Being An Animal Owner

Or a pet owner or the parent of a ‘fur baby’or ‘feather baby’ isn’t always easy.  It isn’t always cute pictures of cute babies or funny stories of their fur/feathered antics.

This week has been a hard one in our household.

In addition to Abby losing one of her little Easter Egger babies,  another of my chickens, a Rhode Island Red named Riley, and our house cat Rama, are also sick.

Rama is a six year old black and white “tuxedo cat” we adopted as a kitten from the SPCA.  He has never been sick before, so last month when he started randomly vomiting all over the place, it was a thing of great concern.  He spent a week in the vet and came home with antibiotics that didn’t help him. Two more trips to the vet later, we discovered that his intestines were completed blocked.   He had to have surgery, and the doctor removed a portion of his intestines.

He may or may not come home tomorrow.

The doctor sent some samples out to biopsied.   The mass that blocked his intestines may or may not be cancer.   We won’t know until later this week.

And then, there is poor Riley.

She was sickly this summer, when the heat was so bad.  But then she rebounded and was still laying eggs, until she started molting, so I didn’t think much about her being sick this summer.  She’s always been one of the tamer, calmer,quieter birds and in a flock as big a mine, I just figured she was lower in the pecking order than others.  She has always hung back,gotten food after the others, etc.

About mid-week last week, I noticed that she’s been hanging back more. Not acting remotely normal. Walking slower, not making noise.  Still eating, but not a lot.

Thursday night, she didn’t go into the coop with everyone else.  I found her outside in the dark and had to pick her up and carry her into the coop.  I put her the bed and that’s where I found her Saturday.

I decided to put her in the dog crate I use for broody breaking and quarantining, and did some asking on my favorite chicken forum to find out what I could do for her, given her symptoms.

This was Riley on Friday. I gave her scrambled eggs to eat,which she gobbled down and some water with vitamin B 12 to help boost her immune system.   A friend on my forum suggested Neomycin, thinking that it was a bacterial infection.

On Saturday morning, I let her out with the flock for sunshine while I cleaned her cage and freshened her food and water.  She was moving around, acting more perky,but still not like herself.  I gave her boiled eggs twice that day and she gobbled them down.

I was encouraged, hoping she might bounce back given a couple more days.

Over night, things changed drastically. Literally.

First, the temperatures dropped from the 60’s to the 30’s and it snowed.

This morning, Riley was standing up and I let her out in the barn, cleaned her cage, gave her fresh food with the Neomycin and vitamin B 12, and then I went about my day.  I’ve been checking in on the chickens frequently during the day, and have been saddened because Riley seems to be failing where yesterday she was not.

The barn itself is not cold. It was mid-forties tonight at lock up, but since Riley is ‘in quarantine’ she is not snuggling with the others.

I put her in our brooder box, with a heat lamp,but she isn’t eating, and I feel that she may not survive the morning.

I gave her a good cuddle tonight at bedtime, but my heart is heavy today.

MORNING UPDATE:   😦   I was right, she did pass in the night.  I expected as much, but it is still a sad thing. 😦



20 thoughts on “Being An Animal Owner

    1. Thank you! I hope so, too. We out so much of our hearts into our animals, it’s hard to see them suffering. Especially since they can’t just tell us in plain words where it hurts or what their symptoms are. At the end of the day, all we can hope for is knowing we did all we could do for that animal and that we conveyed our love for them every day of their lives.

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      1. Aw, I’m sorry to hear that… With chickens it’s really hard to know what the problem is and how to treat it! Poor hen. Keeping my fingers crossed for the kitty!

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    1. I hope so! It would really devastate the kids if anything happened to the kitty. They are going to be sad enough about Riley. She was a sweet and gentle mannered bird, so it’s sad to see her suffer and go. I know I did everything I could for her,and that I gave her love.


  1. I’m so sorry for your loss of lovely Riley! She looks so sad and hunched in the photos, it’s just horrible when they’re like that and you can’t save them. 😦 If only they came with their own instruction manuals. But no, we just have to do the best we can to guess what’s wrong and sometimes it’s just beyond us. It is very hard. It reminds me of my own losses. 😦 I hope things will get better and that your dear cat gets better soon.

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    1. Thank you!! She isn’t one of the ones I talk about a lot (other than earlier this spring when Pip had a crush on her), but then again, the quiet unassuming ones never are. But she was a sweet girl who listened when I spoke to her and would follow me around sometimes. Her presence will be missed in the coop and barnyard.

      Rama came home yesterday. He is sore but doing well so far. He has medicine I need to give him for pain and infection. Fun times ahead.

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  2. Being an animal parent is so hard sometimes! I had a bad year last year, so many losses, it was heartbreaking. Amongst them was a 2 year old ex battery hen named Cilla who behaved just like your Riley, she wouldn’t go in the coop at night. After 2 courses of antibiotics we decided that she was suffering too much and had to let her go. It took me some getting over, I’m used to counting the chickens so I know they’re all there and it shocked me every time ☹️️ The thing I’ve learned is that the more animals you keep, especially when breeding, the more often there will be illness or death, not that it makes it any easier but helps me know it’s not my fault.

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    1. Sorry to hear about Cilla. 😦 Growing up on the farm made me aware at an early age that animals die, even the favorites, so I was prepared for Riley, but I still miss her around the coop. I miss all the ones we have lost since we started raising chickens. Even all those rowdy, wild roosters from the first batch. Sometimes I watch the flock and think how different it is that there isn’t a virtual sea of white roosters every where. Just the one we kept to protect the girls. So I know what you mean when you say you miss Cilla. I have be extremely lucky, honestly. Aside some the ‘infant mortality’ with the chicks, I have only lost 1 hen (sadly one of our favorites) to predators and only three others to mishap (they used to cross the road before we built the The Fence . It took the 3rd one getting hit by a car to get my husband on board with the idea of a fence around the pasture. ). Riley was my only loss to illness. So far. So… yeah… lucky. I know that as my older flock ages, there will be more.

      But we take care of them, love them, and you’re right, it’s not anyone’s fault. I’d like to think that they knew we loved them to the end.

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  3. We’ve taken some hard losses too–and we keep so few. One in our first group succumbed to a prolapsed uterus. We began our present group with six, and lost three last summer. One of our drippers failed on a 113° day, and three of our girls collapsed from the heat. We felt so awful. . . .

    Thanks for visiting my blog; I’m glad to find yours!

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