For some time now, because of various illnesses & special needs within the flock, I have padded the cage bottoms.
When Moriarty arrived, he came with the Ferplast Canto cage. Though he has officially moved into Dalai’s cage, he still has an attachment to his previous cage & is in & out of it during the day.
The folding cage was around for some time as an emergency hospital cage for Perry. As that cage can be folded & stored easily, I have converted Moriarty’s Canto into emergency hospital quarters instead. Part of the refurbishment involved padding the bottom. Quite by chance, I came across two unused cushions that I could roll up & squeeze through the small doors. These, wrapped in pillow cases, provide a lovely, thick, soft bottom. I topped this with a piece of oilcloth & initially with newspaper but now with kitchen towel.
Fortunately, Perry has only spent small amounts of time in there (aside from the odd moment he voluntarily goes in for a change of scenery).
This post is a slight departure from my usual posts.
I have an overriding question, that I have been unable to get a firm or satisfactory answer to, & that is, “Did Phineas get adequate care during his overnight stay at the veterinary hospital?”
Why can I not get an answer? It is my word against the hospital’s. All I need to know is what actually happened whilst Phineas was waiting for his delayed operation. Was he eating? Did he eat enough? Was he stressed or did he settle down? Was he being attended to? Did anybody care?
Phineas went from being absolutely doted on & adored, to effectively being abandoned (by me) for 24 hours, whilst he stayed overnight at the veterinary hospital because the priority of his operation was downgraded, hence it being put off until the following day. Personally, I will always regret not bringing him home as soon as I heard of the delay. I understand that things were not clear cut (i.e., initially being told the operation would be the next morning, not the next afternoon) & that I was advised it would be disruptive to bring him home & then back again, particularly as he had (allegedly) settled. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Had I really thought about it…… how could Phinny have been remotely ‘settled’ in a strange place away from all that he knew & loved?
Would he have survived the operation had he not been so stressed leading up to it?
If anyone reading this is in (or will be in) a similar situation where their bird needs to be kept overnight, I urge you to do all you can to make sure you feel confident your bird is genuinely comfortable. Do not just accept the words of a member of staff who is a stranger to the bird but question them until you are satisfied.
If any veterinarians or veterinarian staff are reading this, I would like to state, obvious though it seems, that birds require care and a skill set that is quite different from non-exotic pets, & the owner’s knowledge of their bird could help you greatly in administering the best care.
In memory of my beautiful friend, Phineas. I am so sorry… I will always regret not bringing you home that evening.
So Phineas was due to have surgery in the afternoon of the 6th September. I had left him at the hospital at around 14:30. At half past five, I still had not heard anything, so I rang the vets. I was told he had not had the surgery yet. It was possible it would not be done until the following day.
In a later phone call they suggested that he stay overnight at the hospital (free of charge) to minimise stress & he would be seen in the morning. I asked if I could visit him that evening but they said all their visiting rooms were booked. Because I could not see him, I rang several times to check he was okay. Each time, I was told he was settled & that he was ‘absolutely fine’. I cannot say that *I* was feeling ‘absolutely fine’. I was in bits.
The next morning, I was told he was ‘bright & happy’. I cannot say that even this comforted me as it did not sound like Phineas. I appreciate that strangers will not know him as I do, but *I* would have felt ‘bright & happy’ had they told me he was ‘grumpy & sulky’ – a far more normal description, particularly under the circumstances. They also told me that he would be seen at 1pm the earliest. So, another long wait…
I will not log the details of what happened next as they are still too upsetting for me to share. In short, during the surgery, Phineas went into cardiac arrest & they could not revive him.
It was several days before I could even discuss the surgery with the vet. It turned out to be very complicated. She was confident that Phineas had an aggressive cancerous growth that in turn had caused a hernia. It was not a relatively simple case of ‘removal of mass’ (as expected), because his abdominal contents had spilled out & were entwined in the growth. How my poor boy even functioned was a mystery. It is likely that had he survived the surgery, he would not have had long afterwards.
Right now, I find no comfort in anything. All I know is that he was in good spirits when I left him. I wish *I* had not left him. And I dearly wish he was still here. I know from experience that time will gradually heal these feelings…. but in the meantime, I am desperately sad & missing my wonderful little friend.
As previously reported (click here) Cagney was taken into hospital on the afternoon of Saturday 22nd August, specifically for a barium x-ray. This would entail an overnight stay.
I returned home from the vets, without Cagney, feeling wretched. I could not have felt worse. Actually, I did feel worse, when Bezukhov looked at me & saw that I had not brought home his best buddy. His expression was a mixture of confusion, betrayal & sadness.
I was undecided whether to let Bezukhov & Phineas out for a fly as I did not want to confuse things further. Plus, I was expecting to go out again later. In the end, Bezukhov was flying madly about the Manor so I relented & let him out. He immediately went over to Phinny’s cage to chat to him. In the meantime I waited for the phone call from Ms Exotic Hospital Vet (EHV).
She rang around 7pm that evening to say Cagney had had the first stage of the barium x-ray & the next part would not happen for another 4 hours so I could visit him anytime before then. I packed an overnight bag for him with his brand of seed, pellets, sugar snap peas & grated carrot. I also packed a water bottle & seed pot that fitted the travel cage. We (myself & my mother) arrived at the hospital around 20:30. We were shown into a visitors room whilst the nurse went to get Cagney. He looked very much the same but very, very sleepy. We talked to him & told him what Bezukhov & Phineas had been up to. He started to preen a little & then, much to our delight, ate some millet. I like to think that our visit was welcome. We had to leave eventually but as he was having treatment during the night I knew he was being looked after.
The next thing was to wait until the morning to hear how the tests went.
In the morning, I let Bezukhov out early. He seemed troubled to be in the Manor on his own & needed to be out. I also let Phineas out as he had spent the previous day locked up. Occasionally they have a little flirt (initiated by Bezukhov) but under normal circumstances it does not go far as Cagney investigates & interrupts proceedings (vice versa – if Cagney flirts with Phineas, Bezukhov interrupts). Without Cagney’s presence, the flirting was continued unhindered to the point that Bezukhov regurgitated to Phineas! Evidence shown in this video:
A vet rang later that morning to say that Cagney was doing well. The barium x-ray did not show up any obstruction. However, Cagney was now passing faeces. He had eaten a little & was preening. She suggested he have antibiotics & metacam (anti-inflammatory) to help bring his temperature down. I could pick him up that afternoon after a consultation with another vet.
It was a relief to see Cagney again. He looked well considering all he had been through. There were halved grapes pushed through the cage bars which was possibly another ordeal as grapes are scary. At the bottom of his cage was half a cherry tomato. That would have been the first time he has seen a tomato. There was a curly green leaf, possibly kale, too.
The vet confirmed that he is to take antibiotics daily & metacam orally once a day. They gave Cagney metacam when I was there which meant his next dose would be 24 hours later at 5pm. I said I prefer to give the medicine in the morning so they said it would be better to wait until the morning after. They suggested I book a follow-up visit with Ms EHV for the Tuesday.
Last week he generally seemed a bit off colour but I put that down to his moult:
On the Friday (21st August), he seemed to have lost his appetite. He was still eating but not as much. He seemed a bit wobbly on the perch. His poops were starting to look wrong too – mostly white. The pink bits in his feet were starting to go white. All these things reminded me of when I took him to the vet on the Easter Bank Holiday Monday (click here). At that time, it was thought he was suffering from his moult & he was given a vitamin injection & gradually improved over the following days. I thought that may be the problem this time.
The next day, Saturday (22nd August), Cagney’s overnight poops were definitely off. The pink bits in his feet were still pale. Worse than all that, he stopped eating. I offered him millet that he refused point blank to eat. Within minutes I was on the phone to the vet. Fortunately, Ms Exotic Hospital Vet (EHV) was working that afternoon so I booked him in.
When we arrived, we had to wait awhile as an emergency had come in – a dog that had been collapsing. The dog was to be sent to the hospital. Whilst waiting, I was saying to the receptionist how handy it was to have a 24 hour hospital…
Cagney’s turn finally came & Ms EHV gave him a thorough examination. He weighed 43g. The highest weight she had for him was 47g so she thought this was potentially a problem. His heart rate was very fast – too fast. His temperature was high. She said he was a ‘sick bird‘.
Because of his white poops, she feared he had an obstruction. (I forgot to say that he had also been constantly cleaning his vent area even though it appeared clean). She checked his vent (well, that is where the thermometer goes…) & said it looked clean. She could not feel any obstruction. She wanted him to have a barium x-ray to check his digestive tract. This would mean several x-ray’s over a number of hours & therefore at least a 24 hour stay in the hospital.
The thought of him being taken away scared me & all sorts of thoughts raced through my head. Ms EHV said that it was very important his temperature came down & I could take him home with me but he should have his temperature checked again the following day. Also, IF he had an obstruction of some kind it would need to be dealt with sooner rather than later. She repeated that he was a ‘sick bird ‘.
I gave her the go-ahead to take him to the hospital.
She said that she would personally start the x-ray process but then the night staff would take over. She would give me a ring that evening to let me know a good time to visit. Leaving the vet, without Cagney, damn near broke my heart, especially as I had told Bezukhov & Phineas that “Cagney will be back before you know it…”
In the last two weeks he has had at least 5 seizures. Seizures seems the most descriptive word for them, though it is not yet confirmed what it is. These ‘episodes’ last just a matter of seconds & then he is completely back to normal.
Starts initially with an alarming, loud screech
Head tilts back
Eyes open but vacant stare
Lasts for only seconds
Appears unaware of what has just happened & carries on as normal
On seeing these, I was reminded that he has had one or two before but I thought he had probably got a seed stuck in his throat & they were over so quickly that I thought nothing of it at the time, particularly as the gap between was so long (months/years).
It is worth noting that one of his ‘episodes’ occurred whilst he was fast asleep, head under wing. This seems to suggest they are not stress-related.
Yesterday (Saturday), Phineas presented me with a few things to worry about:
Firstly, on uncovering him in the morning, I scanned for his overnight poops but could not find any. I found that very puzzling. There is always a poop pile the next morning. Odd.
Secondly, when I offered Phinny an in-cage jiggy-jiggy, his bottom area felt different. Swollen. Softer.
Thirdly, when Phinny pooped during the day, they were abnormal. As you can see from the photos, they were a very murky yellowy colour. A few times he just pooped water.
Fourthly, when Phineas preened his bottom area, it looked a bit red. It is generally a little bald, due to his “bot rubs” but more pinky.
Fifthly, he slept a lot. He rarely sleeps during the day. When Cagney & Bezukhov are sleeping then he may, at a push, have a quick nap, but he certainly never sleeps if they are not sleeping.
So worry I did. Naturally, being the weekend, the vet’s was closed, although an emergency number is supplied. I found myself searching on the internet for other exotic vets (an avian vet is now like gold dust ’round these parts). I came across a veterinary hospital that has recently opened a new in-patients ward for exotics, & has its own vet with a special interest in exotics – reptiles & birds. What is more…. it is open on Sundays!
I spent a worrying night as Phinny did not sleep on his swing (another departure from the norm) but fortunately awoke this morning to find he had pooped & they were back to a more normal looking colour. He was also in good form & keen for an in-cage jiggy-jiggy. His bottom area still felt swollen.
Travel Cage – Tiny enclosure for transportation with no room to swing a cat. Only used twice.
Hospital Cage – Cozy dwelling, purpose built for hospitalisation. Can be converted into a mobile home.
The Ferplast – Modern style home. Horizontal bar styling. Light & airy with flat top ideal for roof play area. In need of refurbishment.
The Manor – Non-mini Manor, reminiscent of San Remo architecture. Large reception area that houses food and water. Basement ideal for eating poop. Trendy loft area converted into large open plan roosting area.
The Folding Cage – New build. Dark decor. Modern & portable design. Stylish doors that slide upwards.
The Folding cage is the latest acquisition. It is to replace the Ferplast that is showing signs of wear & tear, particularly on the bars. The Ferplast was the Puddings’ first home. They then upgraded to the Manor. The Toyboys spent their quarantine days in the Ferplast. Once both puddings & toyboys were settled into the Manor, I planned to dismantle the Ferplast but keep it as a spare. The reality is that it has been in constant use as a play area, chill out area, temporary naughty-step prison, separation/cool down space.