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Old 04-26-2016, 10:26 PM   #121 (permalink)
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So I'm setting a goal for myself for this week & next, to get into a regular schedule of caring & handling all of the critters. I've been slacking on things the past few weeks with everything going on with Pancake. Everyone else is fine, but they haven't been getting the care & attention they deserve, and I know I need to do better. The cat at least gets cuddles & attention from the roommate, but everyone else is dependent on me for everything.

I'm going to try drawing up a schedule so I can get into a routine & get used to it. I tend to do better with routine once I've settled into it, so I think that'll work best. I'm thinking I'll have two days (Monday & Thursday?) to get Charis out for 30-60 minutes. That way if one day gets missed due to her having a feeding, something going on in my life, etc., she still gets to come out once during the week. The only thing that might interrupt both days is me being gone (going home for a visit for a week soon) or if she's preparing to shed. I also need to get better at getting into her tank more often so she gets used to it...it just makes both of us jumpy. But we both need to get used to it! Ashley, would you happen to have any suggestions for making that go smoother? Or is it pretty much just do it & she'll start to realize that it's me & it's normal?

I have permission from the vet to have both of the hedgies out at the same time as Pancake improves, so I may start that this weekend or next week. Tonight I have Bindi out for cuddles alone while I read. It'll be easy to make sure everyone's getting regular cuddles then. I can have the hedgies out 3-4 days of the week & have one or two evenings to myself & for the cat to get some cuddles without getting chased away from the prey animals. At least I don't need to handle the hermit crabs!
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Old 04-26-2016, 11:13 PM   #122 (permalink)
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Written schedules help so much! I always find myself missing something or slacking somewhere if I don't have a schedule pinned to the wall or on my phone with an alarm set. Once you find a system that works it gets really easy and eventually it'll all be automatic.

When you reach into Charis's cage, does she recoil, hide, flinch, or pull into a defensive striking position? Depending on how she's behaving you can try different things. With Illy, he's almost always in a hide when I go to get him, so I just gently rub whatever part of him is sticking out so he knows it's just me. He was completely untame when I got him so it took time. Now it makes him pop his head out, but not in a hungry way, more in a slow, curious way, and then I can flip his hide and scoop him. If he's sprawled all over the cage I actually just take the lid off and let him come out on his own time. He's a nosy guy and will plop right onto the floor while I do maintenance on the other cages, and then once he's out I can scoop him easily and make a sneklace. With Sherlock, who recoils into a defensive striking position or stretches right out to nip me, I have to tap him gently with the snake hook before I can reach in. It took me about a month to teach him being booped means no food, while being hooked and moved means food, but he's got it figured out now. Kerrigan used to wince when I opened the lid of her cage, so I just opened and closed it a bunch, and reached in every time to give her a gentle stroke. She still goes defensive with the tail rattling and the showing me her junk, but she doesn't seem genuinely disturbed anymore when I reach for her. She prefers to climb out of her cage on her own too, so I just leave her lid off unless I'm harassing her to check for impaction, which means I gently stroke and then scoop. With Aki it's a bit different. His perches are removable, so I just take the perch he's on out and then splat him in my hand. He feels the warmth and will eventually move onto my arm. If he feels like it. Sometimes he doesn't.

So if she's flinching it's just an initial startle response, so just keep bugging her and she'll get used to it. Don't boop her snoot though, balls really don't like that . If she's recoiling or going into a ball, just treat her like a hedgehog and pick her up anyway. If she's recoiling into an S shape with her head raised, or tongue flicking excessively, that's a threat or a feeding response, so you'll want to tap her with something other than your hand and then pick her up so she doesn't always assume the lid opening means food. But yes, it's basically just repetition and not showing that you're intimidated. If you're nervous, she'll get nervous, and then she'll get defensive. If she's just wincing a bit or balling up, dive right in and scoop her. She'll get used to it soon.

Remember, there's no reason to be nervous! The worst things she can do are bite or go potty on you. You've already been bitten so you know it's not that bad. Honestly, being crapped on is way worse than being bitten. Just keep pestering her and you'll both get used to it in no time!
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Old 04-28-2016, 11:43 PM   #123 (permalink)
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Thanks for the advice!!! She usually recoils and flinches a bit. How violent the reaction is usually tends to be based on how long since I last had her out, plus obviously she's more startled when it's close to shed. I usually just pick her up anyway & she calms quickly, but the initial startle kind of makes us both a bit jumpy at first. I usually do touch her first, then take the hide off to actually pick her up. And yeah, I always get a little annoyed at videos & gifs of people booping their ball pythons on the snoot/head. Most of the time the snake jerks back or even balls up! They're already so shy, I don't understand why you would intentionally scare them or think that's cute. And I've read before (and Charis confirms this for me) about how head-shy they (and I'm sure other snakes) are.

Tonight she actually did go defensive - recoiled into the 's' position. No bite though as I picked her up quickly & her initial panic subsided into "Oh...you. I remember you.". And once I had her, I realized the reason for the reaction - she's almost pre-shed! Not quite blue-eyed yet, but she's heading that way. She's got the pink belly, and her skin looks a bit dull in spots. I checked my previous posts on here & sure enough, this weekend is 6 weeks since the last one. So that calmed my panic because she was acting weird. I'm getting paranoid anytime anyone here acts weird now. I kept her out since she's not quite blue-eyed & this means no handling next week. She uncharacteristically stayed in my lap, hiding her head under my hand/herself, which she never does (never balls up either - just once, after falling off a bookshelf). Knowing what was going on kept me from panicking too much though, and we just spent a little while being quiet like that. I sprayed her tank down, changed her water, and soaked her moss before I put her back in, and got my humidifier going so I can keep the humidity up for her for the next week or so.

And now I have Princess Bindi perched on my shoulder for some snuggles. She's doing much better now that I've reminded her that I'm still around and will be bugging her more often again. She's been trying some new fruits lately as I picked up some baby food in different flavors. Wasn't initially impressed with peaches or pears, but she just got peaches for the second time last night & ate all of it. I really need to place a huge insect order again soon too. Starting to run low on numerous things, especially since she's been sharing with Pancake lately.

Pancake's doing okay. Still HATES her Denamarin with a passion, which is making that difficult. I mixed it with a little fruit baby food today after getting the okay from the vet and it helped a tad....but not much. I've been able to get more food into her today though, with being home. I hate that I'm gone so much with work...I just can't give her as many feedings as I want, or spread out as much as I'd like. She's dropped some weight, which is making me really nervous. She was 520g on 4/22. Two days later she was down to 500g and held at that for a few days. And last night she weighed in at 480g before bed, after our last feeding. I'm going to email the vet tomorrow, especially if she's down again tonight.

So the next one on the list of "causing mommy lots of worry and panic" is Ebony. She freaked out badly at the thunderstorm we had on Tuesday night, and wouldn't stop hiding, first inside the couch (the liner attached to the bottom had a hole in it, she'd crawl into it) & then in the bathroom. After we confirmed she was freaked out by the storm, we left her alone (I'd been panicking that she was sick or hurt). Thought that was the end of it, but she's still acting a little strange. She was still spending quite a bit of time in the couch yesterday, even after the weather was fine again. Then we started wondering if she'd peed in there because it smelled. Then I got home from work yesterday & there were three sizable wet spots between the door & the hermit crab tank. They don't smell all that strongly of urine, but I'm pretty sure it was. Cleaned it up, apartment still smells like something! So today...wet spots in the same place again, she peed a second time last night. Cleaned it up AGAIN, and also pulled the liner off the bottom of the couch. Felt & smelled the carpet under the couch and nothing smells weird down there, so I'm not sure if it was just on the liner or what.

Aaaanyway...now the problem is determining whether it's behavioral or health. I'm probably calling the vet for her tomorrow, especially if she pees again tonight. My ex suggested it might be a UTI, though I don't know if there'd be any cause for it or what. She gets wet food & has for around a month, I think. She's still not eating quite enough most days, but I don't know that that would factor in. I'm also probably going to get some Cat Attract litter this weekend, and find out what the proper enzymatic cleaner is to take away the smell so she doesn't continue peeing just because it smells like it. I don't know what else to do past that. It's silly to hope it's a health issue, especially after dealing with Pancake's health issues, but at least that should have an easy enough solution. I don't know what to do if it's behavioral.

Edit: I totally forgot to mention one of the reasons I came to update - I started working again on the animal emergency care sheets today! I have Bindi and Pancake done. Working on Charis now, and trying to figure out what basic care information to include in case my roomie or Jackie have to take care of her. So far I have her personal information (sex, approximate age, adoption date, weight, food/water specifics, tank specs), primary/secondary/emergency vet info, and food/enrichment/weight charts, and a guide for feeding protocol. I think I'm going to include signs for shedding, care info for that time, & what to do with a shed gone badly. Also a behavior/body language guide that has information on handling, and a list of emergency symptoms. I'm not sure if there's anything else to include after that or not. Any suggestions are welcome! After Charis's info is done, I'll probably do Ebony, and then the hermit crabs. Hoping to at least get the hedgies & Charis done so I can print them out this weekend as I really need to start tracking their weight & such better.
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Old 04-29-2016, 12:22 AM   #124 (permalink)
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Silly Charis. There's no point acting tough around the person who feeds you! Illidan gets a little touchy when he starts to turn pink too. She's shedding so much, it's awesome! Sherlock couldn't care less about snoot boops. He climbs up onto my finger when I boop him. But it completely depends on the snake and balls really are notorious for being head shy.

I'm glad Bindi is getting back into a routine! Finn's never had peaches. He didn't like pears though, at all . He even made a icky face.

I really hope Pancake's weight stabilizes. Poor girl has been through so much.

Ebony, too. That's so sad. Did you try putting a backup litter box where she's been peeing? When my first cat had a UTI she'd go all over, not just in one main place. I hate to say it, but at this point it sounds behavioural, which means really appealing litter, cleaner with the pee-breakdown enzyme (I like Nature's Miracle, not sure if you have that one there), and if need be, limiting her movement around the house until she gets the hang of things again. A friend recently got two barn cat kittens and had to confine them to the space between the back door and the rest of the house (basically a small mud room) for quite a while until they got the hang of going in the box, because they were so weirded out by the environmental change. I had to do the same thing with Oz when he forgot how to go outside for a while there. Barricades everywhere and in the crate if I wasn't home. It sucked, but it worked.

My sheets are pretty simple, but anyone who will have to take care of my crew already has a fairly good idea of what to do and knows everyone's personalities. Here's some samples:

Header on the whole file:
Quote:
Emergency contact info:
My Cell: (Cell number)

The closest exotic vet:
Park Veterinary Centre
101 Broadway Blvd
Sherwood park, AB
T8H 2A8
780 467-1119

Oz's vet in Camrose:
Camrose Veterinary Hospital
4712 41 St
Camrose, AB
T4V0Z6
780 672-3171
OZ IS REACTIVE WITH VETS

If you're working with the saltwater fish tank and have flu-like symptoms:
Go to emergency and tell them you have been exposed to Palytoxin
List your symptoms
To prevent this, use gloves and tongs, not fingers!
A sample entry:
Quote:
Sherlock (Mexican Black Kingsnake, Black)
Adoption Date: Aug 2014

Daily Care
Morning:
Make sure he's not dead (don't use your finger!)
Check his heat tape wall
Check water dish (you may have to fill it on top of him)

Weekly Care
Feed two pinkies or hoppers once a week. Watch your fingers and use the tongs!
Rinse and fill water dish

Maintenance
Scoop poop and change substrate as needed
Play with snake when you have time. Again, watch your fingers. The pink snake hook is his.

Notes:
Mice are in the freezer door. He gets the smallest ones out of what's in there.
After all of the individual entries, I then have a list of all the animals in the house, name, species, room, and living quarters. Some of them are in odd places and could be forgotten. Like this:
Quote:
Salamanders
Squee and Shaw
Living room
Under Pepper
I'd love to see some samples of yours when they're finished, in case I forgot something!
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Old 04-29-2016, 01:22 AM   #125 (permalink)
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I keep wondering if her shedding pace is normal or not! Like, it seems to be from what I've read, but it just seems to happen so much.

The problem with barricades is the apartment is too open to do that too much. The kitchen, dining room, and living room, are all quite open to each other, and the kitchen is so small I'd hate to barricade her just in there. Then we have the two bedrooms - I can't have her in mine due to Pancake's tote, and I don't know that roomie wants to risk her peeing in theirs!! And the bathroom is even smaller than the kitchen, sigh.

We do have Nature's Miracle, I'll grab some on Saturday when I go to Petsmart. The only thing I can think of that's changed is that I added a bunch of litter to her box on Saturday when I scooped it - but that was several days before the behavior started, and I can't figure out why more litter would cause that kind of reaction. She seems to like digging in it, and more is better than less, right? It's still only 4-5" deep, I think. If it comes down to drastic measures, we can figure something out to barricade her in the kitchen, maybe. Hopefully that won't be necessary.

The two people that are my back-ups for my critters (roomie & Jackie) know a little about different animals & both know where everyone is, at least. But there's enough that each don't know about some animals that I figure I'll just do some general care info for each animal, just to cover the bases. Ebony will be the easiest, both are familiar with cats anyway. Jackie obviously knows hedgehogs, but I have all of their general care for the roomie. And I need the general care on Charis for both of them since no one has much experience with reptiles.

Here's a sample of Charis's personal info page as it's the shortest (Bindi's diet section is long, of course):

Quote:
Name: Charis -my last name-
Birthdate: unknown, estimated age ~8 years
Adoption date: 12/5/15
Sex: Female (confirmed via probing)
Weight: 1350g
Personality: Very laid back. Will startle & jerk when first touched in tank – touch once, then go ahead & scoop up carefully. Rarely bites (only if mistaking you for food – follows after holding very still, then wiggling head back & forth slightly), rarely balls up. Likes to explore cautiously. Will try to climb – be careful as she doesn’t have good balance & is heavy-bodied, so likely to fall. High falls can cause serious harm. Likes to find a sheltered place (behind/under pillow or blanket, etc.) to curl up in after tired of exploring.

Food and Water

Water: Kansas City tap water
Food: whole rats (large to extra large, can manage small jumbo), whole guinea pig (extra small to small). Food weight ~200g – should be 1-1.5x the thickness of thickest part of snake’s body. Food purchased from Pet World Lawrence (local) or ordered online from Hare-Today & kept frozen until use.
Supplements/medications: currently none

Environment

Sleeping area: Favors middle-of-tank fake desert rock hide
Temperature: 80-82F ambient, 95F hot spot
Heating system: Heat mat on back, no thermostat; 100w CHE lamp with Zilla thermostat for hot spot (front left corner, above wood half-log); use temperature gun to verify hot spot temperature
Humidity: Must stay 55-70%; keep between 65-75% when pre-shed until shed is complete
Light schedule: 8am-8pm, light on timer
I like your little list of schedule things! I may add in my schedule for each animal once I have that done. I'm working on it now...though I should've gone to bed two hours ago. Oops?

For their veterinary info, I have the name of the vet that usually sees them, the name of the vet clinic (with the website link next to it), phone number, address, and hours they're open during so that whoever's taking care of them have a quick reference for who they can contact if needed.

I also have contact information listed for both my roomie & Jackie - name, relation, phone number, address, and what they can be contacted for (roomie for immediate care, Jackie as a backup & for long-term care). Just in case someone that isn't one of those two people were to be in charge of the critters (being boarded or petsat by someone else).

Hm...now that I'm thinking through potential situations, I'm wondering if I should make up a smaller "bare essentials" list of everyone, location, and the emergency contacts to post on the fridge. In case someone comes in due to an emergency & needs to contact someone who can care for the animals.

....I like to overthink and overprepare, can you tell?
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Old 04-29-2016, 01:36 AM   #126 (permalink)
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I think her shedding is perfectly normal. She's on a much more normal, steady feeding regime now, which will cause her to shed more. Illidan sheds every 6 weeks or so, too.

Darn open concept layouts. Hopefully the Nature's Miracle removes the smell and she stops thinking it's okay to potty there and the problem is solved.

When you have 384547859546438393 animals you need to include the schedule or I think my helper's head would explode . I've simplified it down to the basics because odds are I'll never be gone over a week and I don't want to be overwhelming. At some point in the near future I'm going to compile an emergency pet manual with absolutely everything in there.

I forgot to add it here, but I also have a list of where supplies and emergency kits are located, and what to use when. My two main vet contacts are posted on the fridge on the back of a picture of Oz, so it just looks like a cute picture, but if I leave I can flip it and there's all the stuff.

Being overprepared is way better than being underprepared. When Rocket's CHE nearly burnt the room down I realized I had to get my you-know-what together in case anything serious happened. As I was running around grabbing totes and carriers and animals through the smoke I knew that I needed to plan everything out for next time. Now the carriers and totes are easily accessible and obvious to anyone in the rooms, emergency kits are labeled and obvious to a degree, and I have exit strategies in place for everything except the saltwater tank and the frog tank, which, sadly, will not make it out of a fire due to weight and the inhabitants being skittish. But everything else should survive now. I know they say to get yourself safe and leave everything else, but the firefighters here are volunteers and I just can't trust them the way I can trust myself to get everything out. So I agree completely that excessive planning is good, as long as you can keep it all straight in an emergency. I go over everything every so often to make sure I remember it all in a crisis, and I've made it as simple and obvious for crazy stressed me to handle.

As for sleep, bah, who needs it?!
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Old 04-30-2016, 12:50 PM   #127 (permalink)
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Yeah, I keep getting told that I have too many animals, or have a lot of animals, and I just look at whoever says that and go "...Wanna bet?". Because I know several people, you included, that have more! Gotta have good pet sitters once you get to more than 2 or 3. At least you're good to your helper & leave good instructions for everyone's care. It's even more of a nightmare petsitting when the owners leave half-uh...hearted instructions. Also I would have more animals if I wasn't dealing with mental health currently! It's still not ruled out for the future - I still want a gecko, dang it.

Ooooh, I didn't think about a list & how-to for emergency supplies! That sounds like a good idea, I may add something like that in to my sheets as well. Glad you mentioned it!

Yeah, there is NO chance of me getting just myself out without attempting to grab every animal, at the very least. Someone would need to hold me down outside if any of them was left inside, especially if no one else was going in for them. Unfortunately, the crabs are likely to be left as well, for the same reason - if anyone's dug down, I couldn't find them in time & they're just as likely to die anyway, and I won't disturb them for tornado warnings due to the frequency & stress involved with that too. However, if there is a definite imminent danger (actual apartment building fire), I do have a Critter Keeper with some of their substrate in it next to the tank & if I have time, I'll try to grab anyone who's above ground to get them out. But everyone else comes first as they're easier to grab & get out. At least we have two escape routes since we're on the ground floor, and both are very close.

I also kind of want to work out & write down the step-by-step plans for what to do in the event of different emergencies & post them in our living room or on the fridge or something. That way roomie has them & can read them over if something happens while I'm at work or away. We already had one situation like that, when the power went out. It went okay & I was able to respond quickly to tell them what to do, but that might not be the case next time! And that way I also have step-by-step directions to follow if I'm panicking & not thinking clearly.

I also need to clean my room up soon so that I can get things better organized & have what I need, like the carriers, out & easy to grab. Maybe that'll be a project for tomorrow. I'm going to try & finish care sheets today & see if I can get them printed out as well.
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Old 04-30-2016, 10:10 PM   #128 (permalink)
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Geckos are awesome! But definitely get yourself stable, make sure Pancake and Ebony are all good, and then expand. Doing it now would likely drive you crazy from stress.

I'm glad I'm not alone in my grabbing every pet I can in an emergency scheme . We only have one door (weird, right?) so finding an exit is easy, either the door or the second story window, which wouldn't be good. I have a list of notes for if the power goes out here, which I've heard is quite common in winter when heavy snow takes out entire powerlines. I have to manually stir the saltwater tank's water to keep the fish and corals alive, so that will be awful.

I just cleaned the pet room. And then Rocket got loose. Now I get to start over . It's important though, just for safety.
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Old 04-30-2016, 11:24 PM   #129 (permalink)
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Yeah, I don't need any more stress right now. Any new additions will be towards the end of the year or next year. I still have plans to carry out for everyone I currently have anyway! So that'll likely keep me busy for the rest of the year. I want to get the hedgehogs & Charis moved into their vivs once I get them, I want to set Charis's viv up as bio-active (and possibly try it for Bindi too, that will depend on time & energy), and I want to get Ebony switched to raw and build her an enclosure in our patio so she has a "catio" to hang out in occasionally.

Huh, that is weird that you only have one door! Easy to remember though, I guess. Can you get a small generator or battery pack or something that would allow you to plug in small aquarium fans for the tanks? I would imagine having to stir the tanks for more than a day or two would be a huge headache (and arm ache!). How often would you have to stir them?

Rocket really wanted to keep you busy today, huh? And yeah, safety is why I need to get mine cleaned back up. Right now I wouldn't be able to find much in terms of emergency supplies as everything's blocked off by extra supplies, blankets, etc. I need to see if I can figure out a better arrangement now that I have Pancake's tote in there as well.

My self-care today has been lacking, but I'm feeling really good anyway because my animal care kicked butt. I finally got the crab tank back up to scratch, rinsed out all of their shells & cleaned out the holders (shell shops), changed their water, changed their food, etc. Everyone's burrowed and I think it's partially due to my not keeping the humidity where it should be lately. I feel bad for neglecting them so much recently. Hopefully they come back up soon now that I have it back to their preferred levels.

I also got Nature's Miracle Urine Destroyer spray & sprayed down the area where Ebony's been peeing. Also added a second litter box near that & put Cat Attract litter in it. Hoping this will do the trick!! I called Wildside back home & talked to one of the women that runs it, who has tons of cat experience. She agreed with all of this, as well as giving her more hiding spots to take cover in for storms, and if she continues to pee on the carpet, confining her until she gets back in the litter box habit. She agreed that it sounded more likely to be behavioral than a health problem like a UTI, so we're holding off on the vet visit for now.

And even though I didn't take much time for myself today, now that I'm caught up on animal care & have my schedule laid out for everyone's care & social time (also finished that today!), I can spend more time tomorrow relaxing & such.
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Old 05-01-2016, 01:36 AM   #130 (permalink)
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I totally want to see Ebony's catio when it's done!

A lot of people out here stick a small generator in their garage, but of course, I don't have a garage here. Or a shed, even. So finding something practical that I can run inside the house is the tough part. The ones I keep getting recommended to me run on gasoline, which means they can't be in the house.

A lady on the reef forums I go on had her power go out for a week a few months ago. They were scooping buckets of water and pouring it back into the tank every 20 minutes for seven days. The inhabitants need constant circulation for food delivery and to keep the nasty stuff from growing everywhere so it can get pretty bad. And then there's the problem with keeping the water at about 79F with no electricity. They had the fireplace going constantly and it was barely enough. She still ended up losing more than half of her stock, both fish and corals. So that won't be fun when it happens. I'm glad I mostly have really easy beginner corals that could survive the apocalypse in my tank.

The organization part is the tough part. I have a tendency to stack things, and pick the complete wrong thing to put on the bottom. Before I fixed it I had Finn's fleece liners on the bottom of a pile of pet bedding. I use the liners once a week at least but they were so hard to get to

I figure animals one day, yourself the next day is good enough . Hopefully the crabbies are back up again soon. I can't believe how sensitive they are considering they're sold as easy pets for kids. Yikes.

I hope that does the trick to get Ebony back to pottying in the litter. I really hope you don't end up having to confine her at all. That always really sucks.

Yay relaxation day tomorrow! I think I get tomorrow off, too!
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