How to care for 11 animals and not go crazy

After Stephanie asked how we manage all the animals with everything else we’ve got on, and we recently doubled our guinea pig population, I thought it was probably a good time to write about how the hell we care for all these animals without going crazy.

We have a routine

Back when we only had a few pets we’d clean them out when it seemed like a good idea, scoop poop when we remembered etc. It’s not good – so easy to accidentally miss a scooping and wake up to cat shit all over your floor because the highly clean moggies have got peed off at the poop mound in the corner of their tray. These days we have a specific daily routine:

DAILY AM:
– Karl feeds cats & scoops poop while I’m sorting the children’s breakfast
– After Karl has gone to work & Izz to nursery (when applicable) I go outside to check on the bunnies & piggies, top up hay and do any necessary spot-cleans of hutches and trays. If I’m going to be at home all day I let the rabbits out too.

DAILY PM:
– After the kids have gone to bed it’s fresh veg prep for the bunnies & piggies, another round of spot-cleans on hutches and trays (the rabbits are “litter” trained), fresh hay & water all round etc
– Once the outdoor animals are sorted it’s another round of cat food & poop scooping indoors

WEEKLY:
– Litter trays are emptied & scrubbed
– Hutches are emptied & scrubbed
– Water bowls and bottles are scrubbed

We keep on top of cleaning

See above: spot-cleans on hutches etc. It seems like it takes up a lot of time when you explain it, but when you do it twice a day it helps stop poop mounds building up and spreading. It takes a few minutes and is much more hygienic for the animals.

We work together

I sort food bowls while Karl sweeps or vice versa. I sort the kids while Karl sorts the cats. And so on… it’s all about team work. Although the division of labour in this house is definitely not 50/50, it’s certainly heading that way. I absolutely cannot abide the notion that women should be the ones doing all the housework and that applies to animal/pet related chores too. (Don’t get me started!)

We avoid ‘messy’ products

Last but not least, we try and avoid products that make our lives harder. For example, we use a great clumping litter which is a little pricier than most but means that we can scoop a pee out of the tray leaving just clean litter behind (and it doesn’t flick about the place as much as some litters).

For the outdoor animals, we’ve recently switched to ‘vet bed’ instead of woodshavings. Now we can sweep out the pigpig poos using a dustpan and brush, wee is absorbed through to an under layer of paper based litter and the guinea pigs stay clean and tray (same principle for the rabbit litter tray). It turns out that woodshavings are associated with respiratory issues too, so this was a good decision all round.

All that said, it really is just a case of getting off your arse and getting on with it. Actual pet-maintenance doesn’t take more than an hour a day which leaves lots more for cuddling the little furry buggers. :D

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4 comments so far

  1. Kya said:
    On November 27, 2013 at 9:48 am

    That is really great that you have it all on such a good schedule and having a ‘operation animal go’ team would make it work well. :D

    Reply
  2. Stephanie said:
    On November 27, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    Thanks for answering my question! I guess that when things are routine, they are completely natural.

    Reply
  3. Katy said:
    On November 27, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    another question then… what happens when you go on holiday?
    I assume your mum/etc comes round to play zookeeper, but that obviously won’t work for everyone. I know cats and dogs can go into kennels, but do similar things exist for smaller furry beasts?

    Reply
    • Jem said:
      On November 27, 2013 at 8:24 pm

      There’s a surprising amount of “bunny boarders” about that cater for indoor and outdoor rabbits, as well as guinea pigs, hamster etc. Although you’re right, when we go away either my mum comes up twice a day or my sister house-sits.

      Reply

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