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My Pets on Vacation

Many of you know that I was going to take my pets on vacation last week. In fact, we went to South Dakota with our dog and cat. And just like last year, I’m going to share some highlights of this trip. The plan was to pick up the rental car Tuesday night around 5pm. But, unfortunately, the rental car company changed the time to 7pm. Sarah has martial arts Mondays and Tuesdays. So, by the time her class was done, and we picked up the car, it was ~ 8pm when we got home. Thus, it was too late to get Itty and Sophie accustomed to a different vehicle.

It would have been nice to let our fur babies explore the rental car. Though, that wasn’t an option. Therefore, when we left early last Wednesday morning, they were both super anxious. So, I pulled out all the guns: ThunderJackets, calming chews, Rescue Remedy, etc. However, nothing was helping. Sophie was barking non-stop, while trembling Itty was crawling over everything incessantly. We were maybe 30 minutes to an hour into our drive when we administered the sedatives to them both.

calico cat and black and white dog on person's lap in vehicle
This is after the sedatives took effect.

The sedatives took around half an hour to kick in. Although, after that, the drive was more peaceful for everybody. However, our pets weren’t completely knocked out, which was great. Sophie and Itty were simply much calmer and more relaxed. Regardless, every time we’d pull in to get gas or stop for food, Sophie would still bark. And then Itty would get up to look around. Nevertheless, I haven’t been able to cuddle my kitty so much since she was an itty bitty kitten. I have to admit, it was really special.

The medicine wore off after ~ 12 hours for both Itty and Sophie. Though, we didn’t bother giving them anymore. We just carried on, because there were only a few hours remaining till we made it to our destination. With all the potty breaks and snacks, it took 15-16 hours total to arrive in Hill City. Plus, Itty and Sophie didn’t get sick. However, I didn’t feel that great. I hypothesize it was a combination of sitting in the back, being a bumpy drive, and also the winding roads.

Our Airbnb was a cozy 2 bedroom 1 bath basement rental on 8 acres. Unfortunately it rained the entire time we were there. Thus, we didn’t get to do any hiking. And yes, I said 1 bathroom for 5 people. Yes, somehow we survived.

6 people posing for a picture in front of Mount Rushmore

Regrettably, it had been wet, gray, and cool our entire stay. As a result, the conditions were definitely not ideal to take Itty and Sophie on any outings. Pets aside, we visited Mount Rushmore in Keystone. And did a lot of shopping in Custer in the rain. Plus, we had wonderful food everywhere we went. In addition, we even toured a museum in Hill City. But the best part of this vacation was getting to spend time with my daughter, Rebekah.

I wouldn’t say Sophie and Itty were exactly comfortable in this home away from home setting. Sophie kept trying to simultaneously herd us and play with us. And after Itty smelled her surroundings, she mainly stayed hidden the whole time. Therefore, my thoughts never strayed too far from them. But especially so when we had to leave them in the Airbnb. I tried not worry, though it was difficult.

calico cat and black and white dog on a brown couch
This is when they were much younger.

For those of you new to my blog, you may be wondering why we don’t just board them. Or you might be asking why we brought them in the first place. When we had our last dog, Moses, we could, and did board him. Also, due to his temperament, our neighbors could watch him. Hence, he was never an issue to leave at home. Although, now we have around 40 birds, 2 cats, and a dog. But both Itty and Sophie were abandoned as babies. That’s how they came to us as well. As a result, they have major separation anxiety. While Sophie doesn’t like being separated from any of us, Itty has separation anxiety only with me. On account of this, we simply don’t board them.

Additionally, most of our neighbors are much older than Paul and me. Plus, there aren’t any kids older than Sarah; she’s 12. Otherwise I could hire a teenager to help out. Regardless, Itty got locked in a bedroom for 3 days without food, water, and her litter box last year. Furthermore, our neighbor who watched them last year, who also took care of our birds and Cake this time, fell and had to go to the ER twice. Thankfully, he didn’t fall at our house. And it was unrelated to us completely. Other than having to get stitches, he’s doing well. Though, for a time, our birds and Cake were on their own. FYI, the reason we didn’t take Cake with us is because she detests all other animals. She doesn’t mind people. In fact, she loves the people. But put her around another animal, and she’ll start a fight.

calico cat sleeping on a blanket

Given that we had another 15-16 hour drive back, we left at 6am Sunday morning. Prior to loading the car, we dispensed the sedatives to our fur babies. No use going through the struggle, only to have to do it anyway. Sadly, the ThunderJackets didn’t help. The Rescue Remedy did, but only in conjunction with the sedatives. Hopefully, over time, the Rescue Remedy will be enough on its own. However, the drive back was much better than the drive to South Dakota. And once we walked in the door of our house, both Sophie and Itty were totally at peace.

During our vacation, we were kept abreast of the home weather situation via our neighbors. As many of you know, we live in Oklahoma, tornado headquarters. Though, the last tornado to hit Blanchard was in 2011. Nevertheless, the homes in our neighborhood are ~30 years old or older. Despite this, there was still a ton of water. For instance, our coop was flooded. And that’s never happened. Plus, we lost a duck. We don’t know if she died; she’s just gone. Although, everyone else is accounted for.

5 people dressed up, posing for a picture in front of a yellow backdrop with one person wearing a cap and gown
So proud of my kids!

All in all we had a good time in South Dakota. We enjoyed visiting with family and seeing cool places. And I would love to say it wasn’t stressful at all with Sophie and Itty. But I would be lying. It just shows me we need to do more conditioning with them both. And we’ll do that by taking them on more short car trips till we build up to longer ones. Though, there is a silver lining to all of the stress on both parts. I feel like Itty and I are closer than we were before. For example, she sleeps closer to me than she did before, even during naps. Moreover, Paul feels like he and Sophie have a stronger bond than before. I know our pets were anxious about the trip, because I could see it in their behaviors. But I also know that they would much rather be with us than be left on their own.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope you enjoyed it. Do you take your fur baby on vacation with you? Or do you have someone you trust to watch them? Any advice on taking pets on vacation? I’d love it if you shared. I told my husband that the next vacation I wanted it to just be him and me; that the kids could watch all the pets. Plus, I’d love to go somewhere warmer. Maybe another beach trip. Please share this post. And if you don’t already, you can follow now. Thanks again!

All animals Extras non-fowl

Can Cats Have Anxiety and Depression

Six weeks ago I started working full-time to help out my office. But it will only be about 2 more weeks. Plus, my husband and I made a big decision somewhat recently. It’s something he’s brought up almost yearly. However, it was never the right time. So, due to various reasons, we put our house on the market. Therefore, soon we’re moving to East Texas. Thus, in the midst of all these changes, I wondered, can cats have anxiety and depression.

small brick house on land with Maple tree in front yard
Our house for sale

Once we put our house on the market, we had to clean our house on a daily basis, in case the realtor wanted to show it. I don’t think our house has ever been as immaculate as it is. Furthermore, there couldn’t be any signs of pets: no toys, no food or water bowls, and no pet toilets, aka litter boxes. And there could be absolutely no pet smells.

In addition to all of these daily adjustments to the pet accoutrements, my schedule altered from part-time to full-time. Whereas I once was home every afternoon, now I work everyday, all day long. And there was no slow transition. One day was normal, like any other. The next was something quite different; and it stayed different. Moreover, I haven’t had enough energy to give all of my time and attention to my fur baby.

Symptoms of an Anxious Cat

black and white photograph of a cat meowing
Photo by Lucas Pezeta on

The majority of animals, including cats, most certainly can suffer from anxiety and depression. Though, they don’t always present exactly the same way. You might have an anxious cat if they are

  • More aggressive than usual
  • Hissing more
  • More vocal, ie meowing more
  • Pacing
  • Have excessive mood changes
  • Perhaps fearful of leaving your side
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Failing to use the litter box
  • Hiding
  • Trying to escape
  • Lethargic
  • Experiencing a change in appetite and possibly weight as well
  • Having digestive issues like diarrhea
  • Over-grooming, which would end up in bald spots or sores
  • and are Vomiting

Symptoms of Depression in Cats

orange tabby sleeping on its paws
Photo by Pixabay on

Depression in cats isn’t due to a chemical change in their brains. But it’s usually a sign of a deeper problem. And some of the signs of depression in cats are similar to anxiety, as you’ll see. Signs of depression in cats include

  • Decreased appetite and no interest in treats
  • Loss of interest in playing with toys
  • Less interest in interacting with housemates or family members
  • Meowing more
  • Less interest in going outdoors, if allowed outside
  • Grooming less
  • Urinating more
  • Failure to use litter box
  • Excessive scratching
  • Crouched position with tail tucked and ears back
  • and Withdrawn: no head butting or kneading your lap

Elements that Influence Anxiety in Cats

Can Cats Have Anxiety and Depression
Photo by Helen on

There are a variety of things that can cause anxiety in cats, just as with people. In addition, some cats are more likely to have anxiety than others. For example, cats that weren’t socialized much are more likely to have anxiety as are traumatized kitties. Other possible causes of anxiety in cats include

  • Sickness or trauma
  • Separation anxiety
  • A traumatic experience, such as history of abuse, abandonment and natural disaster
  • Loud noises
  • Changes in the household, ie new members or change in a member of the household’s schedule
  • Unfamiliar people, animals, or environment
  • Cruelty from people
  • Being bullied by other pets
  • Car or plane rides
  • Being confined in a crate or a carrier
  • Not being socialized when young
  • Moving to a new home
  • Change to their routine
  • Boredom
  • and Dirty litter box

Factors that Contribute to Depression in Cats

black and white cat sitting on the floor with a pet recovery collar on its head
Photo by Dominika Roseclay on

Most of the causes of depression in cats are physical. Although, there are also some causes similar to anxiety in cats. And they deal with environmental stressors. Possible causes of depression in cats include

  • Environmental Stress

For example, grieving the loss of a loved one, either animal or human is an environmental stress. Or a change in the home environment, like being bullied by other cats or another pet is another instance of environmental stressors.

Moving is another example of environmental stress.

And change in the family’s schedule is also an example of environmental stress.

  • Change in Physical Health

Pain is an example of change in physical health. And many of the signs of pain in cats are similar to signs of depression and anxiety.

Another example of change in physical health is old age. Plus, it can go along with pain, because older cats tend to groom less.

Chronic illness is my last example of change in physical health. Just as with people, cats get depressed with chronic illness and pain. Just some of the chronic issues cats can get are asthma, cancer, IBD, diabetes, and kidney disease.

  • and Inadequate Nutrition

Both cats who are underweight and overweight are at risk for sickness and pain. And we already saw that chronic illness and pain lead to depression. So a nutritious diet is essential for a happy, healthy cat.

What You Can do for an Anxious Cat

two children playing with a white cat while sitting on a bed
Photo by cottonbro studio on

If your cat is showing symptoms of anxiety, they need to feel safe. So, it’s essential that you

  • don’t punish your kitty for being aggressive, or for any other unwanted actions.

All punishing your fur baby will do is exacerbate their anxiety and the undesirable behavior. In addition, you should think of your kitty as a baby.

  • talk baby-talk to your feline friend

Studies have demonstrated that cats like it when their owners use pet-directed speech, or what we would call baby-talk. Plus, utilizing pet-directed speech with your kitty nurtures your special bond with them.

  • keep a routine with feeding and playtime

Because cats are very prone to routine, any change on our end regarding their care could make them sick. A different study, published in the AVMA Journals, revealed that healthy cats exhibited ill health after familiar habits were altered. If you’re interested, you can find the study here.

  • include plenty of mental stimulation

Indoor cats can get bored easily. Thus, if they don’t have much mental stimulation, they’re susceptible to boredom-related and stress-relieving behaviors. But to avoid those unwanted actions, have lots of toys, perches, and cat scratching posts for your kitty. And don’t forget to make time to play with your cat.

  • clean the litter box daily

Most cats like a clean toilet, aka litter box. So, it’s ideal to clean it at least once a day. Additionally, refrain from moving your cat’s litter box, which would put added stress on your cat!

  • try calming cat pheromone products

I’ve tried the diffusers in the past when we got Cake, and I never noticed a difference. Meow Meow and Cake still didn’t like each other; and the diffusers didn’t seem to chill them out. But when Itty started displaying anxious and depressed symptoms, I decided to give the collars a try. And they work very well. However, that’s in addition to all of the other things I’m doing.

  • and reduce competition if you have multiple cats

The main ways to lessen competition between cats is to have multiple feeding and drinking stations, extra litter trays, extra hiding places, and plenty of toys. And be sure to space all of these items throughout your house.

What to do for a Depressed Cat

woman in white t-shirt holding a gray and white cat
Photo by Sam Lion on

First of all, I just want to say, this isn’t meant to take the place of veterinary advice. If you know your fur baby has a medical condition, if you suspect one, or have seen evidence of one, call the veterinarian. The following things are what I tried, since I know Itty’s symptoms were environmental–they began after I started working full-time and we put the house on the market. In addition, after a lot of effort on my part, she’s doing much better. Therefore, if your cat is depressed due to a change in his or her environment, you can

  • spend time with them

Research has shown that cats would much rather spend time with their owners than get treats or play alone with a toy.

When Itty first presented with symptoms, I still tried to play with her. Sometimes she was receptive. But it never lasted for long.

  • get a new toy

If your cat’s depression is due to boredom, getting a new interactive toy could be just the trick.

Again, I got Itty some new toys, a cat tree and scratching post, and more fuzz balls. While she loves a couple of the things I got her, she has yet to even approach the other.

  • offer new types of food

Sometimes even changing your cat’s food or litter could make them depressed. And if they aren’t eating as much, or no longer eating, try offering them wet food in tuna flavor. It has added moisture, and is generally better than kibble. I advise tuna simply because our cats love tuna flavor. But even the above mentioned research included food. And tuna was the favorite among felines.

Not too long ago classical music was the go-to choice when playing music for your pets. However, now, as more studies have been done, it makes sense that cats respond better to cat vocalizations.

I admit I hadn’t tried the music until a few weeks ago. When Itty and I started playing, it was how it’s been when she first had symptoms of anxiety and depression. She wasn’t all into it. But she amused me, because she loves me. However, when I put the cat-specific music on, it’s like she woke up. At first, she ran to my phone and sniffed it. She was clearly checking it out. And then she played with more energy than I’ve seen her play in a long time.

  • and offer calming pheromones

There are different ways the pheromones can be delivered: diffuser, spray, chews, or collars. I got the collar and the chews. Though, I waited until a couple weeks ago to try the chews. Itty was not impressed with the smell. At least she’s no longer wanting to eat anything and everything. So, we’ll most likely forego the chews, since she won’t touch them.

When to See the Vet

white cat being held by two people, while one person is using a stethoscope on the cat
Photo by Gustavo Fring on

Obviously any time our fur babies are acting out of the ordinary is a cause for concern. And it’s recommended that you call your vet. You absolutely want to rule out any physical causes for anxiety and depression.

Itty had her check-up a couple of weeks ago for vaccinations. Plus, I asked him about her panting when running across the room; not doing heavy play or exercise. Furthermore, I discussed the 13 hour trip we’re making to South Dakota with both her and Sophie in May. On our last vacation, we decided they were going with us on our next trip, since Itty got locked in a bedroom for 3 days. May will be busy. After about 5 or 6 weeks of all that I tried and suggested, Itty was back to herself. Though, not necessarily weight-wise.

Can Other Pets Get Anxiety and Depression

close up shot of black and white dog's nose

Yes, absolutely, other pets can get anxiety and depression. In fact, dogs get anxiety and depression for similar reasons as cats. Also, some breeds are more prone to anxiety, such as Australian Shepherds. Additionally, some signs are alike as well. Plus, chickens get anxious too. But for different reasons, like predators or overcrowding.

It seems like Itty and Sophie are a pet-match made in heaven. I’m so cued into Itty’s moods, because she’s my baby. Although, during Itty’s funk, I noticed Sophie seemed out of sorts. I’ve been at work most of the time the house was shown. Therefore, the pets had to be vacated as well as the people from our comfy abode. Hence, none of the pets enjoyed the days the house had to be shown to potential buyers. But especially Itty and Sophie. Whereas Itty showed symptoms of both anxiety and depression, I only saw symptoms of anxiety in Sophie. Though, Sophie would still play and eat. They just express themselves differently. While one is an introvert, the other is an extrovert.

I’m happy to say that our house got sold in only 2 weeks. Therefore, our babies didn’t have to deal with the craziness for too long. However, I’m still working full-time until May 1st. Then we go on a 5 or 6 day vacation before packing and moving. And the chickens have absolutely no idea what’s going on.

Can Cats have Anxiety and Depression?

person petting gray and white cat's face
Photo by Cats Coming on

We saw that cats can have anxiety and depression. Additionally, we learned that many things can trigger anxiety in cats, from moving their litter boxes to changing schedules. Plus, depression in cats has similar causes to anxiety in cats. However, it can also be caused by illness and pain. Besides ruling out a physical cause for anxiety and depression, there are many ways of helping our fur babies. The main one being spending time with them.

I appreciate you taking the time to read this post. Please comment and share. If you don’t already follow, please do so now.

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Guilt and Grief After Pet Loss

Today I’m not posting a recipe. Rather this is going to be about guilt and grief after pet loss. And if you follow my blog, you know the animals I have: chickens, ducks, cats, a guinea hen, and a dog. Also, I usually only post about issues and animals I’m familiar with. Or about issues I’ve witnessed personally. That being said, we lost Mabel, our dwarf lop eared rabbit on Monday.

I was absolutely not prepared for the amount of tears that I had initially, and that I still have. I thought I’d seen enough chickens die, since being a chicken owner, to have Mabel’s loss affect me so much. But inside animals are very different than outside animals. And they tug on our heart-strings much stronger. However, don’t get me wrong, we’ve had favorite birds that have passed. Davis recently did. I was almost tempted to cry, but again, I’ve seen too many chickens die. They either make it or they don’t. So we learned to get over it.

Our History with Mabel

Hannah bought Mabel as a Christmas present (last year) for Sarah, our 10 year old. But we didn’t actually receive Mabel until February of this year (2021). When we brought him home, he was very shy at first. He was acutely aware of his status as prey. Although not long after, maybe a week later, he was letting us approach him, without running off.

Soon Mabel was doing binkies. Binkies are special hops bunnies will do when they’re especially happy. And he used to do them all the time, in addition to exploring the house. Then we got him a friend named Ricky. We thought about breeding them, but quickly rejected this idea. This was before we knew Mabel was a boy bunny.

gray dwarf lop eared rabbit
Mabel humping Ricky.

Mabel was very aggressive toward Ricky; he would mount him continuously everyday, which is why we scheduled to have him fixed as soon as we did. Hence we discovered he was really a boy and not the girl we’d grown to love. Although we still loved him, even though we kept his name ‘Mabel’. We couldn’t change his name, because he knew it by then.

Well, post surgery, Mabel and Ricky started fighting. It was no longer just Mabel being dominant. Ricky started standing up for himself. Which sounded great at first, but then they both became miserable. I won’t post about all the details right now, but I promise I will later. So we instantly found a new home for Ricky, aware that Mabel was likely to be out of sorts for a while.

calico kitten sleeping with a gray dwarf lop eared rabbit
Poppy sleeping on Mabel.

Well, enter Itty Bitty Kitty or Poppy. She’s the kitten one of our neighbor’s brought to us after finding her in the middle of the road. She was about 5-6 weeks old, not old enough to be on her own. Given that, we took her in and cared for her. Which was like caring for a baby. So, she was growing up around Mabel. And she would get in his cage with him and take naps in there. Also, as she’d get bigger, she’d chase him. Or they’d chase each other.

Faint Changes in Mabel

This is about the time I started noticing small changes in Mabel. He didn’t seem depressed, like he just lost his bonded partner. For which I was very thankful. And I owe that to Poppy. I think she kept him busy. So both her presence and Mabel being able to freely explore the house, like he did before Ricky arrived, kept him distracted from Ricky’s absence. However he didn’t approach us like he used to. Also, he no longer did binkies.

Australian Shepherd

And then Sophie arrived. Sophie is an Aussie or Australian Shepherd. I have not yet written anything about her. Not for lack of content, because there’s plenty. But because I have so many other things in line. And probably not enough time. So Sophie came into our lives. My husband and daughters have been trying, nearly endlessly since Moses died, to get another dog. We’ve been scammed at least once. So beware of buying dogs on Facebook especially. That’s where we got scammed out of $300.

Well, a different neighbor helped someone they knew give up their dog. They’re an older couple, while Sophie is 7 months old. And they kindly ‘offered’ Sophie to us. We joke all the time now that they were scared she might eat them. Because she constantly chews on . . . furniture, clothes, shoes, people.

gray dwarf lop eared in shoe box under a bed
Mabel hiding under my bed.

Anyway, moving on. Mabel wasn’t depressed when Ricky left. But as Poppy got bigger, he’d stay under my bed. I’d reason he’s a nocturnal animal. Besides I could always lure him out with a piece of fruit or a Fig Newton. Then when Sophie came to live with us, I attempted to get my family to slowly introduce the members of our animal family. They only listened so much. After all, slowly can be interpreted differently to different people.

Well, Mabel hung out only in the living room as long as Sophie was in the house, I began noticing. I was definitely getting worried about my bunny. I would watch him, paying attention to his posture. Was he relaxed or stressed? But then he would go into another room, and my anxiety would be for nothing. At least it seemed that way.

gray dwarf lop eared rabbit lying on a floor
He’s lying in a relaxed position.

These little behavior changes in Mabel continued. Soon he was just eating, pooping, and sleeping. Sometimes I wondered if he was depressed by both Poppy and Sophie. I could point to both of their arrivals to when he started changing. But I consoled myself with the fact that he continued eating. As long as he was eating, I figured, everything must be fine.

So then I wondered if it had to do with getting him fixed. Most sites only list benefits to the changes brought about by sterilization. However I did come across one site where members had their rabbits fixed. And some members experienced similar issues, where their bunnies’ personalities changed from before they got sterilized. But maybe I was just grasping at straws.

The Day Mabel Died

I went to work Monday. And everything was as it always was before I left. I checked on Mabel, petted him, and talked to him. However when I went on lunch break, I checked my emails. And that’s when I knew Paul took an animal to the vet. Because I got a digital receipt. Therefore, I called him and asked about it.

I figured it would either be Poppy or Mabel, so I asked which of the 2 it was. He stalled, so I asked again. He told me it was Mabel. I asked him what happened to Mabel. And again, he stalled. Then I knew it had to be bad. I repeated my question. When someone starts out with an apology, there’s trouble. And that’s when he told me Mabel died.

young calico cat on the floor

He proceeded to tell me that Mabel had sepsis. Mabel apparently got an infection from Poppy playing with his ears. However bunnies don’t let you know anything is wrong in the same way that other animals do. They’re silent sufferers. And he was the first rabbit I ever had, so I didn’t know what to look for with everything else going on. I didn’t know if the changes in his personality were due to him losing his genitalia, his friend Ricky, or Poppy and Sophie living with us.

Paul blames himself, I blame myself. We both feel like terrible parents. And I know truly, deep inside, that no one learns anything unless they make mistakes and fail. But I loved Mabel, and I hate that he suffered while I wasn’t even aware of it. Until it was too late.

After grieving for a couple of days, I looked up info on sepsis and rabbits. And I learned that it happens very quickly, 1 to 2 weeks from onset of infection. So it isn’t likely the behavior changes, that he had for the 2 months Sophie’s been with us, were from infection. Because he would’ve been dead way before now. However I’m still sad. And I still feel guilty.

Dealing with Guilt and Grief

I know these are normal feelings. They’re natural, expected emotions for grief. Whether you’re grieving for a human loved-one, who passed away, or a fur baby, grief isn’t just limited to humans. Therefore, if you have pets, at some point you’ll face this too: the loss of a loving pet.

Why do we carry guilt after someone close to us dies? It’s easy to understand grief; we’re sad, and grieving is a normal process. However guilt doesn’t make sense, but we still do it. And we can justify our guilt. At least to ourselves. Granted, there are people out there who shouldn’t have animals, because they don’t care for them. Either through neglect or abuse. Although I’m not thinking about those people, who’ve lost a pet, when I think of guilt and pets.

couple with guilt and grief after pet loss
Photo by cottonbro on

I’m referring to regular pet lovers who have lost a pet through no fault of their own. Yet they blame themselves, because hindsight is 20/20. We should have known …. Fill in the dots. If we could all go back in time, none of us would have lost anyone we loved.

Even if your pet died from an accident, you still blame yourself. One of my favorite dogs, Roxy, was hit by a car and died several years ago. I felt guilty, because something inside of me that morning told me to put her in my bedroom. Then at lunch I got a call that repairmen came to our place, and when they opened the door, Roxy ran out. But instead of trying to call her to them, they chased her. And we lived close to a busy intersection; she died instantly.

symbols of justice and law on table of judge
Photo by Sora Shimazaki on

So naturally, I was guilty, because I didn’t listen to that inner prompting, telling me to lock her up. I didn’t know what was going to happen. And it wasn’t a strong feeling. But after she died, I could justify my feelings of guilt by how she died. And by the simple fact that she died that day. It was obviously my fault.

You can feel guilty and sad if your pet passed away from a long illness. And you can feel guilty about any of the myriad of things that come into your head about how you could have, should have, would have, etc, etc, etc. I have experienced those same thoughts and ideas with all of my pets that have died, including Davis, the chicken I didn’t cry over.

How to Survive Guilt and Grief After Pet Loss

One of the most common suggestions for surviving guilt and grief is to write a letter to your pet that passed away. It sounds extremely easy. And in the letter just explain your feelings: the sadness and guilt you carry. Furthermore, you can even write down why you have the guilt. Then when you’re done, you can burn it, releasing it all. Sure, you’ll still think of them. And you might still cry. But you won’t be shouldering the burden of guilt. Also, it doesn’t matter whether you believe your deceased fur baby can ‘hear’ you. All that matters is expressing your emotions instead of locking them up inside of you.

person writing a letter on table
Photo by cottonbro on

Most people who have lost pets don’t judge others who have lost their own furry friends. When we lose a loved one, we become our own judge and jury. I suppose that’s why we’re guilty in our own eyes. Even if there was nothing we could have done differently. Because there’s this need to explain the whys: Why did you die? Why couldn’t I say ‘goodbye’ one last time? Why wasn’t I home? Maybe he would still be here...

Also, there are pet loss support groups. Most of them are probably online now due to Covid. Though after reading a couple of entries, I’m not sure I’d be able to talk coherently in an in-person group anyway; the stories I read had me in blubbering tears. Of course, our rabbit did just pass away, so that’s fresh. But also, when you love animals, another person’s grief is contagious.

support group
Photo by SHVETS production on

The most important thing you can do for yourself when you lose a pet, though, is to forgive yourself. I am in no way agreeing with you that you are guilty, because I can’t say that. I, too, am suffering the same thing; have gone through the same issue with each pet that has died throughout the past, at least, 27 years. But no one else except me is blaming me for Mabel’s death. And nobody else but you is blaming you for your pet’s death as well. Which is why we need to forgive ourselves for what we perceive are our failures–how we failed our loved ones.

Healing from guilt over death will not be instantaneous, because healing takes time. Like all wounds. However it will happen. I can say that just writing this blog has helped immensely. For instance, I have been able to write today without crying at all. Even thinking about Mabel, looking at pictures, and talking about him are all bittersweet now, rather than painful. And compared to Monday, when I heard the news, it’s like night and day.

So to sum up, when we lose loved ones, we tend to blame ourselves. But we can get locked in a cycle of guilt and grief after pet loss. That is unless we do some things. Like writing our pet a letter and/or joining a support group. And lastly, forgiving ourselves.

Monday, after Paul told me that Mabel passed, initially I thought I didn’t want another bunny. However I was hurting, and I felt terrible. But I no longer feel like I don’t want another rabbit. Having Mabel was fun, he was a great bunny. And it was a great experience, up until he died. So I don’t want to never have that again. Although we will wait until Poppy and Sophie are older.

Thank you for stopping by. Please feel free to ask questions or leave a comment.

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Why is My Cat Eating My Hair

If you have cats, or have had cats, you’re probably familiar with their behaviors. They typically don’t like big groups, unlike dogs. But that doesn’t make them loners. And they often get a bad rap as being nasty. Again, compared to dogs. However I have yet to meet an unfriendly feline. Also cats do some pretty amazing things. And some pretty strange things. For instance, have you ever asked, why is my cat eating my hair? Well, today I explore some possible reasons, while also suggesting ways to discourage this behavior.

We added a new cat to our household around the end of May. Yet at the time I didn’t know she was going to end up being ours. A neighbor found her in the road and brought her to us. And I even included her in one of my cute animal posts. Since raising this kitten, I’ve learned so much more about cats. Some I already knew about, but others I’m just sort of learning at each stage. For example, my newest feline nibbles my hair when I sleep.

Certainly a hair-eating cat was something I had not witnessed before. I have two other cats, one that is much older, so she moves around a lot less. And the other one is ~ 2 years old. Otherwise Cake and Meow Meow act pretty alike. But no hair eating habits between them.

Calico kitten hiding in a closet of shoes
This is Poppy, the hair eating, aka grooming, culprit.

Reasons Why My Cat is Eating My Hair

  • Stress

The first possible explanation that your kitty is chewing on your hair is due to stress. Especially if it just started, (it’s new), or the frequency has increased. Cats, like people, will try different methods to calm themselves down. And eating or chewing on your hair could be a coping strategy.

  • Oral fixations

Another possibility is that your cat is self-soothing, not unlike thumb sucking in infants. It’s believed that cats that were weaned early start this behavior. If it’s an oral fixation, then it begins as self-soothing until it becomes a habit.

  • Play
tabby kittens playing on floral comforter
Photo by Pixabay on

This is especially true for kittens, who make playtime out of anything. And long hair is no exception. But your cat may also just want your attention.

  • Attraction

If your feline friend licks or chews your hair when you get out of the shower, then they might like your shampoo. Or whatever else you put on your hair. Like mousse or gel.

  • Medical condition

Additionally there are some medical conditions, like pica or thyroid issues, that could make cats eat or chew on human hair.

cats grooming each other
Photo by Francesco Ungaro on

In most cases your cat will simply be grooming you, because he or she considers you special. They’re marking you in one more way to let others know you belong to them. In the wild cats groom each other; typically this is a close family group. So when your cat eats your hair, it’s a sign of affection.

How to Discourage Your Cat from Eating Your Hair

  • First, determine why your kitten is eating your hair.
black cat kissing girls head
Photo by cottonbro on

Is stress the culprit? Did you recently move? Or possibly get a new pet? There are tons of reasons a cat could get stressed. Even though they’re considered predators, they’re small, and they know it. And they know there are threats out in the world to them. This is a great article to find out more about stress in cats if you’re not sure.

If you do find that stress is the factor, then depending on what’s causing the stress, will determine how you deal with it. So if you recently got a new animal, introduce them to each other slowly. Petsmart usually has great info on that. But if you moved recently, then make sure you have some toys from your old place. They need their familiar smells around them.

  • Now suppose your cat is attracted to the types of products you put in your hair, then switch to something citrus-y.

It’s believed that cats don’t like citrus, so you might try something with orange or lemon scent.

  • For self soothing, grooming, and play, you would pretty much do the same thing: either move away or redirect.
brown tabby cat wearing shower cap
Photo by Anna Shvets on

The only thing you can do in any of those 3 situations is move away from your kitty or re-direct or distract her. Self soothing is going to become a habit, so it needs to be stopped. And unless you want your cat playing or grooming your hair, you need to keep moving away from or getting a toy for your cat, until they get the idea. Which they will.

Another option, for if your cat is grooming your hair, (especially if it’s at night), is wearing a cap to sleep. I know, this doesn’t sound like a great idea! However it will save your hair while also allowing you to sleep. And in the long run, your kitten will learn he can’t get to your hair through the hair cap. Which means, he’ll eventually leave your hair alone. At least at night.

  • If, on the other hand, your cat eats your hair off the floor, this could indicate pica. Which is where cats eat non-food items. And it’s very dangerous. So if that’s what’s going on, or you’re not sure, then get an appointment with a veterinarian.

Most of the time cats will eat or chew hair out of affection. But there are definitely times they will get stressed, which could also trigger a hair eating episode. All that being said, I know my newest cat did it out of that pack mentality. She sleeps on my pillow. And after she grooms herself, she proceeds to eat my hair. AKA grooming.

Strands of hair on a counter
My hair that came out when I started combing it.

Initially I thought she just wanted to play with my ponytail, because every time I wore it to bed, she would start chewing on it. Or my hair. However a few weeks ago, when I pulled the ponytail out in the morning, some hair fell out. I started combing my hair, and 2 inch chunks of hair came out. (Thankfully I don’t have any bald spots.) And then I thought she just wanted my hair down, like a hairdresser. But now I’m really honored that she loves me so much to groom me. Although what is proper cat etiquette? Does she expect me to return the favor?

To sum up, there are a few reasons your cat would eat or chew on your hair. But the most common reason is he or she considers you one of them. (A cat.) So he/she is grooming you. Though if you’re not sure, you could always take your kitty to the vet for a check-up.

Thanks so much for stopping by! And please don’t hesitate to ask a question or leave a comment!

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Benefits of Spaying or Neutering Your Rabbit

There are a lot of health advantages to spaying or neutering rabbits. And this includes extending their life expectancy. But what are the other benefits of spaying or neutering your rabbit? Well, I’ll get to that in a minute. Spaying or neutering your pet refers to sterilization. Or making them infertile and incapable of reproduction. Terms like ‘having your pet fixed’ or ‘altered’ are the same as having them spayed or neutered. Males get neutered while females get spayed.

In addition, we’re all aware that veterinarians recommend getting our cats and dogs spayed or neutered. However you may not know that having your rabbit fixed is just as vital as having your dog or cat fixed.

person viewing media regarding an animal
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on

Health Benefits of Spaying Female Your Rabbit

  • Removes the potential for ovarian and uterine cancers. Additionally other uterine problems like pyometra are reduced as well. Pyometra is an infection of the reproductive tract.

The threat of uterine cancers escalates as rabbits mature. So it’s best to spay females before they reach 2 years old to minimize the risk.

  • Reduces the possibility of them getting mammary gland cancer and mastitis.

Just as in uterine cancers, age increases the risk of female rabbits getting mammary gland cancer. So an intact older female is more in danger for this type of cancer. Also, females have 8 mammary glands, which further adds to their risk of cancer and mastitis. But spaying greatly removes the likelihood that they’ll get either mammary gland cancer or mastitis.

Pseudopregnancies are false pregnancies. Which means the female rabbit will start showing signs of being pregnant. But without actually having a fetus in her uterus. And false pregnancies can happen even if there is only one intact female rabbit. By herself. While the only other factor is she hasn’t been spayed.

There are many different causes for UTIs. But spaying your rabbit can help decrease the odds of her getting one.

Health Benefits of Neutering Your Male Rabbit

  • Reduces the risk of testicular cancer.

Sometimes bucks, or males rabbits, get testicular cancer. However the male rabbit may not exhibit any signs of having a problem.

I know, interesting, right? One of the STDs rabbits can get is syphilis.

  • Also, neutering reduces the chances that your male rabbit will get UTIs if he is neutered.

Other Benefits of Spaying or Neutering Your Rabbit: Both Sexes

rabbits chasing each other
Photo by Anna Rye on

As you can see, there are many health incentives to having a rabbit fixed. And most of them involve the reproductive organs. Because most of the issues rabbits get tend to revolve around those organs.

Also, there are other advantages when spaying or neutering your rabbit. Which can be seen relationally. Furthermore, these benefits are common to both sexes.

  • Mitigates terrorizing behavior.

Both sexes can be aggressive to the opposite sex. And also to their own sex. Additionally typical hostile behavior includes biting, lunging, and mounting. But once rabbits hit sexual maturity, this behavior can be intractable.

And both males and females can still mount after getting fixed. So in this case, it’s not about procreation; it’s about dominance. But if the rabbits have been spayed or neutered, they’re less likely to get injured.

  • Spaying or neutering your rabbit will minimize the chances of either one marking their territory.

Both sexes mark their territories, which could include you or other animals, with urine. Although this is more common with male rabbits. And the habits of spraying are difficult to break after they hit maturity.

  • Makes litter training rabbits easier.

Until rabbits hit maturity, and everything that goes with it, you might have some success with potty training. However after that time, when rabbits are more interested in marking their territory and reproducing, your success will eventually wane. Therefore, spaying and neutering rabbits also helps the process of litter box training. So they don’t go to the bathroom all over your house.

  • Both sexes become easier to handle.

Prior to sexual maturity, rabbits are pretty easy to manage. But once they hit that magic age, all of that earlier handling disappears. Both males and females can become aggressive, even to their owners. Although spaying and neutering rabbits calms them back down. And makes it possible to bond with them.

  • Lastly, it prevents unwanted pregnancies.
baby bunnies
Photo by Thomas Mathew on

Many might think it would be sweet to have kittens (baby bunnies). However the likelihood that you would find homes for them is very small. Starting anywhere from 3-6 months, they’re fertile. And they can have numerous kittens per litter.

When to Spay or Neuter Your Rabbit

You should get your rabbit spayed or neutered before they develop any illnesses. Or problem behaviors. However, with that in mind, most people recommend around 4 to 6 months. But it’s best to establish a relationship with an exotic animal vet and ask them. That way they can see your rabbit and answer any questions you may have.

I hope you enjoyed this post, and that I answered any questions. And thanks for reading my post. As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to ask or comment.

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How to Tell the Gender of a Rabbit

Do you know how to tell the gender of a rabbit? You may or may not know how difficult it is to tell the gender of a rabbit when they’re young. A female rabbit is called a doe, while a male is referred to as a buck. And baby rabbits are called kittens, just like baby cats. Also, females hit maturity anywhere from 3 to 8 months. But it’s dependent on the rabbit’s breed. Further, smaller breeds mature faster than larger breeds.

How to Tell the Gender of a Rabbit

Kittens, or baby rabbits, don’t have any external indicators, like birds, to let you know if they’re male or female. Just like cats. And females and males can physically look alike. So how can you tell gender? The only way, it is reported, is by inspecting the genitals. So, in order to tell the gender of a rabbit

  • First, place the rabbit with his/her tummy up, in order to examine the genitals easily. However be gentle, because rabbits are prey animals. And they’re naturally scared.
Bunny on its back
Watercolor of bunny on its back, courtesy of Paul Smith

Get some help. But don’t pick the rabbit up. Instead, put it on a cushion or a low table to prevent any accidents if it tries to get away. Also, if the rabbit doesn’t cooperate by being face-up, then you can achieve similar results if it sits on its tail. Try not to let them kick. And don’t hold them by their ears.

*If you’re gendering a kitten, then wear rubber or latex gloves so you don’t pass on any diseases. Or your smell, which could cause the kitten’s mother to reject it. And when you’re finished inspecting the rabbit, let it go. They easily get stressed if held against their will.

  • When you’re ready, to know how to tell the gender of a rabbit, find the anus opening and genitals. In both females and males, the anus will be near the tail. If you have a female, as you follow the tail, near the abdomen, you’ll notice an oval hole. That’s the vulva, which indicates your rabbit is a female.
  • But in males, the opening is a little further from the anus. And there’s a clear separation. Also, the space is more spherical.

Some people recommend applying pressure on the surrounding edges of the hole to extrude the male rabbit’s member. However it could hurt him if you don’t know what you’re doing.

  • You can also check if you can see the testicles. A male rabbit’s should be easy to spot since they’re hairless and of a purple hue.

Some people claim that by examining the genitalia of rabbits, that females and males have very recognizable features on their bodies. Females are supposed to have V-shaped, or a mountaintop, appearance which can be sticking out some, while males have 2 oblong testicles above their genitalia.

gray dwarf lop eared bunny

However I don’t agree. It’s not always so cut and dry. Take, for instance, our first dwarf lop eared rabbit, Mabel. The breeder told us he was a female. And we grew to love our female lop. We spent months thinking he was a ‘she.’ But after we got Ricky, our 2nd dwarf lop, Mabel chased and harassed him all the time. So we decided to get them both fixed. Although, since Mabel was older, and he was causing problems, he would go first. Then it would be Ricky’s turn. And that was when we learned the truth about Mabel.

Hannah dropped Mabel off at the exotic animal vet. But not long after, she received a phone call, and was asked if they had the right bunny. And if so, did we still want them to proceed with Mabel’s alteration. She was momentarily confused. So they proceeded to explain that once the sedation was administered, Mabel’s testicles descended. Which meant that Mabel was never a ‘she.’ He was always a he.

We learned that this is actually common if a rabbit is scared. That they can actually hide their testicles. Or gender, if you will. So that if you look at the genitalia, when the rabbit is scared, then the male rabbit will be hard to distinguish from a female. Now we could have at any time checked Mabel ourselves, once he was relaxed and familiar with us, to see whether he was a female. But we trusted the word of the breeder. She was the one who did this for a living. Thus we figured she would know. And when it came to Ricky, she was spot on. I guess Mabel didn’t want anyone to ever know he was a boy.

Two dwarf lop eared bunnies on a tiled floor
Ricky and Mabel.

Obviously we were quite shocked by this discovery. And then we wondered if Ricky was in fact a female. We sort of hoped so. But after Mabel was home and healed, Ricky and Mabel started fighting. And fighting, with neither looking too happy about their situation. Which is a post for another day.

I hope this answered any questions you might have about how to tell the gender of a rabbit. But if you still aren’t sure about your rabbit, then you can always make an appointment with an exotic animal veterinarian. Especially if you get another rabbit.

And thanks for stopping by! Feel free to comment or ask questions.