I would bring plastic bags for doggie cleanup, and disposable litter pans and litter for the cats. Should we wind up at a hotel, or a family member or friend’s place, they will appreciate our cats having their own spot to eliminate.

Medications. As of now, Red would need his anti-anxiety medication, and Moose needs his heart prescription. I would also bring their chondroitin/glucosamine supplement, and heartworm preventative.

Food/Water/Bowls. I can’t forget the obvious.

Blanket/Toys. If we have the room, my pets would probably enjoy having their favorite blanket or toy with them. They will be stressed, too, and something familiar to them may bring them some comfort. I can count on bringing a stuffed ring, elephant, and platypus for Red.

Everyone’s list will be different, and mine is far from exhaustive, but these are just some items that I would bring for my own animals in the event of an emergency. Use your judgment for your own animals.

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Ozzy Shares Moose’s Crate

Black Cat Appreciation Day 2018

Black Cat Appreciation Day 2018 (2)

Appreciated Every Day of Every Year

August 17 was Black Cat Appreciation Day. It’s been two years since I adopted my black kitty Vlad, and if you’ve never been owned by one, you’re really missing out.

Cats with onyx-colored fur are often overlooked in shelters, and they are among the last to be adopted of the cats looking for new homes. I’m not sure why this is, as they are really awesome. In fact, I have a friend who once owned five black cats at the same time.

As someone who loves Halloween more than any other day of the year, people were surprised that I didn’t have a black cat. When our kitty population was sadly reduced to just two, we decided to adopt two new cats, and I specifically wanted a black kitty. If you want to read more about how our boy joined the family, please read Welcome Vlad.

Of course I’m biased, but I think my guy is wonderful. There’s no doubt in my mind that my beloved Ozzy (2001-2016) had a paw in sending him our way. So, why do I appreciate Vlad?

I appreciate how lovable he is. I’ve never seen a cat respond to kisses with kisses of his own. It just takes one smooch on his furry head, and out comes his little sandpaper tongue to kiss the tip of your nose. It’s the cutest thing, and it never gets old. My day isn’t complete if I don’t receive one of his kisses, but on occasion he can get stingy with them, and maybe turn his head rather than indulge me. I notice that he does this when he wants to eat and after nail trims. I can’t say that I blame him.

I appreciate his ability to protect me from vicious insects. Should I ever be attacked by a horde of angry crickets or grasshoppers, I know Vlad will save the day. I witnessed him kill and eat a bug that infiltrated the family room. In light of that, maybe I should be turning down his kisses, instead of the other way around.

I appreciate his companionship. He’s a lap cat, and doesn’t take no for an answer. It doesn’t matter if I’m on the couch with a lap desk, or at the table on the computer. If Vlad wants attention, he demands it, with no regard to what you might be doing. It’s all part of his charm.

Black Cat Appreciation Day may have just passed for this year, but it’s never too late to add a black cat to your family. I’ve heard that they can be some of the most loveable felines, and judging by Vlad, I would have to agree.

I would like to draw your attention to the photo below. Vlad plays with this toy alone at night in the dark. I like to think that’s when Ozzy visits to play with the brother he never met.

Black Cat Appreciation Day 2018 (1)

Playing With Ozzy?

 

Introducing Bugs

Introducing Bugs (2)

Our Newest Addition Bugs

I’m happy to announce that we expanded our family by one fur kid a week ago. This brings our menagerie to 2 dogs, 4 cats, 1 parakeet, and now 1 rabbit. Please welcome our newest addition Bugs.

I wasn’t planning to get another rabbit after our French Lop Rambo suddenly crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Well, the little guy needed a new home, and we decided to become his forever family.

It’s anyone’s guess what breed or breeds he might be, but he’s a cutie nonetheless. I was told that he’s four years old. Bunnies can live past 10 years, so I hope Bugs and I have several years together. I’m sure he will appear in future posts once he gets settled in.

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Somebunny New to Love

 

Storm Predicting Pets

Storm Predicting Pets (1)

Annie

I’m fortunate that I don’t yet have any aches or pains that let me know when bad weather is on the way. However, I’ve heard that animal behavior can be an indicator of an unsettled atmosphere. When New Jersey had a palpable earthquake in 2011, the birds on the power lines disappeared in unison moments before the earth shook. Can domesticated animals have the same proclivities?

Our brown tabby cat Annie (1998-2015) was more accurate than any local weather forecast. She spent her time perched on tall furniture, her favorite an old entertainment center, because she really preferred her own company to spending time with any of her feline or canine brothers. That was her domain, away from all of them, until later when she spent most of her time on top of the refrigerator.

As much as she disliked the other critters, whenever a storm was coming, she would abandon her high, safe place. You might guess that she would seek refuge under the bed, but she didn’t. Annie would sometimes hide out in the pantry, behind the safety of the wooden doors. Even if the other cats and dogs got close, she held fast to her position. She had another place to ride out the storms that was even more bizarre. She would lay in front of the subwoofer that sat on the family room floor. She was wide open to being annoyed by the others, little brother Ozzy in particular, yet she never moved. Sure enough, a storm followed whenever Annie fled to the security of the pantry or floor. When it passed, she would return to her normal hangout, as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened.

After Annie crossed the Rainbow Bridge, we didn’t have another cat to trumpet the arrival of an impending storm until we adopted our little orange tabby Barnabas Collins. He’s been with us for two years, and we saw him exhibit storm-predicting behavior just once. He’s far from antisocial, so his safe place when storms are on the way is backed in tight against the curio/grandfather clock that sits in the dining room. From this vantage point, he is exposed to the other animals, but that doesn’t bother him since he’s a friendly guy. When a thunderstorm came through after he huddled on the floor, we realized that we did in fact have another storm predicting pet.

Our other three cats, Tiger, Tiki, and Vlad, show no ability to predict weather. The dogs have never shown any unusual pre-storm behavior. However, when they were younger, if a storm hit, they wanted to be burrowed under their blankets or be held by one of their humans. The weather doesn’t seem to affect them much anymore, but I think that is likely due to their compromised hearing more than anything else.

While predicting Mother Nature is difficult with even the latest and greatest technology, we will rely on our cat Barnabas for accuracy when it comes to predicting storms. Who needs to watch the weather report on television, when you have the cutest furry meteorologist at home?

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Barnabas Collins

The Moo Boo-Boo

The Moo Boo Boo (2)

Treat Time

Italian Greyhounds are a dramatic breed. The most benign injury can elicit a blood-curdling sound that is commonly known among owners as the Iggy death scream. While I’m not sure that I’ve heard the scream, I have heard my fair share of yelping and whining. Moose is our drama king. He lets it be known to anyone within earshot that he doesn’t like his brother Red stepping on him, or nail trims. The trims rarely result in bloodshed, yet he still carries on in his imaginary distress. Sometimes he starts his singing before the first nail is even touched.

Last month we found him holding up a leg, hobbling around on his other three legs. We didn’t see what happened, but we were spared the shrill scream. We think he hurt himself either jumping onto or from the couch. He limped for a bit but seemed to recover quickly.

A couple days later, when he and brother Red were enjoying treats, I thought I saw irritation along what would be Moose’s elbow. On further inspection, his armpit was raw and an angry shade of red.

My first instinct was to slather it with an ointment that I keep on hand to soothe irritated skin. However, Red had just recovered from a nasty skin infection, so I didn’t want to put anything on the area in the event that Moose also had the same affliction. Since the discovery was made on a Saturday, and our vet’s office is closed on Sunday, we decided to show up sans an appointment to see if anyone could spare a minute to look at the spot in question.

We couldn’t have timed our visit any better. There was no one in the office when we came in, and we saw the vet on duty in a matter of a few minutes. After her examination, it was determined that there was no skin infection, but she thought it may have been a result of the leg injury that he sustained. Not only was there redness under his front leg, but it was also on his side, radiating from the leg.

The treatment was rest and a short course of an anti-inflammatory. Moose walked out of the practice his usual happy self, making friends with a Golden Retriever on the way out. I’m happy to report that he has made a full recovery.

As bad as it looked, it could have been a lot worse. Italian Greyhounds are prone to leg breaks, but that is something we have fortunately (knocks on wood) never experienced. Moose’s once blue-colored head is mostly white now, but if he keeps hurting himself, the white on my head may rival the amount on his.

The Moo Boo Boo (1)

Armpit Closeup