Saturday, July 10, 2010

I'm so torn... - Originally posted 15 June 2007

So our oldest ferret, Lestat, is not doing too good. He has had the adrenal cancer for quite some time and we had been lucky (so far) in that he was responding well to the treatment. So well, in fact, that we were going every other month. But he has had a relapse starting a few months back and, recently, he had an hemorrhagy and... I'll spare the details... he's dying. The vet said that he maybe has a few more months to live. He has had a long life, especially for a Marshall's ferret. He's like 9 or 10 years old (I forget in which year we got him).

Now, given his fragile condition, he needs to be separated from his friend, Akasha. And Akasha is not dealing well with the situation, which is normal for a ferret. We can tell that she's getting increasingly depressed. She eats okay but she doesn't move much. Whereas she is normally very active in the cage, she just stays in her covers instead of roaming the cage.

Where I am torn is that, the best course of action, would be to get her a new buddy. The sooner, the better. But...
1) we would need to get a new cage first... because it's a bad idea to put 2 ferrets who have never met in the same cage on Day 1. They need to get used to each other slowly. Plus, the new ferret has plenty of drama from being taken from mommy to being put in the pet store, being thrown in with other ferrets that may be foreign, surrounded by weird sounds and other animals, then being moved again to a new home... so, yeah, a little "alone time" is a good thing. In the past, this had not been a problem because we have a little spare cage but now Lestat is occupying it.

2) should Lestat get better, if we have a 3rd ferret, then he would definitely not be able to go back with the other two because a baby ferret has TONS of energy and there are power struggles and... it would just be a bad idea...

3) we need to spend some time with Lestat and nurse him and a new baby also needs some time... and the current ferret also needs some time and love so that she doesn't feel left out.

4) should the new baby have any illness, it might affect both current ferrets... Akasha is strong so it's not a big deal but it might precipitate things for Lestat.

5) Akasha is still wild and not tamed yet. I don't know what the implications would be for the new buddy.

So we have considerations to think about for the sick ferret... and for the depressed ferret... and for the new buddy... What to do?

Comments I had received

From Molly:
Oh, hon, I'm so sorry! I take it that Lestat was not a good candidate for surgery? My oldest, Kai, just had an adrenalectomy before Christmas. He came thru just fine, but age seems to be taking a toll on him. I have no idea what to expect with him. I've never had a ferret pass from old age, so I don't know what to expect. I'm so sorry he is not doing well. He had a great life with you though, so be happy for that. Lucky little guy. As for the buddy dilemma, I firmly believe 3 is the magic number with ferrets. I also firmly believe in adopting rather than purchasing. All of my babies have been from shelters and it has been the most amazing thing. I really think they know that you saved them and they love you more for it. There is a shelter near you in Martinsville. Have you been there? How old is Akasha? The woman that runs the shelter may even let you temporarily borrow a cage for the introductions. Or maybe she'd have used ones for sale and you'd know the money was for a good cause. I wish you were closer to me. I have 2 extras that you could borrow. I use them for my quarantine cages when someone is sick or had surgery. I would adopt another baby and keep him/her in a separate cage till you can get the newbie to the vet for a full exam. I have heard that boys are easier to introduce to existing females than new girls are, but I'm sure that really depends on the ferret. I know it's scary to bring another one in, especially when you are so concerned about Lestat, but I think you should for Akasha's sake. Kai and Eva were inseperable like that as well which is what prompted me to adopt 3 two year old boys from a couple that couldn't care for them anymore. Now that Kai is declining, Eva plays with the others a lot and hopefully when it is Kai's time to go to the bridge, she won't be as devastated. If you need to talk or anything, let me know. I know what it's like to lose babies to adrenal. It's heartbreaking. Hang in there, sweetie.

From Hadara:
well.. first off I would give the depressed ferret as much attention as possible... there is just not much to do beyond that in this given moment until you ask yourself a few more questions.. 1. is Lestat suffering? Is he in pain? If so, even tho he only has a few months, does that mean it should be a misery? You might (and I hate to say it) consider euthanasia to give him peace. 2. cab Akasha "visit" lestat? can one of you hold Lestat and the other hold Akasha and let them smell each other? that might perk both of them up... 3. this isnt really a question... more a suggestion. consider #1 and if you cant bring yourself to do that then I think you might just have to wait until Lestat is on his way home to bring in another ferret... depression or not.. i'm so sorry about your little guy.. it sukcs to have to juggle these things about a beloved pet. I hoope for a pain free last few months for Lestat and I think Akasha will bounce back fine... hang in there

From me:
I got the bad news last Saturday and I asked the vet if Lestat was suffering. She was saying that, at that point, he probably wasn't but that, as the symptoms will progress, he will. She told me about signs that I should look out for that he is suffering and, yes, as hard as it will be, I will have him euthanized. Lestat's late buddy, Vlad (yes, all vampire names! ;op), suffered some due to our ignorance, some not-so-clear advice from the vet, and the illness. And I can't live through that again. And, especially, I don't want Lestat to go through that. Vlad died basically of complications from the adrenal cancer: he ended up having totally unstable diabetes. Akasha has such a strong relationship with Lestat! Boy! She is so protective! She puts me in the dog house every time I take Lestat to the vet. For real... like she will turn her back to me for hours. She places herself between the door and Lestat when I put him back in the cage (after the vet). I have every intention to let Lestat and Akasha play together tonight, under close supervision, given Lestat's state. Thanks you guys so much! It helps me to receive kind words (even though I may have cried a little :o...)

From Hadara:
i'm really glad to hear that the vet gave you signs to look for! with some animals its just so hard to tell. I really am sorry you have to go through this and Lestat too... its good that they will be able to play together some... it will ease Akasha's separation anxiety... maybe what you can do is look for another to adopt while all this is going on and maybe just have the new one waiting in the wings for right when you lose Lestat.. that way there wont be too much down time between playmates for Akasha.. ugh.. whatever way you look at it it all just sucks! hang in there and keep us posted!

From Haifa:
I know nothing about ferrets but good luck with everything!!!

From Badriya:
first of all, *hugs*--adrenal disease is a terrible thing. Is the medication you were using Lupron? My ferret Seti who is 5 is on that too. The thing about Lupron or any of the other drug treatments for adrenal disease is that they don't cure or slow down the disease, they just decrease the symptoms. So the ferret is definitely more comfortable, but the disease is still progressing. Surgery is the only real cure for adrenal, but of course that has its risks. With Seti, we've done a couple of ultrasounds but so far, neither gland is enlarged so the vets wouldn't know which one to remove. So for now he maintains well on his monthly Lupron. So, based on my ferret experience: I would say wait to get any new ferrets until Lestat has lived out a full comfortable life. Even if he isn't caged with the other ferret, he'd be able to smell it and that might be stressful for him. And you are very right about the illness factor. With Akasha, I would say pay her lots of extra attention so that she doesn't feel as lonely and also so that she doesn't get jealous over the time you spend on Lestat. From what you say about her being "wild" it sounds like she needs more handling anyway. When you eventually get another companion for her, it will probably be easier to socialize the new ferret if she already has been taught about playing nice. Hugs again--I know how hard this is. I lost a ferret about a month ago to some complicated digestive issues, he was only about 4 and much too young. I've decided to let Seti be an only ferret from this point on because I think at 5 he's not going to adapt well to a younger ferret and to be honest I can't take the heartbreak of adopting an older ferret only to lose it in a couple of years. But Seti is very people oriented, so I think we can keep him happy. He even sleeps in the bed with us at night :-)

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