In less than 3 months, Andrew & I have lost 2 of our 3 ferrets. I must tell this story from the beginning so go with me back to October.
Sunday, October 12th: Andrew & I did yard work until about noon. When I came in, I found our oldest ferret Gandalf in the bottom of his cage near death. He was laying in his own waste and was barely responding. We rushed him to Animal Emergency Clinic where they started him on fluids and discovered an infection in his bladder (basically it was filled with pus). We left him for testing & x-rays. Further testing yielded no masses internally but one of his kidneys was enlarged.....probably the infection had spread up from the bladder. Also, the cause of the black tarry stool that was literally hanging out of his bottom was probably an ulcer. (You learn something every day, right? Black tarry stools indicate internal bleeding.) They pumped him with antibiotics.
We went & visited him that night at the clinic where he spent the night. He did seem a bit better, but he wasn't out of the woods. The next morning, we picked him up at 7am and transferred him to his regular vet. His regular vet confirmed our fears that Gandalf had the dreaded adrenal disease and said that his condition was "grave to poor". Because of his age, he wasn't a candidate for surgery so only time would tell. We left him there for the day and they monitored his condition.
That night (Monday), we picked him up and brought him home. The only reason that we got to bring him home is that we were comfortable with giving him his meds & fluids and taking his temperature. We set up a pallet of towels on the den floor. G could barely walk so there was little concern that he could go anywhere. Our cat who usually has no use for any of the ferrets must have realized that Gandalf was very sick. She stayed her distance but sat calmly nearby in the den. Andrew spent the night by his side. I got up every few hours to check on them.
Tuesday morning, Gandalf returned to the vet for the day. I was so hopeful that his hanging on so long was a good sign. Andrew said that he dozed off once during the previous night and woke to find G several feet away. Unfortunately, it was his last hurrah.
When Andrew brought him home from the vet Tuesday afternoon, moments after I got home from work, it was obvious that G was getting worse by the minute. Before going to the vet, Andrew talked to the vet, and the situation wasn't good but we were bringing him home for the night again....hoping he would respond to our love & care. By the time that Andrew arrived at the vet, the doc had already left for the day and G was having tiny seizures. The vet techs said that maybe his sugar was low since he had refused to eat for them, and that we should try to get some Nutri-cal in him. He had basically been unresponsive for the vet techs & the vet all day so we hope that maybe he'd respond to us like he usually does.
I held him in my arms wrapped in a towel in the middle of the den floor and managed to get several doses of Nutri-cal in his mouth. He seemed to swallow, but the seizures continued & worsened.
Finally, we called the vet to see how long that we should let him seize like this....and we learned that he was now "cluster seizing" which indicates that the body is shutting down. We made the decision to take him to the emergency clinic where this all began Sunday and have him put to sleep.
They gave him an injection and put him in Andrew's arms, and we rocked him and rubbed him and told him how much we loved him and to just let go. It took several minutes for his body to stop seizing and then he simply stopped breathing. He looked so peaceful.
At about 6pm, Oct 14th, Gandalf "Mousehead" Phillips gently passed away. We took him home, let Max, Cleo, & Nikki tell him "goodbye", and buried him in the back yard under a nice oak tree.
Andrew & I got home from a week in NY around 11:30pm Friday night. We found Max in the sleepy sack with Cleo, but immediately it was clear that something was wrong. He looked just like G did back in October. He was limp, unresponsive, and dehydrated. We rushed him to the Animal Emergency Clinic.
X-rays were inconclusive but showed that he had something in his intestines. The doctor feared that he may have eaten something that he shouldn't have. His was too unstable to do surgery so the plan was that we would leave him at the clinic, and, if he became stable, she would do the surgery. Otherwise, we'd pick him up in the morning to transfer him to his regular vet.
We went in to tell Max "goodnight". He was wrapped in towels, lying on a table with an iv in his leg. He was still very unresponsive. He didn't look like himself. He looked so much like Gandalf.
As Andrew & I talked to him and petted him, Andrew became aware that he was no longer breathing. We quickly told the vet & vet tech. They checked him, and he had, in fact, passed on. Even though we had agreed to a "no resuscitate" order in our absence, as we stood there, I blurted out to Andrew, "Shouldn't we at least try?"
The doctor didn't hesitate and began to administer CPR. Andrew & I watched in horror. I fell to my knees, praying, and sending all the healing vibes that I could muster to our little friend. "Max", I whispered, "Max. Max. Max".
Dr Watkins did all she could, but about 1:30am, Jan 3, Max "PossumHead" Phillips went to be with Gandalf....and Serina whom we lost in May 2002.
We brought him home, let Cleo & Nikki say goodbye to him, and buried him next to G. We have only one ferret now. Our girlferret Cleopatra. Poor thing. No one to sleep with. No one to play with. We've spent a lot of time with her for the past two days. At times, she seems to look for him.
It all seems so unreal. It happened so fast. He didn't look like himself at all so it's hard to believe that it was our sweet Max. We are still in shock.