Stay calm – It’s just a sick guinea pig

Over the last week, I have been having trouble getting Lily to take her usual treats from me. She kept asking for snacks, and then telling me it wasn’t a snack, and walking off. Alright. Maybe it’s a spell with her sniffer?
Turns out, not entirely, and when I was cleaning the pig pen on Friday with my step daughter, I realized that Lily was very light.
“Oh no.” and I rushed to the kitchen to pull out the scale and the guinea pig container.
The color flushed from my step daughter’s face. “Oh no?”
“Yeah…Yeah, that’s what I thought”

Lily has lost over 300 grams. Her gimpy rear right leg was very lame. However, she’s still got her personality, still interested in food but not taking it, and was definitely eating her hay. I called the vet and they said they could do an emergency visit at the end of the day for an additional $75, and that nothing was available until Monday as Saturday was all booked out. I told them we would wait until Monday.

Her appointment is in three hours. She’s not dead yet. She’s actually okay. Why would I wait until Monday?
Because I have had guinea pigs for almost a full 11 years. Lily is heading towards age five. I still have non-narcotic pain relief from her spay in April. I know how to find the dosing for her new svelte weight. I also have liquid vitamin C supplement from a previous vet visit. I know how to hand feed formula through a syringe. If she’s going to die over the weekend, there is not much I can do about it aside from run up a very large veterinary services bill, and then have a deceased piggy.

I’ve been giving her medicines, just got her handfeeding formula yesterday, and her weight stayed the same from Friday to Sunday. She was eating cucumber all weekend along with her Oxbow Natural Science vitamin C hay tabs (cookies) and loose hay in the cage, but this morning didn’t go so well. She came up to me for treats, and then told me that the cucumber wasn’t a treat. She again came up to me for treats, and then told me her cookie wasn’t a treat. She’s barely nibbling at the hay today. We did get 5mL of formula into her. Yesterday afternoon it was 8mL, but I’ll take what I can get. Ideally you would want your piggy to have 10-15mL in a single sitting, but I am sure her tummy has shrunk way down.

So, what’s the plan?
I’m going to take her to have her teeth checked and get a good and thorough groping. I don’t want to run up a big bill with blood work and x-rays. I want their best educated guess. If it’s her teeth, we will trim them. If it’s an obvious tumor somewhere, we will continue with medicine and hand feeding as long as she will allow. If it’s a cyst, we will drain it.

But she’s spayed…Why would she have a cyst?
This is a good one. My previous 8 year old guinea pig (who was spayed) ended up with a massive cyst on her kidney. They wanted to remove her kidney (because cysts can return), so we did blood work to make sure her kidney function was great, and then we tried to get her weight back up for surgery, but she never gained. I was hand feeding her 4 times a day, along with her medicine, and it was only keeping her weight from plummeting.
That guinea pig wasn’t even the only one; just the most obvious one. I had an ultrasound done on Mr Emerson near the end of his life, and he had polycystic kidney, which is a more common occurrence in canines. Mr Emerson had health problems all his life, but I adored him.

Getting ready to do this. All her other daughters have died besides Murphy, and Murphy may be alone soon. I can handle this. *sigh*

The most impressive item you didn’t know you needed

THIS THING!
The Drinkwell Pet Fountain Cleaning Kit

I have been cleaning my Drinkwell Platinum fountains with a toothbrush and sponge for years. It was a messy job, it never felt complete, and it took more than ten minutes. I came across this one day while I was trying to pad my Chewy.com order up to $49 for free shipping, and I am so glad I did. There is no residue left over in the fountain, it’s clean in five minutes, and you would be surprised at all the muck hiding out in the fountain nooks that the brushes coax out effectively. The channel from the motor to the waterfall (can’t even get your pinky finger in there) is stuffed with grossness until you brush it out.

But it’s also not just about the fountain, if you have a Drinkwell or something similar, but that these are great brushes to use on your small animal water bottles. I have been wondering for the longest time why the guinea pigs favor one bottle over the other. I check the tip to make sure the ball moves and it’s wet, so it must be fine and the piggies are weird?
I was wrong. I cleaned out the nozzle on their favorite bottle and thought to myself “oh yuck. Why are you always drinking with food in your mouth?!”. A bunch of muck came out. After I gave it back to them, I pulled the bottle they rarely ever drink out of. As soon as I stuck the brush in the nozzle (this is the small brush meant for the pet fountain motor), there was resistance from the ball midway up the tip. I ran hot water through it and forced the brush to move the ball further up the sipper tube, and this wad of old guinea pig cud flushed out into the kitchen sink. I spent more time cleaning it out until I thought it was ready, and I gave it back to the girls with clean cold water. Murphy started drinking out of it immediately.

It doesn’t matter how much hot water or vinegar you use, there is always muck hiding in these things until you get yourself a set of brushes.

Preconceptions out the window – Raising pets

There are arguments for everyone’s household on parenting and raising your fids or kids. I have been doing both for 10 years now, and my opinions have evolved so much that I would probably shout a few choice things at myself even back in the first five years over the way I was doing things.

In an effort to be better, I realize that there are no cheap pets. There are no low maintenance pets. There are no Starter Pets.
If you get a female guinea pig, be prepared that at some point they may cost you at least $250 in veterinary bills. For their health, they may need spayed. If they live until 4 years, they are more than likely going to need spayed. And be prepared, because they won’t tell you this, but that the oldest guinea pigs were 14 and 15 years old. I can get in line with that, even if you think it’s impossible, because my oldest completely surprised me and lived to almost 8 and 1/4 years. By the way – She needed a spay.
Guinea pigs are often referred to as Starter Pets. What child has $250? I might as well add that I never let my step daughter go get guinea pigs in and out of the pen by herself until she was 10.

Cats are cheap and easy, right? Kibble, litter, and some don’t even stay in the house most of the time. People even give kittens away for free. Who doesn’t love a free kitten? Getting all the vaccines required under 1 year can end up costing you hundreds at the vet, and under $150 if you know how to play your cards right from other clinics. If you think $50 or $100 is too much to adopt a cat for from the shelter, because you can get a cat for free, please reconsider. It is a value. They are already vaccinated, maybe even microchipped, usually sterilized, and often include a first free vet visit within their network. ADOPT ADOPT ADOPT.
I also thought I was perfectly fine feeding kibble until they were seven, and my cat nearly died, a few times. The cats drink from the water fountain, so they’re hydrated. Right? It’s often not enough because did you know that your cat usually won’t drink because it’s casually thirsty? Cats are NOT naturally thirsty. They drink when it’s required, because they are getting dehydrated. My cat’s urine wasn’t dilute enough and he developed a condition that created blockages. He was unable to pee. It was extremely painful, very dangerous, and my boys have both ditched kibble entirely for almost 2 years now. I started doing combination feeding with the girls so that they are eating at least some wet food each day. One lady eats mostly wet food because she loves it, and the other girl has never preferred wet. Not even after over a half dozen dental extractions. Yeah – I also have a cat whose teeth rot out of her head for no known reason.

I’m not even getting into the worst of everything. But you know what I’ve found out in the last 10 years? The $450 parrots have been the least problematic. We get along really well, and I get bit often when they decide to have a tantrum. Their main food runs $130 a year. You do have to spend hundreds on a cage, use a helping hand for grooming, they poop on everything, need special lighting.
Why did I do this to myself?

When I started out, I was in my twenties, and I was simplifying everything. I thought this was so manageable. Why did I ever have twelve guinea pigs at a time? I have two now, and that’s enough. The last time I brought a guinea pig home it turns out she was pregnant. I paid the adoption fee for one, and I ended up with 5. Four cats is not easy when two have asthma, one has FORLS, one has FLUTD, and one gets hairballs. I used to let my boys use a free feeder and because I thought that was all I needed to do, my 13 lb boy swelled to 21 lbs, and I had to discipline myself as well as him, and take a few years out to slowly correct it. The girls free feed no problem.

Whatever you decide to do to bring joy into your live and make additions to your family, understand that you will eventually come up against the unexpected, and that you made a commitment to give them the best life you possibly can. You may at some point need to be in possession of a CareCredit card CareCredit.com. You may also need to find better ways of saving money. Shop circulars, occasionally take walks through the pet stores you didn’t need to see what they are closing out that month. Compare pricing with Chewy.com. Look at Slickdeals.com . I make the boys’ food now from scratch. It takes 3 hours every month. I do this for a few reasons, and it’s not for everyone. The first thing I learned when I started taking on guinea pigs is that you can do laundry for them instead of buying disposable bedding from the store all the time. Words of wisdom, right there.

They also have insurance for pets, which I thought was kind of odd a decade ago. $35 for a cat each month. $420 a year “just in case”. In case of what? I’ll tell you: $10,000. Tommy has run up that amount in vet bills in the past two years. I should have signed him up. Tomas Puma Gargoyle is the prime example. You know who isn’t? His sissy. Princess Yue Pajama Pants has lived with us just as long as he has. The total on her lifetime vet bills, aside from spay and vaccinations? $65. Both cats have been with use since kittenhood and are nine years old. How could I know? Whose side should I be on? Should you get insurance, or should you not get insurance? $10,000 isn’t even Tom’s lifetime total, but Yue’s is $65.

These are the big questions. Are you up for it? Are you willing to learn more as they get older and try to change with the times? Do you need a hug?
Yeah. Me too. I’ma go hug a kitty.

Pedi-Perch Cement Bird Perch by Living World for #chewyinfluencer

Chewy.com provided us this Pedi-Perch to test out with our green cheek conures and review the product at no cost to us.

Available in X-small to X-large right here

We got the medium. It has two textures, and different gripping sizes to work their feet out from fatigue.

I will try anything on these girls for less than $10

Living World Pedi-Perch Cement Bird Perch is an essential addition to your bird’s home. This cement bird perch helps naturally trim and maintain blunt, well-groomed nails as your bird moves about on it. The multi-grip wave surface promotes foot circulation and helps prevent arthritis and atrophy. In addition, this beneficial perch helps clean and condition your bird’s beak as he invariably pecks and bites at it.

EXCEPT THEY WOULDN’T RESPOND.

It sounds great, definitely affordable, I got the appropriate size, they didn’t send it to me in purple (they hated my purple hair), and this is a highly rated item on Chewy! 4.6 stars with 50 reviews! It sounds great for my three girls.

They didn’t scream when they saw it or when I put it in at the beginning. They just never used it. I had it right next to the seagrass play mat, and so they stopped using the seagrass play mat. I took it out after 2 weeks, and Koi Monkey let out a shriek like she’d never seen it before, and I startled her.
“I AM TAKING IT OUT. CALM YOUR FEATHERS.”

So that happened. I could show you how to clip your birds’ nails, which is honestly horrifying if you’re empathetic, because my girls are dramatic, so I won’t. Or you could give this Pedi-Perch an honest try – 78% 5* reviews.


Orders $49+ ship free and arrive in 1-2 days

The Honest Kitchen Wishes Dehydrated White Fish Filets Dog & Cat Treats #chewyinfluencer

Chewy let me choose Honest Kitchen Wishes to review for free on my male cats this month. I did not choose my finicky girls to try them because they don’t like fish. Too bad. We did have experience using Honest Kitchen Nice Mussels in the past, and the boys loved those so…

Here we go

Available in a three ounce bag, and made in the USA using human grade quality, wild-caught white fish.
And with a single ingredient of wild-caught fish, they’re loaded with protein and good-for-them omega-3 fatty acids. Finally, dogs and cats have something to agree on—so everyone’s wish has been granted!
They smell so fishy. If you’re sensitive to smells, this may be a little overwhelming, but my cats love them.

average filet is 1/2 oz

But, I’m finding conflicting information on calorie content and serving averages. This is discouraging for me because my boys have a weight problem. Yes, collectively. Tommy and Stewart are both on supervised diets. The back of the bag says “28kcal per average filet” but my kitchen scale says my filet was a half ounce, and the Chewy website says under Nutritional Info “28 kcal/half filet”.
I’m going to have to math to get a better answer, aren’t I?
Honest Kitchen Wishes bag also states “3,700 kcal per kg”.
104.9 calories per ounce? I have this feeling either my math is failing me (I took Introductory Algebra in college), my kitchen scale is in dire need of calibration, or that this is not a treat I can feed my boys on the regular.

I did check the Q&A submitted by pet parents to Chewy, but this is not already listed, and I’m not sure they can address it in black and white because product sizes vary by package. Maybe it turns out that I had a very dense fish filet.

Moving on – These are fairly easy to break into smaller pieces, but it was fun to give an entire filet to each of my boys despite the calorie concern. They had to work on their piece for 5-10 minutes before they could get it to break, and sometimes I would just take the slobber covered Wishes from them and crack them into 3 pieces. WE ARE TESTING FOR POSTERITY, AFTER ALL.

He doesn’t disagree with my methods

These are also available with the Autoship and Save discount of 5% on a regularly scheduled order
Honest Kitchen Wishes for dogs and cats CLICK HERE

All orders ship free at $49 and arrive in 1-2 days

Feed and Go automatic feeder – BUST

I’ve been thinking about writing this for awhile. Around the beginning of August, the CEO and his wife stopped answering requests for support. A few months earlier, they were dropping stock on Amazon for $99 a unit, down from the suggested $249. In August, they also removed their telephone number from their website. By the end of August, the product was no longer available on Amazon. By the end of August, my lovely mate Dismal decided to message the CEO on his LinkedIn account. Then Dismal was blocked.
There are a number of users that felt this was exactly the feeder they needed, and everyone is left high and dry. Some still had units in warranty, some have already had warranty claims over their time with the unit.
In a way, I got screwed. Dismal spent $500 purchasing two of these units in 2016. We had to replace the gear box on Tommy’s feeder in warranty. Stewart’s feeder never had 1 problem. In the last twelve months, Tom’s feeder kept going offline, so then I purchased one in April for $99. That unit was defective and when you would do the user request to advance by one feeding manually at the unit, the compartments would spin indefinitely, backwards. Huh. So I bought another one for $99 and returned the most recently purchased one.
Now Tommy’s feeder works fine, for being the third one he’s had, and yesterday morning…(sigh)… Stewart’s feeder required an exorcism and it just kept spinning and spinning compartments all on it’s own and wouldn’t stop until it was unplugged.
I waited a few minutes and plugged it back in. Holy mother it just kept spinning indefinitely. Unplug. Walk away. Call for help.
Who do you call for help when the manufacturer has ghosted everyone?
Dismal. My partner.

Hoping we could do a kludge, Tommy’s first defective unit was pulled out of storage and taken apart, as well as Stewart’s being taken apart, and we find that both boards are corroded in the exact same areas. The units weren’t sealed properly in manufacturing. This was the way they were designed.

Not one to be completely defeated, we have back up… sorta. We have two $60 Petsafe multi compartment auto feeders. The issue with these is that they run on D batteries. If you sync them at the beginning of the day, by the third feeding one of the feeders will slip, and go off on a delay that is just enough to create chaos with our two boys. Dismal has ordered the proper wiring to be delivered soon so that both units will run off 1 power supply and timer, instead of each unit independently, so the schedule will trigger at the exact same time.
That is if we don’t over stress the system by running two feeders to one power supply and they burn out.

Yesterday I had to start writing. I wrote the most eloquent letter I could to a major feline friendly company, asking were R&D were working on anything that I might be able to help with, that would fit this need. There is a proven niche by what happened with Feed and Go that cat Guardians like us exist, and will pay to have our needs met for our felines. They replied by the end of day about great ideas/suggestions, that nothing was in beta, but would forward it to the appropriate teams and then gave me a few products that they knew about that are already on the market, that have been working well for other Guardians around the company at their local office.

Still not exactly what I’m looking for. The product suggestions were a step above and beyond, and great customer service, but my boys get fed five times a day on a schedule, in sync, on a wet diet.

Then I was writing with another company that is actually a half hour from me, who has been working on a prototype, and we’ve been tossing around ideas and I’ve been getting more information on their feeder, trying to figure out if I can make it work for what we need.

I have checked Kickstarter again, and I need to scour through IndieGoGo. I spend about an hour a day on TheCatSite forums, either looking for more information or answering questions as I can. So many pet parents upset about the Feed and Go decline. If your feeder randomly goes offline, you don’t know that your pet didn’t get fed until you get back home. They had a system to notify you that the feeder had spun via text message or email, but that went down in July. Cats are missing their feedings for kidney food or medications, or parents were leaving home for the day to come back the next morning to very upset kitties.

I used to be just as thrilled as others when this was released and worked religiously. We were able to go to New York City for a day and see a Broadway show and get back at 4 in the morning and know the boys had been fed.

Right now I am feeding them 5 times a day in quiche dishes.

Feed and Go is NOT a member of the BBB, and all complaints are closed after company’s lack of response.

Making a list. Checking it twice.

It’s coming in just a few short months:
Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales

I need to stock up on my cat supplies like crazy. I’m already on the Dr. Elsey’s email list from their website, which tells me when either they are having a sale or when Chewy.com is having a sale. I hopexhopexhopex they run a special like they did last year where you can save 35%+ percent on cleanprotein. Now that the girls have tried a bunch more wet foods through trial and error, and through the Chewy Influencer program, I might be able to see what wet stuff I can stock them up on as well. If Petsmart runs a deal on Exquisicat litter, I will be set.

I also know for your small animals, there are always sales for Carefresh paper bedding. Keep an eye out for Petsmart, Petco, and DrsFosterSmith.com . The large bags of bedding are almost always half off. With 3 of my guinea pigs passing in the short time we’ve lived on the East Coast, I am still stocked up on CareFresh bedding. I’m managing my supply of hay and pellets well, but the girls decided they like to get cookies: Oxbow Vitamin C timothy hay tablets from their Natural Science line. Mom’s gotta watch for cookies this year.

I’m also going to be looking at bird litter, seagrass items, Zilla fruit and veggie dehydrated mix, Nutriberries.

Shopping for humans for the holidays is boring. My boyfriend is terrible at tracking a laser pointer, anyway.

My cat breaks into every microchip feeder we’ve tried

Tommy Gargoyle makes me nuts. I love him, but nothing is ever easy.

“oh… you need to feed separate diets? You should get a microchip feeder!”

Even I will say this to people on the cat forums as if it were a cure-all for the dilemma, but I will also weave them this brief tale of the Anomaly:

My bubba can break into any feeder. The audience is astounded. The vets are astounded. Apparently, this isn’t a widely seen issue?

We started with the GateFeeder in 2013. I would link you to the website, but it may be down permanently.

The concept is that the door on the front is held stationary by a little plastic post at the bottom that stays up to lock it, and when the microchip comes near, the post drops to open the door and allow access to the food dish inside. It’s even built to be able to keep wet food out more safely by having space underneath the metal dish for ice packs. The retail was $249.

What does my bubba do?

Tommy Gargoyle

He walks up next to a girl that is eating, and she slowly closes the door that was resting on her head while she ate. It doesn’t meet the latch. The girl didn’t finish her meal intentionally, but instead is confused why he’s in her personal space. IT DOESN’T LATCH UNLESS THEY PULL THEIR HEAD OUT QUICKLY ENOUGH.

Bubba…

Then a few years later, SureFlap launched a feeder. The SureFeed debuted at $149.99. My prayers have been answered.

Available on Chewy with RAVE reviews


Guess what?
Tom can eat out of this, too. It’s unreal:

He walks up on a girl eating, shoulder to shoulder, moves her out of the way, HOLDS THE FLAP OPEN WITH HIS HEAD AS IT’S CLOSING, and stuffs his face.

What?

What?

You are the most adorable bane I have ever met.

To fix this problem, we put up a gate. We installed a SureFlap on the gate. The girls have to walk through the gate, which locks immediately, then walk over to their SureFeed and eat while the boys are the previous room.
However, we just moved to a new house where it’s impossible to install a gate on the entrance to the kitchen.

Alright alright alright. I should have listened to Stacy. I just didn’t have the room! Stacy has PetsWeekly.com, and the product she had posted about years ago was the MeowSpace.

MeowSpace website
For the life of me, up until now, I had no room for an enclosure. Now, I do. So here I am, five years later, emailing the team at MeowSpace, because I already have a SureFlap door. Can they pre-cut the enclosure to my door? YES THEY CAN.

My original SureFlap. The one that keeps the Tom out.

Putting the house together after the move. Tucked it by the entertainment center.

Again, I cannot stress that this is not a solution for all cats. The original is kind of a tight squeeze. Princess Yue Pants doesn’t always pull her tail all the way, but if Tommy touches it, she pulls it right in and the SureFlap locks immediately. My girls are both around 10 lbs, so I can’t complain. Any larger, and I would say it’s too big for my lifestyle.

Amalie and Princess Yue Pants

But, if you have 13 lbs bubs that need to use the system, they have one for that too.
The dimensions are 38″L x 22″W x 20″H Custom Oversized Enclosure, where the original is 32.00 x 18.00 x 17.00 in.
We do keep our 5 lb pet scale on top of the enclosure or else Tommy will open the lid and climb inside.

Randemfy Adjustable Pet Safety Lead for your Harness and Car/Vehicle Seat Belt DOGS AND CATS

I’ve really been wanting to try one of these, and Randemfy provided me a set to check out for free. Here’s the link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07D7N5PV3

Some pets don’t do well to be crated. Some pets are larger, and it’s a bit ridiculous to try to hoist them with their crate into the car. Tommy Gargoyle gets car sick much easier when he’s crated, but I don’t like him walking around the car while I’m driving. This is a great idea. He’s already got a harness and leash, and with this lead, you can attach the harness to the seat belt. One end grabs your ring on the harness while the other end clicks directly into a standard seat belt buckle. It’s adjustable from 20.5 inches to 33 inches, so I don’t -quite- think it will work to allow Tommy to stay in his favorite place in the car… the floorboard. But, it’s a TWIN PACK, and you can take a pair of your furry kids on a car ride together!

I decided that since it was in the 90s this week with high humidity, we would use Caticorn with Princess Yue’s Pant’s colorful harness. It’s an “H” style with the ring located a mid-body. Caticorn was placed in the back seat with the lead completely adjusted to the longest length possible, and in the front seat with the lead adjusted much shorter.

Please do not attach this to your dog or cat collar directly. Use their appropriate harness or jacket for comfort and safety.
The adjustments you make to the lead’s length are very secure.
Made of high quality nylon fabric to ensure safety, features the solid zinc alloy swivel snap and metal buckles guarantee extra durability. The tab on the seat belt clip is 0.83 inch wide, which is compatible with most vehicles. Please make sure to check your buckle’s size and compatibility before ordering.

Planet Pleasures bird toys are now on Chewy #chewyinfluencer

So far there are 3 different offerings in multiple sizes on Chewy, and we had the chance to try out the Spiked Pinata Natural Bird Toy in Medium (for free) to see how our three green cheek conures would enjoy destroying it.

It took them a little while to warm up to it, but they weren’t afraid of it at all, which is great. On occasion I have given them an item, and they completely freak out. They had it approximately three weeks by the time I took the photos, and here’s what it started out as:

click me to go to the item page

And then our model, Idris:


FAMILY PHOTO:

The remains of the devastation:

Yes. Birds are messy.

Seagrass is usually their favorite, so this still exists in time and space, for the time being. But they really did enjoy it.
Add it to your shopping list, or try it out as a filler item to reach that $49 free 1-2 day shipping. It’s really quite an affordable piece to sacrifice to the feathered ones.