On the 5th of January 2002, Tara joined us. A man from Anglesey signed my guestbook on 2nd of January and asked me to e-mail him as he urgently needed advice about a ferret. So I did and it turned out that there was a stray ferret living in the bank by his house. The man and his wife fed the ferret and won her trust but they didn't know what to do with her. So I asked them to catch the ferret and keep it indoors and ask around to see whether anybody had lost her or wanted her. They couldn't keep the ferret as they have cats and do dog grooming. They also couldn't find anybody who'd lost a ferret or wanted her and didn't know what to do. So I said "if you lived closer, I could take her" so the man said he could bring her (long drive on little windy roads)! In the end we arranged to meet in Aberystwyth on the Saturday. Tara was very friendly but also nervous, when she heard a strange noise, she tried to jump off my arms...
At home I let her have a run in the ferret room at night and she stood in front of the cages, screaming at the other ferrets. I thought she could be a friend for Willow but she was scared of Willow and screamed at Willow and sort of attacked Willow. So of course Willow started to bully her then. So I thought let Tara settle in first. She settled in and was happy and started to war dance and she played with me and seemed very content. Then Tuesday night I thought I try Willow and Tara again and Tara didnít scream at Willow, Willow did bully her a bit but Tara is slim and quick and Willow is podgy and gets tired when she chases after Tara so Tara was pretty safe. Iíd put another wire cage together, it's 3'x3'x3' with 2 levels so Tara was upstairs in it and Willow and Bella were downstairs. Well, I put Willow with Tara upstairs and I put Jack in with Bella downstairs. Bella was happy to be with Jack but Willow looked *very* depressed the next morning, missing Bella... So I had no choice but to let Bella out with Willow and Tara and of course Bella bullies a bit worse than Willow. I sprayed Tara with Bitter Apple so Bella didnít bully her much and Bella hasnít got many teeth anyway, the 2 bottom canines are removed and the top ones are broken so she canít do much damage. So the 3 girls have been together since and Jack is back with his group. Bella, Willow and Tara are all sleeping in one bed even though theyíve also got a sleep sack in there...
Tara is still very nervous and jumpy and scared of everything but she's getting better. She's very affectionate and likes cuddles and gives kisses and she also likes playing and is so happy! :-) She loves Willow and Bella and plays with both and when Bella was ill, I often found Tara sleeping with her and keeping her warm...
And Tara eats so well... I don't know what to make of her, though, I think she was never fed much food and when she did get food, she had to fight over it with other ferrets. I fed meat chunks and she stashed them all in one corner of the cage and wouldn't let Willow near them! Then they had chicks and Tara got both chicks and didn't want Willow to have her chick... They played tug-of-war with the chicks... Tara always acts so hungry and seems scared that she won't get enough... She'll eat anything. One day I got a turkey leg and cut the meat off for meat chunks and then I gave the leg bone to Tara at night, it still had meat on and the bone kept Tara occupied for quite a while and in the morning the bone was pretty clean so Tara chewed all the meat off... *None* of my other ferrets would bother to clean a bone, it's hard enough to get them to eat chunks. ;-) But Tara is such a joy to have as she'll happily eat anything you put in front of her. :-)
On Wednesday the 23rd of January, I had Tara and Willow spayed. I've written about it on Willow's page, both girls had fluid in their chests after the spay and now, almost 4 weeks later, they still sound congested every now and again, well, every day...
Tara had an operation for a blockage Monday 24.11.03... She'd been off her food for 5-7 days, first she was eating slowly and hesitated like she wasn't sure whether to eat more or not, and in the end only ate when I hand fed her and then she spat out every little 1-2 mm fragment of bone in her chicken mince and her stools were just little blobs of pudding like poo. And I just thought "blockage" and indeed her stomach was full of carpet gripper. :-( We have rugs on laminate flooring so Pete glued carpet gripper (which is sort of rubbery) to the bottom of the rugs. There was only one strip of gripper left and Tara decided to eat some of it... At the vets, Michaela first x-rayed Tara, I said her stomach should be empty because Sunday morning she only had a tiny bit of chicken mince without bone and Sunday night she had a tiny bit of Hill's A/D so there should not have been anything in her stomach that would show up on an x-ray. But we saw some dense material in her stomach on the x-ray. Tara was still anaesthetised from doing the x-ray so Michaela cut her open straight away (after putting her on a drip). I observed the surgery and took pictures and fetched Tara home at night and then she recovered very well. I was/ am scared about her stomach opening up again. I can deal with abdominal surgery now but find it a bit scary when the stomach or, worse, the intestines, are opened up. Tara was sooo hungry after the surgery (well, sort of 2 days later), I guess she's not feeling discomfort anymore and is enjoying her food again. :-) I'm so glad that she is better and we could help her...
For 1 day after surgery, she had some special Hillís food (I/D) to eat. She didnít like it much. Then I had an idea, I got turkey breast and thigh meat and we liquidised it and Tara had this Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. She wasnít keen on this, either. So I just got her normal food, minced chicken, and she ate that just fine. :-) I didnít give her a normal portion size, I split her normal portion into 2 meals so her stomach wouldnít be stretched too much. Wednesday she also had a little walk in our bedroom where her recovery cage was. Wednesday night and Thursday morning I let her have a little run in the house and Thursday she went back with her group. Riley and Wesley had already forgot who she was and sort of bullied her and Wesley wanted to drag her away. A bit of Bitter Apple helped there. Tara was so happy to see Bella and cleaned her straight away. She was also happy to be back with Willow. 6 days after surgery, Tara seems back to normal and is playing like mad with Willow and runs and dances around. :-)
Tara was a really special ferret. She was kind to other ferrets and so happy and full of life. She played with all the ferrets, but was Willow's best friend. Willow and Tara played together all the time, every morning, it was so lovely to watch them. Willow doesn't like playing with the boys or anybody else so it was great that she had her best friend Tara...
I know this update is late but I haven't had a good time. Tara died, then as soon as I started to come to terms with loosing her, Reno got sick and died. And then Dana died. Three losses in under 2 months has taken it's toll even on me.
Saturday the 19th of February, everything was okay. In the morning Pete was upstairs and Willow and Tara were playing. Willow was doing her funny dook and I looked at Pete and grinned and he asked ďwhoís thatĒ and I said thatís Willow playing with Tara. Both were playing together and Tara looked completely normal, she looked like she was feeling sooo good. Rolling around, rubbing herself on the rug, playing with Willow... At night, I put all ferrets in the cage, I did not notice anything wrong with Tara. Sunday morning I let the group out after Spikeís group and Ruby had been out and I put all ferrets on the floor- and Tara could barely walk. I wasnít too alarmed, in the past I had funny episodes like that with Gremlin, Hobo, and Reno. Gremlin even had it twice, last year and the year before, every time it happened around January/ February. I donít know what was wrong when Gremlin, Hobo and Reno had this funny turn, they had a high temperature (not sure about Reno but Gremlin and Hobo both had a high temperature) and they were too weak to walk, this came on suddenly and they were treated with rimadyl and baytril. This brought the temperature down and they recovered. So first I thought that Tara had something like that but she felt cold and her heart was racing. So I fed her to see if she wanted to eat and she ate even though she found it difficult. Then I packed her into the sick/ emergency/ vet cage and phoned the vets to see the emergency vet and luckily Mr Jones was on. Taraís temperature was normal, possibly even low. Mr Jones didnít know what it could be so it was the standard treatment of rimadyl and baytril. I got some baytril to inject her with Sunday night and Monday morning. Tara was so limp and didnít move at all when I injected her. I fed her Sunday night and had her in my bedroom in the night. She could barely move so I got up during the night to put her onto the potty or retrieve her out of it. Monday I fed her again and went to the vets to see Michaela. Tara could feel pain when Michaela pinched her toes, the reflexes seemed to be working. But her heart raced as soon as Tara tried to move and slowed right down when Tara just lied there. Her eyes were very watery, especially the left eye. Michaela did an x-ray and blood test, Tara didnít even need to be anaesthetised for the x-ray... When I fetched Tara, Michaela said her chest cavity didnít look right. Above her heart you can normally see the lungs and the space around is usually clear and dark/ black but hers was sort of grey like there was something there. Her lymph nodes also looked enlarged in her chest.
I got a printout of Tara's account which includes comments by Michaela. During examination, Michaela wrote "staring, bradycard returning to normocardia with activity, very flat, normal reflexes, watery eyes". After the x-ray, the comments were "huge mediastinal Nl and homogenous density of cranial and ventral lung fields, suspect lymphoma". When I drove home Monday after fetching Tara, all I could do was cry. She was worse Monday evening so I gave her a pred tablet to see if that would have any effect... But she got worse and had a really bad night...
So I had Tara put to sleep Tuesday 22nd of February. And I was in a bit of a state and couldn't get my thoughts and feelings sorted. I was beyond upset, I really couldn't deal with this. Monday night she was sooo bad, she could barely move but she was so restless. She was in the sick cage by my bed but couldn't get comfortable or something, every few minutes she would crawl into the toilet even though she must have been in so much pain, she was constantly moaning but still crawled into the toilet all the time. Eventually I took her into bed with me and her head was raised on my arm and she settled down a bit. So I put an extra blanket in her cage so I could make it into a sort of pillow so her head would be raised. She was a bit more comfortable for a little while- before crawling moaning into the toilet again. In the morning I put her in the hammock, I hadn't put her in it in case she crawled out and hurt herself more. But she settled in the hammock. I couldn't stand seeing her like that in so much pain so Tuesday morning I went to the vets and had her put to sleep. We did an autopsy and found nothing. Which was horrendous for me. We sent lungs and heart off, lymph nodes, some liver and spleen. Michaela cut her spine, she said if she'd had something like meningitis then the fluid in the spine would have been under pressure- but it wasn't so she ruled out meningitis. I kept wondering whether I made a rushed decision having her put to sleep. What if we had tried some really strong opoid (sp?)/ morphine type painkillers and some dexamethasone or something, just for a few days. Maybe she would have got better. And this was going round and round in my head and I hadn't cried so much in a long time. On the other hand I couldn't have forgiven myself if I had let her suffer unnecessarily.
I kept wondering if Tara had cancer in her spine/ head. Apart from the sudden paresis, she had to urinate frequently, small amounts. Bowel movements were normal. And she had difficulty eating. I hand fed her minced chicken but she had problems co-ordinating the movements of her head and mouth to eat. She was hungry but her movements were like that of a chicken pecking at food. She'd just open her mouth and go towards the food, like hoping some would end up in her mouth...
This was just sooo hard for me. Barney with his juvenile lymphoma was hard, a light cough for a few days and then we take him to the vets and he deteriorates and needs to be put to sleep right away. That was very quick and unexpected but at least we knew something was very wrong. But Tara was sudden and fast and I had no idea what was wrong and now wondered whether she had something that we could have fixed. This was just so unreal, I kept thinking this can't have happened, it just can't be real.
I kept thinking of her face and how playful she was, how nice she was to other ferrets and how cheeky. And this hurt so much, I kept thinking she was mine and she was Willowís friend and it is just so unfair that she is gone. She was only 3 1/2 years old, she should still be here, I thought I would have her around for another 4 years at least... It will take me a long time to get over this... For once I really couldnít cope with the loss of a ferret...
Luckily we found out what was wrong with Tara. She had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. I was still finding it hard to believe, I mean that Saturday she was completely normal. I had watched her play *every* morning, she had showed *no* sign of cardiomyopathy... The vets and people on the FHL seem to think she had a blood clot that was caused by the heart disease. I looked up all words regarding her heart condition. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy will eventually result in cardiomyopathy and it must have caused the congestive heart failure which was mentioned in the report, that means ineffective pumping of the heart which in turn leads to fluid accumulation in the lungs. She had all that, it must have happened suddenly. I donít know whether the heart failure could have caused all symptoms, the report doesnít seem to think so, so the explanation that there may have been a blood clot (saddle thrombus) sounds probable. Iím just glad that there was something wrong, something we couldnít have fixed. Still a shock and I still miss her and am very sad but at least I did the right thing. I went through terrible bouts of doubt, thinking she may have had a swelling along her spine that caused her problems and that we could have maybe fixed that with some strong painkiller and anti-inflammatory. At least it seems I did the right thing not prolonging her suffering... So I have come to some sort of closure and can move on from loosing Tara...
This is her pathology report:
Sudden ataxia, weakness. 1st day tachycardia, tachypnoe, T 100.5 F. 2nd day with brachycardia and deep breathing, restlessness and vocalization at home. Eating when hand fed / full stomach and bowel passage on x/ray.
Prognosis Not Applicable
The heart has a globoid shape with loss of the apex. The left ventricular wall is 4-5 times thicker than the right ventricular free wall.
The lungs has multiple coalescing areas of proteinaceous edema that flood the alveolar spaces. A few macrophages filled with Perlís positive vacuoles (hemosiderophages Ė heart failure cells) are present in the alveoli.
The spleen is diffusely and markedly congested and contains a few scattered hemosiderophages.
Several renal tubules contain golden-brown vacuoles in the cytoplasm of the epithelium which are Perlís stain negative.
No significant histologic lesions are present in the sections of liver, pancreas, lymph node or heart examined.
There was gross evidence of a hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. There is also pulmonary edema with occasional heart failure cells which supports a diagnosis of congestive heart failure. The edema, however, is very high in protein and appears to be an acute change, probably not entirely related to the congestive heart failure.
The clinical signs do not seem to be completely explained by the gross or histologic findings. They appear to have corresponded to an acute lesion with inflammation, and no evidence of such processes is present in these tissues. Could there have been severe trauma to the spine or back legs?