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November 05, 2005
Last night I realized that Thistle had spent the entire evening sitting in his litterbox, seemingly dozing. I offered him parsley. No interest. I offered him dried papaya, which functions more or less as bunny crack. No interest. I petted him, and he was chilly to the touch.
Rabbits do not generally show outward signs of illness until they are almost dead of whatever's making them sick. I did a quick web search and found that hypothermia in rabbits means one of two things. The first is "get to a vet this instant." The alternative is "Go get the shovel."
We chose the first. After warming Thistle with body heat and a sock full of microwaved uncooked rice, not to mention the car heater on the way to the 24-hour emergency vet 25 miles away, he checked in at the vet's at 98.7 degrees F. Normal is 101. He'd certainly been down to 97 or lower before we started in on him. The x-rays showed his stomach grossly distended, full of fluid. A rabbit's stomach is supposed to be a place where the food slows slightly on its speedy journey from mouth to litterbox. When that stops, the rabbit dies. The vets took Thistle into the back, and we drove home at midnight.
One lousy, fitful night's sleep later, we got the news that his temperature was up and he'd been forcefed a few ccs of emergency rabbit food. We drove back - with Zeke in the role of "visiting family" - and took Thistle to his regular vet a few blocks down the street. On the way from one vet to the other his hindgut started working a little: we found the evidence in his carrier.
The vet is guardedly optimistic. Rabbit turds are cause for sighs of relief in contexts such as this.
Robust and healthy in the morning, near death in the evening after a day spent sitting in his cage. There's a metaphor in there somewhere.
Update: he's home, he's in somewhat better shape, but by no means out of the woods. We've force-fed him about 30 ccs of convalescent food. It says something about our lives that we already had the large container of said food in the refrigerator.
Later: He's eating carrots.
Posted by Chris Clarke at November 5, 2005 11:27 AM
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Wishing Thistle a very speedy recovery. May he litter all his favorite spots with the turds of good health.Posted by: Rexroth's Daughter at November 5, 2005 12:04 PM
weird times ... they say there's are no proof for "good" or "bad" influences ... but these are some kind of "weird times" ...
well, even if there is no proof for either good or bad luck ... who cares: WISH YOU GOOD LUCK!!!Posted by: Yubi at November 5, 2005 12:08 PM
Poor Thistle! Feel better, pretty bunny.Posted by: Hissy Cat at November 5, 2005 01:55 PM
so what is it supposed to be wrong with him?Posted by: craig at November 5, 2005 02:39 PM
Hope he's better soon!Posted by: leslie at November 5, 2005 02:45 PM
A speedy recovery to Thistle!Posted by: Amanda Marcotte at November 5, 2005 03:01 PM
Poor Thistle! Please get well soon!Posted by: Nikki at November 5, 2005 04:04 PM
ok, just googled - was this GI stasis?Posted by: craig at November 5, 2005 06:25 PM
Eeep! Not a Thistle scare!Posted by: Space Kitty at November 5, 2005 06:45 PM
GI stasis is what we were frightened of, and what we're battling now by force-feeding him. But we don't know what caused it in the first place. Vets have no idea yet.Posted by: Chris Clarke at November 5, 2005 06:58 PM
Please feel better, Thistle.
Why, oh why can't animals communicate their illnesses to us? Had a similar situation with 2 of my cats in September. After 5 days at the vet and a $3000 bill, they were ok. We still don't know what happened to them.Posted by: SneakySnu at November 5, 2005 07:08 PM
My macaw and I are pulling for ya'll! Sympathies - I've had a few good rabbit buddies over the years, though not a rex (I'm assuming from the picture that Thistle is a rex). May El-ahrairah grant some mercy . . .Posted by: Jamie at November 5, 2005 08:06 PM
yay carrots!Posted by: craig at November 5, 2005 10:36 PM
Thistle: My mom said to tell you to get well. I have a split toenail, which I seem to remember you recovered from, but I'm still whining a bit. (Good Girl treats, you know what I'm saying?) Hang in there.
SneakySnu: When we do, you do nasty things like cut our toenails and take us to the vet so they can do even nastier things. We're no dummies!Posted by: BaileyF at November 6, 2005 04:09 AM
Oh, the poor little thing. And poor you guys, too. I hope you all heal from this and get back to eating, sleeping and pooping the way you should real soon.Posted by: Sara at November 6, 2005 08:11 AM
Glad to hear Thistle is better!
Sorry about my somewhat hermetic comment before: it's a time that wherever I turn to ... I find people battling with something going wrong, sometimes really wrong ... so Thistle: get well soon!!!!
No worries, Yubi.Posted by: Chris Clarke at November 6, 2005 12:07 PM
Nice work saving the rabbit, Chris. They're tender creatures, not often brought back from the brink.
Thistle obviously has an exceptional human.Posted by: DeSelby at November 6, 2005 06:27 PM
Oh, frightening! I'm glad you caught him in time.
I mean, I know concealing illness is a survival trait in the wild, but boy is it frustrating in domesticated animals!
Here's hoping Thistle continues moving along on the road to recovery.Posted by: Rana at November 7, 2005 07:57 AM
Best wishes to Thistle for a complete recovery!
How old is he, Chris? IIRC, he's kinda getting up there in years. Are elderly bunnies prone to specific geriatric illnesses?Posted by: CaseyL at November 7, 2005 06:34 PM
Thistle's four or five: middle aged for a small buunny.Posted by: Chris Clarke at November 7, 2005 06:38 PM
Oh, poor little guy. Thistle's lucky in his people. Here's to carrots and pooping!Posted by: Stephanie at November 7, 2005 07:05 PM
I had a Californian doe who acted the very same way one morning. I got her into the vet in the afternoon, and she recovered. They told me to give her PetroMalt periodically and make sure she got alfalfa to keep everything moving.
Rabbits can get intestinal blockages because they groom themselves like cats do, and they need fiber to keep things from stopping up.
I hope Thistle is feeling better. He's a lovely creature.Posted by: Tlazolteotl at November 8, 2005 03:29 PM