So Mason became the newest addition to the family. I really wanted a 7th ferret- a mate for Jack as Tom and Igor are mates and Jack is sort of left out and never plays. And since I live in Plot 7 I thought I should have a 7th ferret! So Monday, 8th of December 1997, Karen and I went to the RSPCA and there were 3 ferrets, among them the albino hob we'd seen 4 weeks before. We had him out and were playing with him and then I said that I'd think about it and he was put back into his run. I looked over the lower door and he stood there in his newspaper and was looking up to me like he was saying "Don't leave me here, I want to play with you.". So I said that I'd take him. He'd been there for 7 months! Poor thing.
He was "done" on Thursday 11th and looked really sad when I left him at the vet's in his little carrier cage. Karen had lent me the cage to take him back home and now he was back in it in a strange place. I took him out to give him a cuddle and he clung to me as if he was begging me not to leave him. I bet he was happy when I picked him up and he was back home in his cage.
I was soon keeping Mason with the other ferrets! Since Wednesday the 17th I had him out with my kids every night but he wasn't the problem, my boys were! Especially Jack and Tom were giving him the "death shake"! Igor tried as well but he is a very petite little boy, especially compared to the huge Mason! So there was Igor, actually jumping on top of Mason and trying to bite him on his neck but Igor just was too small so Mason thought that Igor was just playing and war danced around the room. But Jack and Tom were being nasty so the following Saturday night I came up with an idea: I made Mason taste nice- I put some Ferretone on his neck. So now there was no death shake, instead they were more like licking him to death, Jack pinned Mason down and licked him and Mason probably didn't understand what was going on! Anyway, no more fights, I put Mason in his cage though at night. Sunday morning he had another dose of Ferretone on his neck and he's been out with the ferrets since. And it had only been 10 days since his operation. But Mason was so frustrated that he could smell that nice Ferretone stuff on his neck but couldn't lick it!!! And he's such a cuddly boy as well, when I pick him up he won't go off my lap by himself, he enjoys every minute he spends with me. And when I sit on the floor, he climbs onto my lap and climbs up and rests his head on my shoulder. Like a little child... I'm glad I got him, he really appreciates being in a nice place where he can run around and play with so many toys and has so many ferret friends and a Mum! And then all those comfy and clean beds, he must think he's in heaven! But he's a foot ferret, he keeps attacking my feet, sometimes I turn round and I've got him attached to my slippers. ;-) Tom grabs my legs with both front legs and bites my legs while Mason attacks my feet. What would I do without my little fur children...
Mason has a problem and I haven't got any idea what's wrong. He lost a lot of weight over April '99 and especially May and became very attached to me so I thought something was up. While I was at Karen's at the end of May he lost even more weight and went very thin. Back home he literally begged me for more milk when I gave the kids their cat milk. And then I noticed that he wasn't eating. The ferrets had been on Totally Ferret and he couldn't eat it. I gave him some Companion's Choice and he tried to eat it but couldn't. It's so hard to explain, he opens his mouth wide and tries to pick the kibble up but then all the kibble falls out of his mouth again. He can't just pick one up and eat it. I had fed him some kibble out of my hand and he tried to eat it and it was like he couldn't control his mouth, he just opened it like hoping to pick up some food and he pinched my hand quite a lot and the other ferrets wouldn't do it but carefully pick the kibble out of my hand without biting me in the process. So I started feeding Mason tinned cat food. I use Arthur's as it has omega 6 and 3 oils in it and also taurine and in the ingredients it only has meat and animal derivatives, minerals, oils and fats. It's got the least moisture and the highest protein levels. I add ground food, bone meal, Sanatogen protein powder and some liquid ferret vitamins to it to make it a little better.
I had a look at Mason's and Tom's mouth, inside, outside, I looked at the teeth, gums, alignment of teeth, shape of mouth, everything but Mason's mouth looks like Tom's, no apparent differences that would make it hard for Mason to eat kibble.
I took Mason to my vet but they had no idea, I took him to Karen's vets at the beginning of June and Mrs Morris had a good look but couldn't find anything so she said it could be nerve damage and she gave him an anti-inflammatory injection to see whether that helps.
A few days later Mason went off the tinned cat food and went really thin again so I started making a mush out of ground Totally Ferret food and water for him and I fed him about 6 times a day for the first 2 weeks. He's put on a lot of weight since then and looks fine now, even slightly plump so I've cut his feedings back and only feed him 4 times a day when Jilly gets her mush. I wonder whether he'll ever be able to eat again...
Mason is still fine, I now only feed him 3 times a day which is okay for him. He weighs 4 1/4 pounds now. So he's starting not to be as agile as before and finds it hard to climb. But he can still war dance real good and jumps pretty high in the air when he war dances... He really is okay apart from not being able to eat by himself...
Mason's got an abscess now, the same that Jack had 3 weeks ago. I have no idea what's going on, I had a look through the ferret room to see if there are any bugs that bite the ferrets, you know, something the ferrets are reacting to. Didn't find a thing but frontlined all ferrets...
But Mason stopped eating Friday afternoon. He ate in the morning but didn't eat when we got back from our stay in Telford (see Dana). He didn't eat Saturday and by Sunday I syringe fed him. He took the food and didn't fight it... He was drinking quite a bit...
Monday we were off to the vets, we saw Mr Jones so I was happy about that. He just quickly looked at Mason, he has no idea why 3 ferrets in a row have had abscesses but he didn't open the abscess, just gave Mason a Baytril injection and gave me enough for another 4 injections.
Mason's abscess burst eventually on Wednesday, it was so disgusting! He just had this huge lump with a dark brown/ reddish scab on it. Well, the scab came off a bit and under it was hard but soft (if you know what I mean) yellow stuff. Pete said why don't you stick a needle in to see if it is an abscess? So off I went and stuck a needle in and squeezed it and puss came out. Squeezed a bit more and it all came out! Quite a lot of it! Yellow very runny puss with red in it. And Thursday morning it had filled up again but I didn't think there was that much in it, Mason was out, I separated him from the group Wednesday after emptying the abscess, and when he came up the stairs I noticed puss and blood dripping down from his abscess, he knocked it trying to squeeze between a cat carrier and a drawer unit... And there was loads of puss coming out again... The scab was coming off and it looked horrible underneath...
I separated Mason from the group because I have the feeling that the ferrets caught abscesses from one another. Have no idea how Jack got his in the first place but lets say when it was open, Dana laid on it with her head/ ear and there was a little lesion in her skin and bacteria from Jack's abscess got in and caused her abscess. Then she laid on Mason's tummy with her pussy ear and gave him an abscess. So there was no way I was going to let it continue. Maybe they can't "catch" abscesses like that but on the off chance that they can, I just wanted to stop it.
It's been 8 days now and Mason's wound still looks bad, it's the size of a 50p coin... But no more puss. The scab came off completely. But it's drying out and healing and it doesn't seem to bother Mason at all. Yesterday (Saturday) he finally started eating by himself again so he is better. He hasn't lost any weight though, his tummy is still huge...
Mason has lost weight! Well, when I started the BARF diet, I still hand fed him- 3 times a day. I would feed him as much as he wanted to eat... Big mistake! He got grossly obese! He put on almost a pound in weight, he didn't play at all, he could not walk up the stairs and when the big group had a run, he would go into the bathroom and lie down on a towel... So he had to loose weight! First I started feeding him just twice a day but that didn't make a big difference. Then I thought that he was able to lick the mush out of a bowl, so in theory he should be able to lick watered down chicken out of a bowl. So I sat him in front of the bowl and made him eat. The first time I didn't succeed, he just refused to eat after a while... But I tried it again in January and this time I got him to eat. Morning and night I would get him and sit him in front of the bowl. At first I had to hold him to make him eat. Then I just had to sit there and pet him while he ate. After a while I just sat him in front of the bowl and he would eat while I carried on with other work. But he never went and ate by himself, he only ate when I put him in front of the bowl. He'd walk around, walk to the bowl, sniff, walk off, walk back to the bowl, sniff and walk off again... But one day he decided to just go and eat and I was sooo happy! Then he started to go to the bowl by himself more and more and now he will go and eat by himself like the other ferrets! I am sooo glad. Through all of this he has also lost a lot of weight and continues to loose it. He plays like mad and runs up the stairs without stopping once, he has so much more energy and is so happy! :-) He used to be around 2 kg but was 2.4 kg at the beginning of November! From then on he steadily lost weight and is now 1.875 kg, the lightest he's been for quite a while! He can still loose another 300 g, then he'll be an ideal weight, not thin but not fat, either.
We've had Mason at the vets Monday 23rd of April, he was very ill. Sunday he was bouncing around and playing and eating well and Monday morning he was wobbly on his feet, very weak, lethargic, depressed, very thirsty, he went to the water bowl, drank a little, then he just stood over the bowl and didn't do anything like he forgot what he was doing. Like his mind went blank. He couldn't manage to go into the toilet to have a pee. When I fed him, he didn't seem to want to eat and he was shaking and shivering after he had a little but about an hour later I gave him more and he was happy to eat and was okay after eating. He was very floppy when I held him, just lied in my arms, didn't seem to have any energy. He felt hot to me but when we got to the vets, his temperature was normal. I also used some urine strips on him to see if he had sugar in his urine (because of his excessive thirst) but it was negative. Louise the vet felt his tummy and couldn't feel anything so suggested a blood test and an x-ray.
Louise took the blood from the jugular vein and didn't have to sedate him, he held still for them. When he had his x-ray, he just laid on the table and they didn't even need to hold him... That's not good for a ferret... My other guys have never held still when the vets attempted to get blood from the jugular vein, no matter how sick they were... The blood results were normal, he also had a blood glucose test which was normal, too.
The x-ray showed something in Mason's chest. Louise didn't quite know what to make of it and sent the x-ray to a friend who specialises in exotics. There seemed to be something in his chest that shouldn't be there. Louise said something about a possible lymphoma? Whatever it was, it seemed to be pushing the heart out of it's place. My vets x-rayed Igor and Jack and their hearts were in the middle but Mason's was more on one side. The lungs were clear, there seemed to be no fluid. The mass is in a cavity between the heart and lungs and is pushing the heart over to one side (I think the left) and the right hand lung is being compressed.
Tuesday Mason was even worse. His abdomen was like it was in spasm when he was eating his breakfast (I don't know if spasm is the right word). And later on he was doing it all the time, especially when he was lying on his back. Pete said it was very shallow breathing, he was breathing very quickly and his whole abdomen was moving very quickly. He looked really ill and every time I checked on him I expected him to be dead, that's how bad it was... And by Wednesday he was back to normal! He was walking around again, showed interest in things and what I was doing, he even had a little run in the room. He was still a bit tired like you are after an illness but he looked a lot better and by Thursday you wouldn't have thought that he'd ever been so ill...
Well, Louise sent the x-ray off to her friend and a few exotics specialists had a look and they think that Mason has cardiomyopathy... Except there's no way that heart disease would have caused the symptoms he'd had. Louise said so as well but thinks we may have discovered the heart disease very early by accident really. But when the specialist wrote a report, he did mention that a tumour would also be possible, he hasn't ruled that out, he said tumour of the heart or a tumour in his chest. So Mason is on Encard tablets for now for his heart and I guess we will have to wait and see...
Wednesday the 8th of May we went to the vets with Mason and Bella. Mason had had an x-ray April last year and it showed an enlarged heart but really Louise wasn’t all that sure and she sent the x-ray to an exotics specialist and he wasn’t 100% sure what was wrong but they did suspect cardiomyopathy and put Mason on Enacard. But he’s not showing the typical signs of cardiomyopathy... Most ferrets are diagnosed because they get fluid in their lungs. Mason’s never had fluid and still hasn’t and if he’d had cardiomyopathy for a year then you’d think he’d get worse and have fluid by now.. So I thought we’d have an x-ray done to see whether anything has changed. My vet Louise had left the practice and we now have a German vet called Michaela and she x-rayed Mason and at night we saw her again and she looked at the new x-ray and compared it to the old and nothing much has changed. She said it definitely doesn’t look normal but she’s not sure what’s wrong... Last year his lungs looked more congested, now they’re clearer... We took pictures of the x-rays and I wrote to the FHL and Dr Williams replied that there's no sign of cardiomyopathy there. I put the photos of the x-rays on the web page as well.
We had Mason put to sleep Monday the 9th. Friday/ Saturday the 30th and 31st of August he was wobbly when he was out and then he started staring into space and I thought it *could* be a low sugar and I tested him twice with a blood glucose meter and he had 48 and 55mg/dl. Then the vets tested him the next Monday and his sugar was down to 25mg/dl. He had crashed on the way to the vets and had been pretty limp but was back to normal at the vets and then his blood sugar was so low. Jilly had low sugars and at 25mg/dl she was out of it yet Mason still had to have gas for the blood test... Anyway, Mason was then put on pred and for a few days he was a new ferret, playing, running, jumping, he *ran* up the stairs and was doing so well. He was up for a whole hour, wrestled with Reno and Fox, he could get into the washing machine, he was just back to normal. So I booked him in for insulinoma surgery for the 9th. But the Friday before the surgery he started deteriorating, stopped eating over the weekend and was very weak and depressed. He couldn’t even get to the toilet in the cage... I almost had him put to sleep on the Sunday... Got him to the vets Monday and Michaela was shocked how much weight he lost and how weak he was so she said they’ll put a drip into him to get glucose into him and stabilise his blood sugar. But when they tested his blood glucose, it was sky high... Sort of 309/327mg/dl... So I got a phone call from Michaela and she said she was going in to see what was going on. We raced to the vets because we wanted to observe the operation and take photos, it was sooo weird looking in and everything was moving inside... The pancreas was full of tiny nodules, when she got to the liver it was riddled with nodules as well. There was a really odd looking lymph node by the liver. We’d already said that we would put him to sleep if it had spread to the liver so she injected the euthanasia stuff into the catheter. He went straight away... It was a bit of a shock, he hid his low sugars so well, I didn’t know anything was wrong, at least nothing bad... And then he was so sick... He was more quiet and not very active but he did play and war dance every day, just not for very long. And the only other odd thing was that he was twitching a lot but I thought that had to do with the central nervous system or that something was wrong with his heart after all even though the last x-ray was okay...
Mason’s histopathology report(s):
The liver has a normal architecture with scattered foci of mononuclear cells within portal areas. Hepatocytes are moderately vacuolated. The pancreas includes lobules of active acinar cells as well as several small nodular structures formed from tall epithelial cells arranged in packets and nests. The cells have oval nuclei and low mitotic activity. Similar cells are scattered through the tissue associated with acinar cells. There is a diffuse mixed inflammatory infiltrate. The third structure is composed of irregular papillary processes and ducts lined by tall columnar epithelial cells. The underlying tissues are infiltrated by lymphoid cells. Mixed inflammatory cells are present within several ducts. The structure is surrounded by fibromuscular tissue.
There is no evidence of a liver tumour in these sections. The liver is showing only mild, non-specific degenerative changes. The pancreas includes multiple nodules likely to represent a form of nodular hyperplasia. There is mild pancreatitis. The third tissue is not lymph node although it includes lymphoid cells. It is ductular and may be of biliary or other origin. It is inflamed.
My vet Michaela rang the laboratory for re-sectioning the liver and pancreas because she was sure that there were tumours on both the pancreas and liver.
Further portions of the liver have been processed and within these there is now evidence of multilocular cystic mass. The cysts are lined by attenuated cuboidal epithelial cells with narrow fibrous septa. Adjacent to the cystic area there is a solid area of small polygonal cell proliferation. These cells have small oval nuclei and low mitotic activity. They are tending to form small packets and ducts. There is a little fibroplasias and a mild lymphoid infiltrate and foci of neutrophils. This is consistent with bile duct cystic hyperplasia and adenoma formation. Further processing of tissue from the pancreas also now includes several large irregular nodular masses composed of ducts and solid aggregates of quite pleomorphic cells with variable nuclei and moderate mitotic activity. There is local and vascular invasion consistent with carcinoma formation.
Dr Bruce Williams' comment on the histopathology report:
The diagnosis is likely that of a malignant biliary neoplasm - these are commonly misinterpreted as benign cysts. Best to keep a close eye on this - it may be back.
With kindest regards,
Bruce Williams DVM