A Day in the Life of a Zookeeper

A Day in the Life of a Zookeeper
Ever wonder what its like to share your world with a bunch of crazy critters? Tune in to find out!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

May Month in Review

May has been a whirlwind - I haven't done a great job of blogging this month...not sure why.  I am usually quite diligent about posting every day but this month I only managed to get in 22 posts.

The month started off with a sickly SteveIrwin.  So happy that little fish is still alive and kicking - he is quite the character.

We traveled to NYC and left the critters with the pet sitter - all went well.  My business travel this month was postponed - so thankful for that.  Healthwise everyone seems to be doing well - no issues to report.  Emma has been walking with us each day - we do about 35 miles a week.

Outside we are enjoying the plethora of birds, squirrels and bunnies.  My baby house finches are all grown up - as of this morning 2 had flown and there were two left in the nest.  Sad to see them go - but hopefully there will be another round of eggs and babies.  One year we had finches that had four families of babies in one summer.  I have my fingers crossed.

Violet, Finn, Clooney, Aggie, Zoey, Emma and Oliver all have renewal dates in June for their pet insurance - that means the clock is reset and they have allowances again for thyroid meds, etc.  The ferrets are scheduled for their regular check ups on 7/1 and the others will be getting scheduled soon... ah the joys of vetting 10 critters.

Hopefully June will be a better blogging month....

Friday, May 30, 2014

End of May Snaps

Holy heck - end of May????  Cripes!!  I was able to get almost everyone - Maddie was not participating in photo time for some reason.  I was not, however, able to get good shots of everyone. You see, I was not smart enough to charge the battery on the camera I usually use so I pulled out the backup - the one with the super slow shutter speed - not so great for taking pictures of wiggly ferrets...  so - here is the hodgepodge - both good and bad...

The handsome SteveIrwin

Zoey having a bite to eat

Finn - not sure why but I really like this one of him even though its blurry - its sort of artsy...

Probably my favorite of this bunch of pictures - Theo

Another one of Finn

Ollie cat - looking all debonair 

Clooney enjoying a stick

...and another Clooney shot - I love how he holds it with his foot

an aerial shot of SteveIrwin

Aggie laying on the dirty laundry - so glad I buy them pet beds....

Miss Phoebe posing pretty
Violet - the beauty queen

and last but not least - Emma with that panicked look she gets when the camera comes out

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Pet Product Review: Pimafix

We got SteveIrwin in late April and after a few days with us he started to go downhill - he was lethargic, not eating, losing his lovely long fins and his bright blue color.  I was not sure what to do so I tried Pimafix which is a broad spectrum antibiotic that treats fungal infections and bacterial infections.  I was not certain that he had either but I couldn't just wait for him to kick the bucket - had to try something....

His tank is only 3 gallons so I adjusted the dose accordingly.  I gave him the meds for 7 days as instructed and then did a 25% water change.  At that point SteveIrwin was on the mend but he was not well so he got a second round of seven days with a 25% water change.  After a couple of days I did a full water change which I do every week.

Since he finished his second round he seems just great - full of energy, engaged, active and he has a great appetite.  I think Pimafix did in fact fix him - so grateful as I have grown quite fond of the little blue dude....

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Bird Feeding Area

I have set up a bird feeding area in the yard this year.  Each day I make sure the birds have two kinds of song bird food, sunflower seeds, meal worms, nyjer, two kinds of suet, cardinal food and liquid nectar for the hummingbirds and the orioles.  I also have a birdbath that I try to keep filled up with clean fresh water - birds are messy creatures so they make the clean part tough.

As a result of spoiling them with all this food - I am being spoiled with lots of lovely visitors.  Its quite a wide variety of birds.  As you have seen from my posts - we have some house finches that have taken up residency on my porch.  I am so enjoying those babies!  I also found a nest of brown thrashers in the side yard.  I don't know if there are eggs or babies in there - its too high to find out - but its a good sized nest. Brown thrashers look like this:

In the trees behind our house we have a variety of residents.  We have a long established family of cardinals who have raised many offspring over the years.  We have an even longer established family of red headed woodpeckers and we have a lovely couple of doves who moved in last year and this year they had a baby dove who is hilarious and fearless!

We have two families of blue jays - not sure where they nest.  Lots of robins, grackles, mockingbirds and wrens.  We have orioles - at least we had them once - I have put the good stuff out for them and I hope they come back.  And - this year we have one of my favorites - golden finches - they are so pretty!!!

Oh - and lets not forget the squirrels - they love the bird feeding area - its like the squirrel equivalent of Golden Corral.  We also have an abundance of bunnies this year which I am enjoying as well.  I will try to capture some pictures of my outdoor aviary friends and post them over the course of the summer.....

Monday, May 26, 2014

Web Cam - Elephant Cam - Smithsonian National Zoo

They have set up another awesome web cam at the Smithsonian National Zoo.  In addition to watching baby panda Bao Bao and sometimes catching a glimpse of the baby lions on the lion cams now you can watch the three new elephants that recently arrived from the Calgary Zoo.

These babies have to stay in quarantine for 30 days to make sure they are ship shape to be introduced to the rest of the herd.  I love watching these intelligent creatures.  You should give it a look sometime:

You can read more about these three lovely ladies here:


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Saturday Follies

Today was a good critter day.  I am happy to report that everyone seems to be in good health and happy which makes the zookeeper happy as well.  Here are some updates - in size order this time:

SteveIrwin the betta fish - seems to be over whatever was ailing him.  He is active and interactive and always begging for food.  I put one of the ping pong balls that the ferrets play with in his tank.  It floats at the top and he was quite interested in the ball.  He pushed it around with his nose several times over the course of the afternoon.

Violet - my elusive ferret girl is just great.  She was up bright and early this morning and was out early this evening.  She wanted to share my water - they do love to drink out of a cup.  She and Madison were playing and she seems like she is doing quite well.

Madison - my sweet, kissy girl is fantastic.  She was even nice to Clooney today - she and Violet tend to gang up on him.  Madison is quite active and playful today and enjoyed some "girl talk" with Violet and some rough and tumble play time with Theo.

Finnegan - for some reason he was very spooked this morning - not sure what that was about but he was afraid of me, the critters, his own shadow.  This evening he came up on the bed and seemed to be just fine - his regular sweet and playful self.  After doing some Googling - perhaps the little dude had a bad dream.  Evidently - ferrets do that....

Clooney - my eldest ferret boy is fab!!  Today he was feeling quite frisky and helped me make the bed.  He was hopping around making the squeaky noise and he let me wrestle him which is a rare thing as he has gotten older.  Once the bed was made he curled up with me and took a nap while I read.

Theo - my big guy seems to be feeling great and is his usual antics causing self.  He was quite playful today and also quite affectionate.  He gives kisses - they hurt because he is so exuberant that he uses that little rough tongue to really really show how much he loves you!  He does pretty much everything with gusto - love him!!!

Ollie - my ornery boy is good.  He spent most of the day snoozing in the sun.  He gets quite upset that he is not allowed on the deck with Zoey but I can't let him out because he is a total runner and I would spend the whole day trying to chase him down.  He did spend some time with Clooney and Theo this afternoon - my boys hanging out together.....

Phoebe - she is doing quite well.  She has been playing with toys quite alot the last few days.  I have tried to let her on the deck - she is not a runner - but she is too apprehensive about the great outdoors to actually be brave enough to go out.  She and Ollie spent a good bit of time today wrestling and snoozing in the sun.

Zoey - she spent the bulk of the day on the deck and she loved it.  She seems to be in a great place health wise and she is really enjoying our spring weather.  It's funny - birds and lizards both visited the deck while she was out there - she has absolutely no interest....

Aggie - my eldest kitty girl is great - just a go with the flow cat.  She is sacked out on my pillow this evening snoring like a lumberjack.  Her health is quite stable and she seems quite active and content - no complaints.  She turns 17 next month...

Emma - little Miss is enjoying her summer haircut and her humans taking her on a 5 mile walk every day.  Unfortunately she is still scratching on the carpet - driving her humans a bit crazy.  She is sprawled on the bed at the moment - taking up as much room as a pup can take up - so spoiled.  Her little paws are moving - I wonder what she dreams about....

So - there you have it - a recap of the Saturday Follies....

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Theo Playing on the Porch

Today I let Theo out on the porch for a bit of exploration.  This was his first trip outside and he LOVED it!!  Now - keep in mind - our porch is sort of ferret proofed - we have chicken wire around the bottom so they can't get under the railings and I put the playpen across the opening so they can't get down the stairs and they are watched like a hawk by their mother (yes, me).

Clooney went out there too but he is an old pro....no snaps of him today but I did capture a few of Theo on his inaugural venture outside:

Looking to get the ferrets a sandbox to play in - so look for more outside pictures soon!!!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Four Kitty Post

We haven't done a four kitty update in a while.  I am happy to report that things are good in kitty land!  Seems like all four kitties are healthy and doing just great.

Phoebe - she has been hanging out with me a lot lately - and she has wanted to be lap kitty which is unusual but you aren't going to hear any complaints from me.  For the last 2 days she has been in pom pom heaven...you see, Theo the wonder ferret found a bag of pom poms in my craft supplies and got it open and then proceeded to spread pom poms all over the place.  Phoebe who is my toy kitty could not be happier.  Its funny to watch her play with one and then kick it aside to play with another - so many pom poms, so little time....

Oliver - my ornery boy is still ornery!  Wouldn't have it any other way.  He is so pushy and wants to be on me at all times.  I must say that this gets a bit trying at times.  Literally - I cannot be seated for five minutes without him wanting to be on me.  This includes booting off any ferret or cat who might already be on me... geez.  We have had lots of screen door open kind of weather which he thoroughly enjoys and I enjoyed yesterday when he decided to have a long conversation with a dove on the porch.  He was on the inside of the screen door and the dove was outside.  Ollie meowed at the dove and the dove cooed back.  This conversing went on for several minutes and then the dove hopped down the stairs and headed over to the bird food smorgasbord for a bite to eat.  I wonder what they were saying?

Zoey is doing great - she seems quite engaged and active.  Today in fact, I was a bad cat mommy and left her outside on the deck unattended while I went and ran errands.  Luckily she is my kitty with no desire to explore the great outdoors - she just laid under the table on the deck and soaked up the sunshine.  She came to the door and asked to be let in which was when I realized I had left her out for a couple of hours.  Very happy that she stayed put - she is my good girl...

And last but most certainly not least - my eldest girl Aggie.  She is doing so great.  No issues to report - she is just a happy, go with the flow kitty.  Aggs is on a people food quest these days.  It's quite funny - she never ever ate people food and now she wants a bite of everything you have.  If you forget to share she lets you know with either a loud mew or a little tap with her paw.  She is kinda choosy - she doesn't take everything you offer - but she does have the expectation you will offer and give her the option.  Love that old girl to pieces....

So there you have it - updates from the kitty world...

Monday, May 19, 2014

SteveIrwin's New Ball

Who buys a ball for a fish?  Me, that's who...

I like to change things up in SteveIrwin's tank every few weeks so he has new arrangements to explore and new area's to look at - after all - he is in a pretty tiny space with just a bit over 3 gallons of tank. I found this purple ball at the pet store - its was on sale for $4.99 and I figured he might like it because he spends a lot of time tucked between his heater and the side of the tank or nestled in his plant.  It's fascinating to watch how a fish brain works:

  • Ball get's put in the tank and first instinct is to scare it or kill it - whichever is necessary.  Fins go up in an aggressive stance and we show the ball who is boss around here.
  • Then since the ball is indifferent to us - we must be indifferent to the ball - he literally spent time ignoring the ball - swimming with his back to the ball - pretending it wasn't there.
  • After about 45 mins he decided to check out the outside of the ball - it was okay but inside the ball looked kinda scary so he spent a good bit of time swimming right outside each opening of the ball.
  • Then he decided to check out the inside of the ball - swimming through using all sorts of different combinations of the three openings - in the side and out the top, in the side and out the other side, in the top and out the side - he appeared to be having much fun.
  • At last - he settled in to hang out in his new spot - he seems to really like it which makes me happy!
He seems to be on the upswing healthwise - done with antibiotics and eating regularly.  Still cautiously optimistic - but he is a pretty stubborn little guy...so hopefully he will be with is for a good long while...

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Web Cam - Phoenix Zoo - Black Footed Ferret cam

I have featured the black footed ferret cam at the Phoenix Zoo previously - but if you aren't watching - now you have a great reason to:  baby black footed ferrets:

I captured this screenshot - you can just make out the tiny baby - it looks like a packing peanut close to mom's back foot:

It's fascinating to watch them together - you should really check them out:


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Birds, Birds, Birds

Its been a very bird intensive week this week.  First the craziness with the Jordan Lake eaglet and wondering if she is going to be okay.  It looks like she has made it to the Carolina Raptor Center and folks there are trying to fix up her injured right leg.  Fingers crossed she will be okay.

I have set up a bird area in the yard with feeders for seed, suet and hummingbird nectar.  We have had lots of activity this year - our multiple year visitors - doves, cardinals, red headed woodpeckers.  We have lots of new birds as well - a family of bluejays and lots of other birds that I need to look up in my bird book.

Last bird event for the weekend - I have seen a couple of house finches in and out of my fern I have hanging on the porch.  I thought today I would take a peek at their progress in building a nest.  Much to my surprise - they have not only built a nest but filled it up with babies.  There were four tiny fuzzy little finch babies sleeping away in there.  I immediately put the fern back on its hook. Tomorrow I will use the long stick I have to stabilize the pot by bungee cording it to the porch support - this will keep it from swaying in any wind storms that might happen before those little ones are ready to fly the nest.  So excited to have babies on the porch again - its been a couple of years...

Friday, May 16, 2014

Bath Critters

I love to soak in the tub - its a favorite thing I do to relax and it happens almost every day.  It used to be that my faithful kitty companion Isabel would keep me company - she would chase away any other critters who dared to come around.  When she passed away Phoebe was my bath kitty but since the baby ferrets came into the picture she is not as consistent.  You see - the baby ferrets like bath time - but they tend to wreak havoc.  They are faucet lickers and they knock things off the tub deck - sometimes into the tub causing a large splash.  Phoebe doesn't have the patience for those shenanigans.

As with most other things - the ferrets are busy bodies - up and down a zillion times.  Only Theo - my youngest boy - will lay on the side of the tub and wait for me - but only when I am not feeling well.  He is stuck like glue if he thinks I am sick.

In addition I have Emma who is the cleaner - she comes in after I get out of the tub and licks up any water that was splashed out.  So - bath time around here is not as relaxing as it once was - but I can honestly say I am never lonely.

Thursday, May 15, 2014


My sweet boy Finn came out to play this afternoon and let me capture a few snaps.

He is such a lovely boy - gentle and sweet.  He HATES to be in trouble and if he thinks he is he runs and hides.  He gets along with all the ferrets and tries to be friends with all the kitties.  He and Ollie are friends and some days he and Phoebe are as well.  Zoey and Aggie are lost causes.

Finn seems to be doing quite well since he bravely made it through his course of icky medicine.  He seems active and happy and healthy and I am quite pleased.

Monday, May 12, 2014

General Updates

You know - today was a fairly uneventful Monday for the critters and quite frankly - after the whirlwind that was last week I will take it!!

The kitties all seem quite happy and stable health wise.  They spent the day searching for sunny spots to lay in and giving themselves baths.  You know, I have always wondered why kitties bathe themselves so much...after all they just laid around and slept all day.  How dirty could they possibly be?

Emma is doing well.  I think she is quite happy to be home and have things back to normal.  She is quite the creature of habit.

The ferrets - I am happy to say that for the first time in quite some time everyone seems to be quite healthy.  The little boys seem to be great after their antibiotics.  Maddie is fully recovered from her tummy episode and Clooney and Violet both seem to be doing fantastic.  They are all active and interactive and I am loving that the three boys are playing and hanging out together without squabbling.

Last but not least - my sickly fishy friend SteveIrwin.  He is still hanging out and plugging along.  He doesn't seem to be getting better really - but he doesn't seem to be getting worse either.  I have done some research and they say that it can take a few weeks to get over some ailments for little fishies.  So - I keep his tank as sparkling clean as I can and make sure he is as comfy as possible and continue to give him fishy antibiotics.  Hopefully he will improve.  He is a cute and stubborn little fish....

So - there you have it - the general zoo updates.  Looking forward to a calmer week....

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Day in the Life of a Traveling Zookeeper - Day 5 - Home Again

So - here we are - back from the wilds of the city.  So happy to be home!!!  We have picked up the pooch and the zoo has been reunited.

When we returned we were greeted by all the kitties and Violet and Clooney.  Shortly thereafter - Theo.  I couldn't find Finn and Madison ANYWHERE.  I was looking and calling and couldn't find them and then I heard scratching.  Yep - the little weasels had climbed over a baby gate, wedged themselves in between the gate and the door, flattened themselves out and wriggled under the door to one of the upstairs rooms.  What rotten little children.  Because of  the baby gate they could not get out.  I think Maddie was in there for anywhere up to 36 hours - that was last time I had seen her on the cameras.  Finn - anywhere up to 18 hours or so.

Here is the lucky thing... I had never cleaned out Nigel's cage - I just haven't had the heart or the time or the energy to get to it.  I did notice that Theo had been playing in the cage a couple of weeks ago and thought to myself that I should change the water in there in case he drank it.  So I cleaned out the water dish and filled it up and put it back in the cage.  It just so happens that the room they were stuck in was the same room with a full dish of ferret food which was what Nigel ate and a full water dish.  Thank goodness.

So - here are my lessons learned.... make sure that every critter is seen on camera or seen by the pet sitter EVERY day.  If we are going to close the doors - ensure that a food and water station is set up in each room so that if they get in there somehow and can't get out they have food and water.  My preferred plan is to purchase additional cameras so that I can let them be free upstairs and can have a view into each room.

Both Finn and Maddie seem just fine - they have bright pink gums and they do not seem dehydrated when you pinch the skin to scruff them.  They are running around happy to be freed from their prison.   I am happy to find them both okay and oh so happy to be home with them...

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Day in the Life of a Traveling Zookeeper - Day 3 and Day 4

Decided to combine these 2 days because quite honestly they are pretty much the same - checking on critters via cameras, wondering where they are if you can't find them, hoping they are okay and laughing when you catch them in their antics.

I am thinking I might have to buy the ferrets collars of different colors.  While in person I have no issues telling them apart - from a distance on a somewhat grainy camera it can be tough.  Finn and Maddie look an awful lot alike as do Violet and Theo.  They will hate collars - might have to come up with another idea.

SteveIrwin the sickly fish made it through another couple of days and nights.  :)

Kitties - L A Z Y - and all present and accounted for...

Emma is doing well at my moms - its all good in critter land...

Friday, May 09, 2014

A Day in the Life of a Traveling Zookeeper - Day 2

I haven't been able to see the girl ferrets on the camera - this makes me stressed - where are they?  Did they weasel their way under the bedroom door and now they are trapped?  I can come up with 100 crazy things that could have happened....texted the pet sitter - if they aren't seen on camera - she will have to do the search party on her next visit.  UGH

Trying to catch SteveIrwin on the camera is proving difficult as well - he is not hanging around the top of the tank - must be hanging on the bottom somewhere.  UGH

Busy day of sightseeing, play viewing and eating yummy foods.  Now its ridiculously late or ridiculously early depending on how you look at it and I can't sleep.

I have seen Clooney and the little boys on the camera as well as all the kitties - waiting for the little girls to make an appearance.  Trying to convince myself that SteveIrwin the fish is still alive an kicking - haven't been able to find him for some time now as well....

UPDATE - after about an hour of watching - I finally saw the girls - hooray.  Both Violet and Maddie looked just fine and had a nice bite to eat and a drink of water before they went on about their business.  No search party necessary... And - I finally caught SteveIrwin as he flashed up to the surface for a quick breath - he seems good.

The moral of this story - the cameras can be fantastic when you can see what you want to - and maddening when you can't find who you are looking for....

Thursday, May 08, 2014

A Day in the Life of a Traveling Zookeeper - Day 1

Here it is - Day 1 of travel - the morning is filled with little finishing prep work and attendance taking before the last of the upstairs doors are closed.  Then its the mad rush to the airport, parking, getting through security and waiting...time goes so slow at an airport.

Our flight was quick and smooth and we started our NYC adventure.  The beauty of the cameras is that I can check in on my cell phone and keep track of all my furry babies.  I do this frequently over the course of the day.  It's quite easy to catch the kitties on camera because - well - don't tell them I said this - but they are quite lazy and I strategically placed the cameras to catch their favorite spots.

The ferrets are tougher to catch - they move quickly and rarely stay put for any length of time. Additionally - only Clooney likes to sleep out in the open - the others prefer to snuggle under a blanket making it tough to see them.  SteveIrwin the betta fish is making it easy on me - hanging out in his hammock or between the heater and the wall of his tank where I can find him.

Called mom to check in on Emma - she is doing well and enjoying time with her BFF Quincy.

So far so good...

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

A Day in the Life of a Traveling Zookeeper - Day 0

By the time you are reading this we will have gone and returned but I thought it might be interesting to capture what happens when we travel:

It's day zero - the day before traveling.  It's always a nightmare no matter how much I do ahead of time.  Traveling when you have 11 critters can be challenging.  Add to that a few additional factors that make this zookeeper just a tiny bit more stressed....

  1. Clooney is considered an elderly ferret now and if something goes wrong with him health wise he would need immediate attention.
  2. SteveIrwin the betta fish is on antibiotics and might go to fishy heaven while I am gone.
  3. Theo - my youngest ferret didn't finish his course of antibiotics - it was simply too stressful for him and I found it made him worse not better - but - what if he gets sick while I am gone?
  4. Finn - my middle boy ferret finished a 5 day course and seems to be just fine - but what if he has a relapse?
So - let's chat about the steps we take to make travel stress free.
  1. Emma goes to Grandma's rather than the kennel.  She has play time with Quincy - my parents dog and she goes for walks and gets people food treats from Grandpa and I can call and get a report on how she is doing any time I like.
  2. Cameras, cameras everywhere.  I am up to 6 wireless web cams that I station throughout the house.  My super techie hubby gets them all working and I can access a still shot from my cell phone and a live feed from my laptop.  I can check in on them whenever I like and its a great way to keep an eye on food and water levels and to take attendance to make sure the gang seems fine.
  3. An awesome neighbor at the ready.  My neighbor across the street is at the ready should I think something looks funky, someone looks sick, someone is unaccounted for, etc.  She has a key and can go in to take care of whatever I need.
  4. A super pet sitter.  My critters know her and love her and she knows how I am when I travel so she goes out of her way to make sure she finds as many critters as possible when she comes 2 times a day.
The list of preparations for travel is quite extensive in addition to getting all the humans ready to go:
  1. Set up and test cameras
  2. Fill up food and water stations - sometimes multiple stations if the duration of the trip is long
  3. Close down the upstairs - we make the critters stay downstairs when we travel - they don't love this part but it makes it much easier on the pet sitter when she comes in to check on them knowing they are confined to downstairs and it makes it easier for the neurotic zookeeper to find them on the cameras.
  4. Block open any doors that need to stay open - Phoebe the youngest kitty is notorious for closing herself and others in rooms with no access to food and water.
  5. Relocate ferret sleeping spots - since they have to sleep downstairs I try to make them comfy with their favorite beds and blankets.
  6. Create a chart for what to do when for the petsitter
  7. Make sure the kitties have enough medication on hand
  8. Put up the gate in front of the front door - with everyone downstairs getting in and out can be a challenge - we use the playpen as a gate to make it so the pet sitter can get in and out without help from the critters.
And last - let's talk logic - which in my brain I know but somehow stress and worry can get the best of me:
  1. Yes, Clooney is getting older but the reality is he is in fantastic health so I have no need to worry at this point.  If he should decline - I can always choose to board him at the vets office so he can have someone there to intervene should something happen.
  2. SteveIrwin - well - there is nothing to do for that...hope for the best and try not to stress.
  3. Theo and Finn - they are both fine - I know this....quit worrying!!
So - tomorrow we are off on a grand adventure and I know my furries will do great and I will enjoy watching them from afar....I will miss them though!!!

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Stem Cell Therapy in Cats: What you Need to Know

Interesting article I came across - I think I would do whatever I could do for my furries - even if the treatment was somewhat controversial.  If I thought it would help them I would likely try it....

What would you do if you knew a controversial treatment could use your cat's own body to heal itself? Would you take on the risk and expense, or would you opt for more traditional methods? 

Some cat owners have taken the former road with the development of stem cell therapy. This newly popular technique puts aside traditional surgery and medication in favor of small injections of your pet's own cells. Used to treat conditions such as arthritis and ligament injuries, stem cell treatment (also known as regenerative medicine) is filled with potential as well as contention.

How Does Stem Cell Therapy Work?

Regenerative medicine works around the principle that the bodies of organisms produce cells called stem cells. These cells are able to differentiate, or mature into a wide variety of other body cells depending on which tissues surround them. A stem cell can develop into muscle, nerves, bone, and other body tissues. 

How is Stem Cell Therapy Used?

When a cat suffers from an injury, the stem cells surrounding the injury differentiate and begin healing the body. For example, stem cells might mature into ligament cells to repair an injury from running. 

Living things contain two types of stem cells: embryonic stem cells, which are present in early-stage embryos and develop into organisms; and adult stem cells, which are present in the tissues of mature organisms. Adult stem cells do not harm the organism when removed and do not prevent further development in any way. It is these cells which are used in regenerative veterinary medicine. 

What's Involved in a Stem Cell Treatment?

During stem cell treatment, a trained veterinarian uses a small syringe to remove fatty tissue from an animal's abdomen or back. This tissue is then sent to a lab, where it is centrifuged (or spun) to isolate and extract the stem cells. The cells are returned and then injected back into the animal's body in the affected area. As the cells interact with damaged tissue, they mature into healthy cells which can repair damage or injury. 

Because it requires no extensive surgery, regenerative therapy is accompanied by a much shorter recovery period and less pain for the animal. Some owners report seeing improvement in their pet's condition less than 36 hours after treatment. Surplus stem cells can be frozen for future injections, eliminating the need for repeat extractions. Veterinary stem cell treatment has been approved by the FDA for orthopedic problems in tendons and ligaments, as well as bone fractures and arthritis.

The ease and comfort of regenerative medicine doesn't come cheaply, however. A single cycle of treatment can cost between $2000 and $4000, and requires a knowledgeable veterinarian to perform the procedure. (Many veterinarians consider regenerative medicine to be an offshoot of alternative medicine, limiting the number of doctors certified to practice it.) According to Vet-Stem, the California-based leader in veterinary stem cell therapy, around 20% of owners see no improvement in their pet after treatment. That other 80%, however, have seen their beloved pets heal with a minimum of trauma and pain in exchange for taking a chance. 

In just a few years, stem cell therapy has gone from a hot topic on news channels to an eagerly embraced therapy for canine illness. With the current trend in treatment comes the hope that some day soon a similar course of therapy will be approved for use in humans. Thousands of animals are living a happier and healthier life due to regenerative medicine, and the full possibilities of the technology still remain to be seen. 

source:  http://www.petplace.com/cats/stem-cell-therapy-in-cats-what-you-need-to-know/page1.aspx

Friday, May 02, 2014

April Recap, What's on Tap for May and Other Stuff

I just realized I never did a recap of the whirlwind that was April.

Miss Madison had us worried with a very upset tummy.  Luckily it was short lived and a quick trip to the vet and some antibiotics fixed her right up.  I think whatever she had, the little boys have as well.  They also made a trip to the vet and were given the same antibiotics...more on that later.  We celebrated Zoey's birthday in April - 11 years old - wow time does fly!  I set my worms free from the confines of the composter.  I checked their worm pile a couple of days ago and they really seem to be thriving.  Last we added SteveIrwin - our new betta to the family.  I think covers April.

The little boys - oh my how they hate that medicine.  I tried the honey and it makes it tolerable for Finn but poor Theo - he was getting so stressed out by the whole experience that I think he actually got worse, not better.  I made the official decision to take him off the antibiotics.  His outputs since he got over the green stress related poo are actually quite good so I am okay with this decision.  Finn has improved dramatically in the output department and since it doesn't completely wig him out to the medication I will continue the course til its done.

As for SteveIrwin the betta fish - I suspect he came to our zoo a bit under the weather.  His first day was not all that active.  Day 2 was better.  Day 3 the poor little guy was on death's door - honestly I did not expect him to make it through the night.  Day 4 - he is a trooper!  I went and picked up some broad spectrum medication that deals with both fungal and bacterial issues and put that in his water. He was far more active during Day 4 afternoon so I am cautiously optimistic.  Just in case - we said our long goodnight before we turned in.  And here we are on Day 5 - surprisingly enough SteveIrwin is still kicking around the tank.  He seems a bit more active and was snoozing on his hammock when I went to check him this morning.  Still cautiously optimistic - more antibiotics went in per the instructions....

Looking ahead to May - travel for the zookeeper which is always an adventure.  2 trips - one will require a pet sitter and one will require the hubs to act as the pet sitter.  Its also my birthday month - a good excuse to test the waters for a new baby.  I have been pitching a new ferret or a micro pig - neither is getting much traction....

I think that about covers it...so...Hello May!!!

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Outdoor Critters

Okay - not really - outdoor critters in my world don't exist yet.  My kitties are not outdoor, the ferret no and Emma is not a big fan of outside.  Outdoor critters in my definition would be our future cow, goats, micro pigs and chickens.  Someday...

I do, however, have 2 critters who are in love with the porch.  Clooney, my eldest ferret and Zoey the orange kitty.  Now - don't get me wrong - all the critters love to go on the porch but when you let them out there is a circus act trying to keep them all from escaping.  Not the case with Clooney and Zoey.  Both are content to be on the porch - they investigate, lay in the sun, watch the birds and the bugs go by and they don't have a pressing need to venture past the porch.  I would never leave them out there unattended and I am not saying they wouldn't go off the porch if given the opportunity, but they are different from the others as it is not a primary goal to get off the porch.

Clooney came out with me this morning while I watered plants - he checked out the porch and then laid down in the sun and waited for me to finish.  Then I opened the door and he came back in with me - such a well behaved boy.

As the summer rolls around I am thinking of getting the ferrets a sandbox and setting it up in their playpen.  They should have fun and since only Theo can escape I only have 1 critter to chase!  I will post some outside pics over the summer but for now - in honor of Throwback Thursday - some links to previous outside posts: