Grab your pooch and get ready to train!
Happy National Ferret Day!!
Ferrets are unique and interesting pets and right now we have 2 at the shelter. Wiggy and Ziggy are 2-year-old silver and white ferrets who were surrendered to the shelter at the end of March. To help you learn more about ferrets and what they look for in a family we interviewed them!
KK: Hi Guys, it’s so nice of you to sit down, err… hang out in your hammocks, and talk with us.
Wiggy: Hey there. It’s awesome to see you too! In addition to our regular care we really need 2-4 hours of exercise and interaction a day so this is great for our health as well as fun for us.
KK: So, to start why don’t you tell me about your set up here at the shelter?
Wiggy: Sure! We love the multi-level ferret cage we have here. It’s got hammocks, shelves and climby things, and toys for us.
Ziggy: No rubber toys!
Wiggy: Right Ziggy, no rubber toys! We chew on them and eat small pieces that we can choke on or that we could develop an intestinal obstruction from that could require surgery. Hard plastic toys are OK though as well as squeaky toys and cardboard. In fact, we can even be trained to come to the sound of a squeaky toy.
KK: Trained to come huh, that’s good to know. I hate to say it guys, but ferrets do have a bit of a reputation for being, well, messy.
KK: Yes, Ziggy, messy. Are you messy?
Wiggy: We’re like many other pets in that we like to play but we are also highly intelligent and can get into spaces others don’t. We can squeeze through really tiny holes to escape our enclosure and get into mischief. That may make us messy but it’s more about how well our families keep us occupied and ferret-proof our space. Covering potted plants for example makes it harder for us to dig in there and buying the right enclosure for us will keep us safe. Some people also put collars with bells on us so they can hear us when we’re exploring.
KK: I get that, but I was actually thinking more about the…other kind of messy.
KK: …Yeah. That.
Wiggy: Oh that! I won’t lie, ferrets can have a reputation for being both dirty and smelly but again, that has a lot to do with our living conditions. Here at the shelter we have a litter pan, did you know we can be litter box trained?
KK: Litter box trained? I did not know that. Easily like a cat or eventually like a guinea pig?
Wiggy: Not quite as easily as a cat but pretty fast. Remember, we’re super smart so the same strong brain that we use to get into mischief also helps us learn things like how to use the litter box easily and quickly.
Ziggy: In the box!
Wiggy: As for our famous and, if I may say so myself, alluring “ferret musk”, neutering your ferrets greatly reduces the smell. We’re both neutered, by the way.
Ziggy: The big snip!
KK: I see. We talked a bit about cats earlier. Do you get along with cats, dogs, or other pets?
Wiggy: That’s a great question so let me give you a detailed answer. First though, some background. Ferrets have been bred as both pets and as “vermin hunters” for centuries so it’s part of our instinctive nature to go after small animals like mice, guinea pigs, bunnies, and even pet birds. For that reason, you may not want a ferret of you have these other types of pets in your home. We are extremely social though and can get along well with cats and dogs and of course, with our other ferret friends.
Ziggy: Besties Forever!!
Wiggy: Yes Ziggy, you and I are a bonded pair. We’re besties forever and I wouldn’t dream of leaving the shelter without you.
KK: You two are so cute!! How long have you been together again?
Wiggy: We’re 2-year-old brothers so we’ve always been a family, but ferrets live an average of 6-10 years, so we have a lot of time left together.
KK: Love it! So, if you were bred to catch vermin what do you eat day to day? Pellets? Lettuce like a rabbit?
Wiggy: Not at all. We’re carnivores so we eat meat in the form of ferret food. It’s similar to cat food, nothing scary. For a treat we love a bit of cooked egg or some meat like chicken. Treats like that are rich for us though so only a little or we may get sick.
KK: That’s all great information. Is there anything else you’d like to add for our readers?
Ziggy: Just that while ferrets are highly social, intelligent, and inquisitive pets we do need more maintenance than a typical small animal, cat, or dog. We need regular human interaction and socialization, supervised exercise, and annual vet visits. With proper and consistent care however, we make highly rewarding pets.
Recently a generous donor gifted the Animal Protection Center with several animal DNA kits in an attempt to help some of our harder to adopt cats find homes. The donor’s thought was that knowing something about the breeds of the cats might entice enthusiasts to adopt. The shelter was shocked to discover however, that several rare breeds were among the current residents of the shelter!
“We were expecting to get a couple of Maine Coon mixes and we are pretty sure one was a Snowshoe Siamese type of breed,” says Executive director Kim Heise, “We weren’t expecting what we got though. Not at all.”
Among shelter resident cats tested were a Pygmy Lion, an Egyptian Sandbox Cat, and a Wakandan Micro-Panther. Heise explained that one of these in particular was the most exciting. “We were especially excited about the Micro-Panther because one hasn’t been confirmed in captivity since 1968 and they were suspected to be extinct. However, it turns out some guy in Oakland was hobby breeding them and passed them down to all of his family members across the country. Over time the story got lost and they were mistaken for regular black housecats, but the DNA test proves that they are actually very special.”
To see a full list of our adoptable cats and learn what rare breeds are currently available at the shelter please click the link below.
Kitten season is right around the corner and even though we don’t have any kittens yet we are getting ready for babies and the special things they need. Take a look at the list below and if you can help us we’d appreciate it!
Start shopping now at http://a.co/aKEGBE6
So we all know that you can’t get a dog license without having an up to date rabies vaccine certificate but cats don’t need to be licensed so do you really need to bother getting a vaccine? Let’s find out!
Edit: It is the law in Massachusetts to get your cat vaccinated for rabies however we want to educate people about why it’s important.
Most of us over a certain age were traumatized by Ol’ Yeller enough that we know the basics of rabies: foaming at the mouth, random attacking, growling and snarling, eventual death. But does anybody even get rabies any more? The good news is not often. While over 40,000 people in the US are treated for exposure to rabies each year there are only 1-3 human cases of confirmed and fatal rabies each year in the US. Pet-wise, only about 10% of rabies cases reported each year occur in pets. As long as you and your cat don’t live anywhere near the other 90% of animals that make up the rest of the rabies cases you should be OK. What are those animals, you ask?
So basically, if you live in New England or, you know, the world, you’d better keep reading.
I have an Indoor cat, that’s no problem for me!
This argument reminds me of the time my then-9 year old son was climbing up on a retaining wall. He was about 5 feet up walking along the edge when I said, “You’re gonna fall.”
“No I’m not!” he replied
Then he fell.
The point being that anyone who’s had indoor cats will tell you that it’s unrealistic to think they will never, ever escape. They’re cats. They’re going to decide to escape some day just to prove you’re not the boss of them. Then they’re going to sit down and take a bath 5 feet from you until you go to pick them up and then they will flounce away just out of your reach to sit down and bathe again. This is what they do.
OK fine. So my cat may escape someday. What’s the worst that could happen?
That’s a fair question. Here’s a possible scenario. Fluffy escapes one day. She’s gone for a bit and when she finally comes home she has a wound. You don’t know where it came from or how she got it but it’s kind of deep (maybe a bite? A scratch?) and you just don’t know so you need to get it checked out. You take Fluffy to the vet. Here’s where things get interesting.
If Fluffy has an up to date rabies vaccine the vet will treat the wound, give her a booster shot just to be safe, and send you both home. Maybe $100-ish? Maybe less? Depends on your vet but not the end of the world. You continue on with your lives.
If Fluffy doesn’t have an up to date vaccine the vet is required by law to put her in quarantine until it can be determined whether she’s carrying rabies. Rabies tends to incubate for awhile and if you can’t prove where the wound came from there is a possibility, no matter how remote, that she could have the disease it and transmit it for weeks before showing symptoms. What that means for Fluffy is a lengthy quarantine period with the vet (state rules for how long vary, some are 6 months) that you get to pay for. Now you’re talking about thousands of dollars. Oh, and if Fluffy scratched you or broke your or a family member’s skin in any way while you were checking her wound, bundling her into the carrier, etc… You get to join those 40,000 people who have to undergo preventative treatment. It’s series of shots. Not one. A series.
So trust us when we say that $25 for a rabies vaccine for your cat at our clinic on March 17th is really something you should do.