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Perching here and gathering my thoughts ...

Say Hello, Wave Goodbye

10 May 2009 ~ 17:24

That is the title of a song by Soft Cell, but appropriate to what has happened to us this weekend. For we had to say goodbye to our beloved girl Pancake. And a new girl, Roxy, has come into our lives.

Pancake wasn't eating Tuesday night, and we were worried about her, so we took her to the vets on Wednesday morning. I thought it could be pneumonia so I insisted on her being prescribed amoyxcillin in the form of banana-flavoured drops called Synulox. She was also treated with Metacam which reduces inflamation and increases appetite. (She did eat after this, which she of course needed to do to fight the infection). The vet said to give her 48 hours and if there was no improvement, to bring her back.

Like I say, on Wednesday night she ate, and on Thursday morning. But when I got home on Thursday night, she was once again not interested in food, and I woke Mark up to ask him to come with me to the vets to have her euthanised, because she looked so terrible. Her fur was staring, she was weak and seemed restless, and she had lost weight. Mark wanted to give her overnight to improve but I was convinced that had the meds been going to work, they would have done so by then. After a while though, Mark agreed that it was time to call it a day and started getting dressed.

However, as Mark got ready, Pancake went to her bowl of rice pops and milk and started to eat quite well, and I changed my mind. I thought that if she was eating, she was still fighting, and might still have a chance. However, she was weak, and was having trouble placing her front paws on the bars of the cage floor—they kept falling through. We had her out to cuddle and she allowed herself to be stroked and massaged, which she would not normally do.

The next morning Mark got up at 7am but I did not rise until the afternoon. Mark had told me at 7am that Pancake was sleeping. However, at 2pm he came in and told me that Pancake was dead. We felt her and she was cold. We realised that at 7am she had already been dead but Mark had failed to notice.

We are very upset because Pancake was only just over 1 year 2 months, and should have had several months of life left (rats live about two years). I also blamed myself, because a few weeks previously I had noticed a small lump in Pancake's upper breast. The vet said it was 90% likely to be benign, and then she had got rattly in the chest and we had decided against surgery. Now I'm wondering if it was in fact cancer that killed her, and I'm riddled with guilt that I should have opted to have the lump removed.

The fact does remain though that Pancake had been on treatment (Baytril) for sneezing for quite some time, and then on doxycycline (Ronaxan) for wheeziness. And when we found her dead, she had red stains on her face, which are signs of respiratory problems. I guess without a post mortem we will never know.

Angelina, Pancake's sister, was now on her own, which rats don't like, they prefer to have the company of their own kind. So we had to find a new companion for her.

Enter Roxy. I found Roxy on a website for rats which need rehoming. She is a champagne mismarked four month old girl whose sister died and left the owners no longer wanting her. So on Friday I travelled down to Polegate in East Sussex, to pick her up. When I got home, we put her in the spare cage and she explored it eagerly then barracaded herself into her 'igloo' with a blanket so she could sleep in privacy.

We have just introduced Angelina to Roxy in Roxy's cage and it went very well, no fighting at all. In fact, Angelina seemed more intent on exploring Roxy's cage than in interacting with Roxy. Fingers crossed that eventually they will move in together.

We are really missing Pancake, but Roxy seems a very friendly little rat who will be a lot of fun to love. She 'test' bites but doesn't hurt you, and though she squeaked when I first picked her up, she hasn't since. I'm sure she'll soon get used to being held.

R.I.P. Pancake 22nd February 2008 to 8th May 2009

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