AMA: Comprehensive list of animals (cat pics yay)

So, the first (proper) question in my recent ‘AMA’ was from Melissa, who asked:

Can you provide a comprehensive list of all your animals with names + types + breeds? And also how you manage your litter box organization! ^_^

Now, there should be a page for this, but every time I work on my ‘pets’ page, something dies or someone new comes along. 2016 has been particularly chaotic, in fact! Anyway, hopefully this post — dated and timestamped and all that jazz — will give you a rough run down of my animal population right now.

Cats

In order or when they arrived in our zoo…

Fudge

Fudge is a domestic shorthair, is 8 and a half (ish) years old and ‘top cat’ in the household since Hex passed away.

Tiny toes

Fudge in the bath

I ‘rescued’ Fudge in 2008 from a pretty awful situation (although looking back there’s lots I’d change about how I dealt with that).

Fudge went through a period of being incredibly subdued and shy, but having been given access to roam outdoors over the past couple of years he’s really come out of his shell and loves a good fuss.

Crumble

Crumble is a domestic shorthair, approx 6.5 years old and is mostly ‘owned’ by Isabel who considers Crumble her cat. I resisted the urge to adopt Crumble back in 2010 for about 2 weeks before finally caving.

Checking out the baby playmat

Wrestling Fudge

crumble

Crumble is a simple cat, content to spend most of her life curled up in a chair. She likes to sit with us of an evening and chirps like a canary if you fuss her enough.

Ripley

Ripley is a bloody expensive cat, AKA British Shorthair. She’s approx 15 months old. She is Gaz’s cat, bought for him last Christmas, and is easily the biggest pain out of all my animals. She has no tolerance for cheaper cat foods (can you blame her?) which give her the runs, so we had to switch all the cats to a more expensive food last year. She demands attention all day, eats more than any cat I’ve ever met and won’t let you empty the dishwasher without sitting right in the middle of the open door, getting in the way in the process.

ripley-on-jem

ripley-in-sunshine

That said, she is one of the most laid back cats I’ve ever owned, and loves everyone and everything, even the guinea pigs. She’s playing an important role in ‘mothering’ our latest addition, but more on him shortly. She’s fat, furry and incredibly affectionate.

Pixel

Pixel is roughly 18 months – 2 years old. We’re not entirely sure, because she’s a rescued stray, adopted from Shropshire Cat Rescue where I spend my Tuesdays. She’s a domestic shorthair like Fudge and Crumble.

pixel-kisses

Pixel is one of the biggest feline challenges I’ve ever approached. I brought her home because she was ‘red carded’ at the rescue for her aggression and was destined to become a farm cat living out her days on someone’s land. I didn’t think this was necessary, as she’d been incredibly affectionate with me, and offered to try and integrate her here.

pixel-on-me

We’ve had our ups and downs. She hides a lot, and doesn’t really like Fudge (because he’s tried to enforce the existing hierarchy and she doesn’t like that at all) but has on occasion played with Ripley. She has been bitey with both Gaz and I on numerous occasions, usually because she’s scared or over-stimulated. We have to be incredibly careful to watch all her body language for signs that she’s had enough fuss. She’s also the only cat I’ve ever owned who refuses to eat wet cat food.

With all that said, she ‘kisses’ like Hex used to, and can be friendly on her terms. I’m hoping that with time and patience she will fully integrate and be happy here, but I re-assess on a weekly basis.

Montgomery (Monty)

And here we have the latest of the purry bunch: Monty (probable domestic shorthair).

Monty is estimated at approximately 4 weeks old, but weighing just 292g when I brought him home on Monday 21st. He was found abandoned in a hedge in a town near Wales and was brought to a nearby vets who re-homed him with me via a friend of a friend.

monty

Monty is all ‘skin and bones’, and is currently receiving the kind of attention you’d expect to give a newborn baby! He’s on supplemental milk feeds (specialist ‘babycat formula’) and regular small feedings of high quality wet kitten food to boost his weight. He sleeps in a small blue fleece hat, on a fleece blanket, inside the carrier I brought him home, in front of he radiator to keep him warm.

ripley-and-monty-playing

Ripley has taken an instant shine to Monty and plays with him, follows him round, responds to his cries with what seems like concern and sits ‘guard’ overnight while he sleeps. I hope this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship between them.

ripley-and-monty

The cats all eat James Wellbeloved and Wainwrights wet/dry food.

Guinea Pigs

We’ve had a recent explosion in our guinea pig population. Earlier on in the year we had 3: Tango and Sprite, a neutered male / female pair, and Spot (my famous guinea pig) the remaining pig from an un-neutered male pair.

spot guinea pig

Long story short, Spot and Sprite had an unintentional pregnancy and we now have 7 guinea pigs: the 3 adults, as well as Mabel (m), Badger (f), George (f) and Pepper (f). Spot has since been neutered and is currently living with Mabel, but once Mabel is old enough to be neutered I hope to reintroduce everypig into a large group.

guinea-pig-family

The guinea pigs have a diet mainly based on hay and readigrass (dried grass) as well as small amounts of veg every day or so and dry nuggets (Supreme Science Selective).

Rabbits

Peanut (tan coloured) and Sagittarius A* are both, oddly, from Shropshire Cat Rescue. I’m not entirely sure of the ages or breeds of either but they make a great pairing, which surprised me as Peanut is a grumpy bugger and their initial introductions weren’t positive.

peanut-and-saggi-rabbits

They live free range in my utility, with a cage as their ‘home base’, and all-day access to the garden on dry days.

The rabbits also have a diet mainly based on hay and readigrass, small amounts of veg every other day and dry nuggets (Supreme Science Selective).

Poops, Pees and Litterbox Fun

With a population of animals this large, poop is obviously a big part of my day to day life.

The cats currently have four litter trays between them, although this may increase with the addition of Monty. We have two covered trays in the bathroom, one uncovered tray in the utility (which the rabbits occasionally use too) and one outside in the sheltered cat run.

However, all is not perfect and we get the occasional cat leaving us a present behind the sofa or outside the tray to express indignation: often with a new arrival, or if I’ve dared leave another poop in the tray for longer than a few hours.

The rabbits mostly poo in a tray in their (always open) cage or all over my utility floor, which is at least concrete and easily cleaned. Despite having managed to perfectly litter train my previous rabbits these two are a little stubborn and would rather have me chase poo nuggets round the place.

Guinea pigs poo wherever they damn well please and their hutches have to be cleaned out regularly.

So boys and girls, there you have it. A comprehensive list of my current animals and details on litter boxes and poop. If you’d like to ask me a question, drop it in a comment on AMA.

Rabbits, half marathons, fitness & weddings

Holy crap, it feels like I basically haven’t stopped doing stuff lately. I’d blame that for my inconsistent blogging but we all know that’s been an issue for many years, so I’ll cut to the chase and get you up to speed on the funky biz that’s happening in my life at the moment…

The wabbit

I brought Peanut home and within 3 days I’d got him eating better food (science selective nuggets – best commercial rabbit food you can buy), more hay, and as I type this he’s on the lawn grazing on grass and clover. He is still nervous about being approached, and isn’t too keen on the resident guinea pigs, but I did manage to get a couple of strokes yesterday before he binky-ed off.

peanut-rabbit

Half marathon

On Wednesday, I completed the “May the 4th Be With You” trail half marathon: 13.1 miles up and down the beautiful hills of Church Stretton in Shropshire. Ascending more than 2000ft, this was perhaps both the most challenging and yet most enjoyable race I’ve ever taken part in. It was a fabulous day (the weather was really on our side) and the company of some fellow Broseley Joggers made it a fantastic experience all in. We finished in 3 hours 21 minutes officially, although had stopped to take pictures and enjoy the snacks at the water station, so actual moving time was more like 3 hours 10.

half-marathon-medal

Fitness bits

I’ve been LOVING going to the gym, having fit in an upper body session this morning (resting my legs after Wednesday / got a 10k on Sunday!) I’ve been visiting twice a week most weeks since the beginning of April now. I’ve not had any issues with dudebros, people are always happy to answer questions and will let you step in without a second thought. Nobody has made me feel unwelcome or inferior because I’m a relative n00b (and female; although this causes the odd double take).

As well as the gym, Gaz and I have recently signed up to ongoing taekwon-do sessions having participated in a cheap trial month. We’re both approaching our first assessment thingymabob to go up a belt, which is strangely intimidating and yet should be fairly easy.

Wedding bells

In less than two weeks time Gaz and I will be married. I’ve finally found a simple wedding ring I like (two, actually.. don’t ask) and everything else is sorted. Not that there was much to sort for the wedding, because it’s literally going to be a case of turn up, say I do, go eat pizza. WINNING.

The wedding party was slightly more complex to organise but even then: food, booze, people, music. Bob’s your uncle, etc. I’ll tell you more about that after the event, of course.

Of course, I genuinely can’t believe that this is actually happening. I thought Gaz would have got bored / fed up with me long before this point. He’s clearly mad.

But then… aren’t we all?

I’m 30 and nothing’s different

Well howdy. It somehow got to January 20th without me noticing. Funny how this time-passing-by thing works.

I turned 30 in style, partying the night away with some of my favourite people. I even took two dresses to my party because I am that awesome. Came away with a car boot-full of presents too, which made me cry on more than one occasion. Apparently I get soppier as I get older.

Turning 30 has not given me a greater wisdom, sudden grown-up super powers or anything of that sort (which I’d kinda hoped for). Indeed, I still spent most of last Thursday in bed pretending I wasn’t an adult with Responsibilities until I remembered I had to take Bramble (MEGABUN) to the vet for his post-neuter check-up. That reminds me, I really need to finish my Pets section.

The neutering went well, which will probably mean he ends up with a girlfriend-bunny at some point. Preparing for “I told you so”s in 3, 2, 1…

This year is already starting to look like a busy one, with vague wedding stuff being planned. Much to the disappointment of certain people Gaz and I are planning a “run away and do it in secret” style wedding. No fuss, minimal expense, just us and the legally required amount of witnesses who may or may not be dragged in off the street beforehand. I’m not sure I could deal with anything else, it’s not my cup of tea.

On a similarly personal note, I’ve an appointment for the end of the month to speak to my doctor about sterilisation. My hormones have been in overdrive lately which is making me super broody, but the reality is another child would be a massive physical, emotional and financial load which I just wouldn’t be able to deal with. Feeds weird to think I’ll never carry, birth and feed a tiny baby ever again but taking the pill is a pain in the arse (despite some minor benefits for my probable PMDD), and with Gaz’s total lack of desire for kids of his own, it just makes sense. I have two beautiful, smart as hell, pain in the arse kids and that’s more than enough.

Enter title here

Feel like I should blog to record some of the stuff that’s been going on lately but I’m struggling to formulate intelligent sentences. Fall back to list format!

  • I came home on October 22nd to find Flymo dead and Rosie missing. I can only guess but I assume something managed to get into the garden. There was no visible marks on Flymo or signs of a scuffle but if he was shocked sufficiently it could have killed him.
  • On November 4th I got home to find that Little Pig had escaped his run and is also missing.
  • My foot is only just this week starting to feel any better, so I’ve now got a month to train for this half marathon I entered
  • I finally got my passport renewed, so I might be able to complete #5. See my Dad soon too
  • I took the train to Birmingham on Wednesday 5th to meet Dominic
  • On Thursday 6th November I went to London to audition for Eggheads with Gaz and his brothers; we should find out this week if we get in
  • I’ve made the decision to stop taking on further self-employment work as of next year. Despite the extra cash being a major help with the bills, the stress it’s causing me is insane.
  • I went back to the doctors on Monday to talk about the fact that I’m still angry a lot; that it comes and goes but is still there. That when I’m not angry I’m sad, really really sad. He tried to offer me anti-depressants and CBT but I want to exhaust every other possibility first. I’m trialling a new birth control pill, I’m spending more time with my babies where possible, I’m cutting back on the things that make my mental health suffer.
  • Gaz and I have been not-dating for 6 months as of this week ♥

Despite everything — the work, the stress, the foot injury, the mortgage, the monotony of the daily grind — I am still the happiest I have ever been and I need to hold on to that. Shit will improve, things will get better. One day at a time.

13 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Bunnies

With having had to source a mate for Flymo this year we had to research into how to introduce a second rabbit. It’s not as simple as sticking rabbit #2 in the hutch and letting them get on with things; each rabbit is different and a gradual bonding process works best. Anyway, in doing this research I discovered lots of other things about rabbits that I didn’t know before despite having kept them since I was a child. So here’s my list of 13 things you probably didn’t know about bunnies but do now…

  1. Bunnies are the 3rd most popular pet in the UK

    After dogs and cats – we love our furry bunnies :)

  2. Bunnies should be kept in pairs or groups

    Rabbits are social animals and naturally keep together in groups in the wild. Rabbits kept alone are easily bored which can make them destructive (Flymo hasn’t tried to dig out since we got Rosie!) and can lead to health problems due to inactivity and loneliness.

  3. 70-80% of a bunnies diet should be hay/grass

    20120625-bugsbunnyDespite what Bugs Bunny would have you believe, the core of a bunny’s diet should actually be good quality hay and/or grass. Carrots are high in sugar and should be an occasional treat only.

    Pet shop hay is expensive and often short-stranded. If you have animals like rabbits and guinea pigs, I highly recommend finding a local farm or equestrian centre who may be able to provide you with baled hay at a fraction of the cost it’s found in shops.

  4. Rabbits need constant access to their hay/food

    Rabbits that stop eating because they have no access to appropriate foods can very quickly go into gut stasis (slowdown of the digestive system) which, simply put, if not caught and treated quickly can be fatal.

  5. Bunnies perform a digestive process called caecotrophy

    Without going into too much unwanted detail, this basically means that they produce a special sort of poo which they then eat, allowing the goodness etc to be re-ingested. (Eurghh!)

  6. A hutch is not enough

    The RWAF recommend a 6ft x 2ft x 2ft hutch with an attached 8ft run as a minimum living area for 2 rabbits. Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, pet owners are required by law to meet their animal’s welfare needs; these include providing a suitable environment. The RSPCA believes the traditional method of keeping rabbits permanently confined in small hutches is totally inappropriate for the long-term housing of rabbits kept as pets.

    Most pet shops, including larger retailers like Pets at Home do not stock hutches big enough for rabbits to move around, stretch up, exercise etc. Most of the hutches currently for sale on P@H are not big enough for guinea pigs, let alone rabbits! Specialised retailers of suitable hutches are out there, e.g. The Welfare Hutch Company

  7. Rabbits don’t make good pets for children

    Rabbits are prey animals, and this means they don’t like being picked up. While some rabbits can be gently encouraged into it with regular handling, some rabbits will never let you pick them up (like Flymo). As such, children very quickly get bored of them because they can’t cuddle and pet them.

  8. Rabbits can live for an average of 7-10 years

    In that time, rabbits will accrue costs including: hay (and supplementary veg/pellets/etc), hutch and run (or costs for securing the garden) including maintenance to keep them weatherproof, castration, yearly vaccinations, toys and vet check-ups.

  9. Bunnies of both sex should be neutered

    Aside from the obvious reduction of unwanted pregnancy (and you shouldn’t want a bunny pregnancy – you’ll read why in a second) female rabbits are at risk of uterine cancer when unspayed: up to 80% of un-neutered female rabbits develop uterine cancer by 5 years of age. Un-neutered male rabbits can be overwhelmed by hormones making them sexually frustrated and miserable (not to mention more territorial, more aggressive and more likely to spray).

  10. Rabbits can have a litter of babies each month

    If left unspayed/un-neutered, rabbits can reproduce at a rate of one litter each month. With a range of 1-14 baby bunnies per litter and the long lifespan mentioned above, it’s unsurprisingy why there are…

  11. ..over 33,000 rabbits in rescues up and down the country

    Rescues, both those owned by organisations such as the RSPCA and those owned by Joe Public, are full of rabbits desperate to find homes. Every rescue I spoke to in researching this post said that they are at capacity for rabbits, turning away rabbits every day.

    Here are quotes from some of the rescues I spoke to:

    I hold the rabbit waiting list and it is currently running at about 70 – which is has been at for some time. It is a very, very worrying responsibility trying to prioritise which ones need to come in most urgently. Our average monthly bill is £3000 – over £2000 of this is vet bills.

    our capacity is 30 rabbits … at the moment we have 32 rabbits in

    I volunteer at a sanctuary every sat and work exclusively with the buns. We have about 90 rabbits at the moment, and about 50 cages. I am tasked with increasing this to 70ish as we are under pressure to take more in all the time. We have taken in about 40 in the past month.

    Despite this situation, which is only getting worse…

  12. …I count over 30 breeders in a 25 mile radius selling through preloved

    Continued breeding means that not only do those rabbits already in rescue get overlooked, but more numbers are added to rescues when owners get bored of their new pets / don’t have time to look after them anymore / move away / whatever other reason people use.

    Not only that, but…

  13. …Pets at Home continue to breed rabbits for sale in store

    Despite making a loss on animal sales (alexn – 04-22-2013, 02:54 PM animals are still bred “on a scale that is large enough to supply us […] have many separate breeders across the UK”, sold alongside the cages that are too small to adequately house them according to their needs.

OK, so those last few might not quite count as rabbit facts, but it’s pretty plain to see that we’re in a crap situation when it comes to homing domesticated rabbits in this country. While pet shop / back yard breeding remains legal and encouraged, we will see a continued increase in the pressure on rescues to provide for unwanted bunnies.

I post this not to guilt anyone who has ever bought a pet shop bunny (Flymo came from Pets at Home) but to think again before buying into the pet shop trade. Not everyone can afford to buy a bloody great big shed to house their bunnies, but most people can afford to stop and do their research before taking on an animal. (I’ll follow this up soon with a post on how you can help, even if you can’t take on rescue bunnies of your own.)

I want chickens

If you’ve ever read my about page you’ll know that I would quite like to keep chickens. Part of it is because I just have this thing about animals but mostly it’s because we spend an absolute fortune on eggs. I eat them in cakes & mayonnaise, Isabel can eat 3-4 hardboiled eggs in one go, and then there’s the egg butties, egg fried rice, eggy bread… yeah, we like eggs :)

Now that Flymo is in the shed with Rosie, his old hutch (which is actually this chicken coop) can be tidied up and re-used for actual chickens! That lay eggs! For cakes! Yay! (Exciting, hence the exclamation marks, you know…)

Buuuut, there is a slight problem in that I want more rabbits. Because they’re cute and furry:

obligatory cute bunny pic
obligatory cute bunny pic

However, as it can be difficult to bond multiples of rabbits if it didn’t work we’d have to house them in something else, like the old “hutch”, so if we put chickens in it there would be no room for furry bunnies. We can’t justify new hutches at the minute because of the costs of the shed (and just prior to that we had to replace the guinea pig’s hutches) so that leaves a choice: chickens or rabbits.

Hmm. There is actually a bigger problem than this tiny wee dilemma, actually: Karl doesn’t want any more animals right now. Probably should crack that nut first, eh?

The Animal Shed

We recently bought two sheds: a 6×4″ for the tools and general garden crap, and an 8×6″ for the animal hutches. Or that was the general plan anyway.

After battling for an entire weekend to get the 8×6″ up (due to a combination of location, size and having to build it around 2 ‘helpful’ small children) we realised that the rabbit ‘hutch’ (which is actually a chicken coop) and guinea pig’s double hutch took up so much room in there that there wasn’t enough room to move round them or clear them out even though they were occupying the same space before the shed was constructed.

So we came up with a little plan. And I say ‘we’, but really it was someone else’s plan first and we were simply creatively inspired! :) The Animal Shed was born… (more…)