Of Rats and Jen (Inactive)

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

Sad Ratties and the Things That Make Them Happy

Filed under: Rats! — folkcat at 12:12 pm on Wednesday, October 17, 2007

At the end of last week, Sable started withdrawing, and had appetite loss and general depression again after Lola started getting aggressive. We’ve kept them strictly separated since, and have decided that’s just the way of the world for us now – separate Rattie sisters in separate cages. Lola will not be allowed the opportunity to attack Sable again.

The worst moment was when Sable had a clear incident of night terrors or nightmares again. I had carried her cage to a small table next to the desktop computer in the other corner of the living room. As I sat there working, she snoozed in a felt bag on the top shelf of the cage. Suddenly, I heard her thrash around. When I looked over, she was posed in a very odd position in the hammock, across the cage from where she’d been sleeping. Eyes staring straight up into the corner, body poised as if to leap through the roof of the cage, she stood there frozen, unmoving.

I opened the cage door and got her attention. She looked at me, looked down at the open door, and dashed around the cage to get out. Climbing my shoulders, she huddled at the back of my neck, under my ponytail, refusing to move or even to acknowledge a finger offering a skritch.

I called Gryphon in from the other room. He collected Sable from my neck, and sat with her in his chair for the longest time. She huddled, tucked in the corner of the chair down by his hip, letting him stroke her gently. Eventually, she must have felt better, because she climbed back up into her cage again on her own.

Sable is clearly traumatized, both by the loss of her sister, and by the ruthless dominance-asserting attacks from Lola. We can’t bring back her sister, but we can do what we can to offer comfort and contact as much as possible.

I’ve been keeping Sable as close as I can at all times. She often naps now on my lap, tucked under a blanket with my hand cradling her. She’s taken to this completely, and has even started specifically crawling onto the palm of my open hand as if it were another rat to sleep in a pile with. These sessions last well into deep sleep on her part – often, I feel the twitches of feet and nose as she dreams. It’s difficult for knitting to have one hand tied down like this, but a small price to pay to keep her happy.

Her appetite went off so severely I was worried – she even refused favorite goodies offered by hand. But we watched to see what she was eating regardless of her mood, and made those more available. The morning dose of supplement-fortified baby food always went well, so now she gets a second one in the evening. And the homemade applesauce we made on Sunday was a big hit.

Then there are the small pleasures she finds in the world. We’ve actually been getting temperate autumn weather here, which means we can occasionally open the windows and let the natural air come in. Sable loves it!

Just look at how eagerly she sniffs the air! When something as simple as this can make her happy, why withhold it?

As for Lola and Sable together, we’re simply not going to go there at all. Lola and Sable will not be allowed to get into a position where Lola can attack. Sable doesn’t need to have that experience of fear and vulnerability in her life.

Lola is feeling the isolation, even though her cage is side by side with Sable’s and sitting within inches of my chair. We’re making an effort to give her equal, but separate, attention. We’re also trying to make things more interesting for her, since I think part of the problem is sheer boredom of a smart Rattie. Several times now, we’ve rolled up her portions of produce in paper towels, stuffed them inside a toilet paper core, folded the ends over, and either given it to Lola directly, or threaded it with string and hung it high in her cage. She loves attacking the “toilet paper bomb,” as we call them, and it takes her a long time to get everything out.

Rattie life, then, is making adjustments, and moving forward in a fairly reasonable way. Everyone’s getting what they need. And we aren’t ruling out that we may still take a new pair when the litters at the breeder become available!

4 Comments

Comment by Carol

October 17, 2007 @ 7:00 pm

Too bad about the ratties not getting along. we’re still supervising the new addition to our house. There are occasional spats and we’ve had to separate the dominant kitty and the new one a couple of times, but I think they are getting it…slowly!

Comment by sarebear

October 17, 2007 @ 7:25 pm

Dagnabbit, on the Ratties thing. Well, creatures so full of personality will naturally have more personality conflicts than other creatures, but it’s sad when it happens. I’m glad they are having some new activites they enjoy!

Oh, on the book you review below, that’s going to be a MUST for me too, and I also agree, as a plus-size person, that in this case, the size range provided is not a high-priority factor (although great and desirable if they do include some plus sizes, but I don’t even care that much if they don’t, for all the reasons you say!). SO glad to see from your review there’s a wide range of projects, skill-level wise, in addition to all the excellent yarn info.

Woohoo! Sounds like it’s gonna be a best-seller. I sure hope so!

Sable is so cute in this vid. I’m imagining all the interesting scent flavors she’s smelling (I imagine, for a rat, that scents ARE kinda a flavor to them, to help track down yummy things to eat.) Sort of like smell-o-vision, Rattie style . ..

Comment by Leesa

October 17, 2007 @ 10:49 pm

Sorry to hear that Lola just can’t seem to play nice with Sable. Perhaps those new rattie youngings you are waiting for will be Sable’s chance to have a new cage-mate someday. Presumably the little one would not try to be dominant at such a young age and they would develop a bond before it thought to ‘challenge’ Sable’s position. That’s my hope for her anyway. Best of luck!

Comment by Carrie K

October 18, 2007 @ 6:50 pm

Oh, poor Sable. Glad to hear you’ve taken steps. That darn Lola.

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