Choosing the Ferret Cage

Caring for a ferret is not that difficult. Your docile, furry friend is just as easy to care for as a cat. If you manage to train it while it is still young, you can even teach it how to use its own litter box. There is really nothing much that will make you dislike a pet like a ferret, especially if you are one who loves to have one small and gentle friend in the house. To keep your pet a lot cleaner is to find the best ferret cage where it can spend much of its time, however.

Just like any other house pet, a ferret requires a space which it can call its home. A ferret may look like one thing to another. For those who still have yet to discover this lovable pet, it could seem like a rat, a dog, a cat, or any other curious critter roaming around another person’s backyard. You may have not even noticed it being featured in your local tv show or in a pet store. For those who love to have one or more of them, considers them as cuddly little furballs. The learned and understands the very distinct nature of these curious gentle creatures call them Mustela putorius furo or simply Mustela Furo, which simply means a “mouse-killing thief.”

Ferret Cage

If you are still thinking of owning one, you need to understand what this fuzzy animal requires for proper handling and maintenance. Like many other pets, a ferret needs proper food, enough space, and proper domestication. Before you bring a furball, you need to know much about those things that will make such a ferret live long while enjoying how you care for it.

Ferret Life Span

The average lifespan of this animal that has been well cared for is about 6 to 8 years. There are some that can even live for another year or two, however. There are a lot of factors that can affect a ferret’s lifespan, such as its diet, disease, stress, and even space or the housing provided for it.

Note that a 1-year old is already considered full grown. Once your pet reaches ages 3 to 4, it’s considered middle-aged. But at 5 to 6 years of age, your pet ferret is taken as an old ferret. At this age, you may notice that your pet is slowly losing weight and is starting to develop debilitating illnesses. This may be a difficult time for you as you will soon have to say goodbye to your good-natured pet.

It is quite unfortunate that such a pet has a genetically flawed feature that makes it prone to diseases. Even then, a ferret is an amazing pet and has an incredible desire to fight for its life. You can also do your part to help, and if you are able to provide a perfect environment where it can live longer, you can get to enjoy more time with your furball.

Choosing the ferret cage

One thing that you need to know about ferrets is that they can also be trouble magnets. If you are not able to ferret-proof your house, you might just find out one day that your pet has messed up so much around the house. If you have another pet, a dog or a cat perhaps, you may even see them terrifying them. They can be quite busy and playing hard for a length of time that your little bugger has found a way through the cracks and crevices in your home and started finding more nooks where it can play around in. And as domesticated ferrets don’t fear humans, you may find your pet in high-spirit at times.

A ferret will usually need a lot of attention, so if you cannot give your pet that much time, you will need to find a playmate for it. If you leave one unattended for a long time, it may cause stress that can lead to some serious health issues to your little friend.

If you let your furry friend, it can sleep for as long as 18-20 hours. Its sleeping habit may change, depending on factors such as the space provided for it, availability of food (or its diet), presence or absence of competition, and so on. During the few hours that your pet ferry is awake, it can be playing or doing a lot of mischievous things.

Things to consider when finding the right care for your ferret

Don’t let your furry friend escape from its cage just to get to where it wants to be or do what pleases it. You need to make sure that any door on its ferret cage can close real tight. The wires on its walls should be about 1.5 cm to 2.50 cm wide, the bottom should be solid, so there won’t be any chance that your pet will be getting out or getting stuck or injured while trying to get out.

You will also need to provide a separate space for sleeping, eating, and relieving of its body wastes. Having levels within the cage will help to accomplish this. You will also need to make sure that there won’t be anything that your pet can chew that will cause any discomfort or sickness to your ferret.

The best you can do to ensure that your pet is comfortable inside its cage is to observe how it moves about and uses its space. Anything that your pet does not use should be removed from its housing. You may also need to check on related animal welfare rules within your city or locality to guide you on the proper handling and management of a ferret that is under your care.

THE SANTA ROSA PROJECT

The Spay Austin Coalition was recently notified of a desperate situation on Santa Rosa street in east Austin by Shadow Cats rescue. Feral cat trappers Julia Hilder (Spay Austin Coalition President) and coalition member Calene Summers (Thundering Paws) answered the call only to find one of the worst situations they could imagine.

What started as a few cats and kittens in a yard soon became the reality of an entire block overrun with wild cats and kittens. One of the neighbors puts food out regularly, the others throw out food scraps for the cats to scavenge. As Julia and Calene began trapping the first few cats they quickly realized there were many more than originally reported. As Julia was trapping one day, a resident pointed to an orange tabby and said, “That’s the mother who started it all”. Her current litter is living in a box on the front porch.

The cats have staked out their territory in individual yards, living in bushes and under cars and homes. Several litters of kittens, in addition to the one on the porch, have already been born and the females without new kittens are pregnant and will give birth any day.

santarosaSo far more than 20 kittens have been removed from the neighborhood and, had they not been rescued, would have been doomed to a life of misery. One kitten was found limping down the street with a broken femur after being hit by a car. Julia rushed this tiny kitten to Riverside Veterinary Clinic where a pin was placed into her leg. She is indeed one of the lucky ones.

The adults are too wild to be adopted so they are being spayed and neutered, then returned to the neighborhood where they will continue to live, but will no longer contribute to the overpopulation problem. The process of sterilizing feral cats and replacing them where they were found is called Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR). TNR naysayers contend the cost of surgery for these homeless cats is not worthwhile and would be better spent on family pets. However,  studies have shown not only does it stop the breeding cycle, the cats have claimed the area as their own thereby preventing new cats from moving in to start the cycle all over again.

Of course, all it takes is two intact cats abandoned in that neighborhood, which is why it’s so important to spay and neuter all pets at an early age. The Spay Austin Coalition began as a concerted effort by a number of animal welfare groups working together to reduce the number of animals killed at the Town Lake Animal Center. After six years, our efforts have started making a difference. We were chosen as the group to assist the director of TLAC in drafting the original guidelines for the citywide TNR efforts that continue today. The ASPCA funded a grant called Mission Orange that provided resources directly to spay/neuter programs in Austin, including specifically for feral cats.

If you are interested in helping the Spay Austin Coalition in our efforts, please consider donating today. If you want your funds to go directly to the Santa Rosa Project, Shadow Cats Rescue has set up a funding page. All of the donations through that portal go directly to the care of the Santa Rosa cats and kittens.

If you want to donate without specifying a project, simply use the Paypal button in the upper right corner of this page. The Spay Austin Coalition is an all volunteer organization with IRS 501(c)(3) status. All donations are tax exempt and go directly to the care of the animals we work with. We have no – zero – paid staff or administration costs.

If you don’t have the funds to donate, please consider fostering or adopting a kitten (or two, or three). To foster or adopt, send an email to president at spayaustin dot com, or check the President box on our contact form. The socialization of these kittens at an early age insures they will be suitable for adoption, where they will live a long and happy life as part of a family. Maybe yours.

UNDERSTANDING CATS AND PREDATION

Many studies have shown that cats do not have a detrimental impact on wildlife on continents. However, many people still feel that cats are to blame for the depletion of songbirds and other animals. Two studies most often quoted to support placing blame on feral cats are the Stanley Temple study and the Churcher/Lawton study. Some individuals and groups use these studies in misguided efforts to discredit Alley Cat Allies’ and others work to humanely control feral cats. However, over sixty studies on feral cats have been written from different continents throughout the world—all showing three very important points:

1. Cats are opportunistic feeders, eating what is most easily available. Feral cats are scavengers, and many rely on garbage and handouts from people;
2. Cats are rodent specialists. Birds make up a small percentage of their diet when they rely solely on hunting for food;
3. And, cats may prey on a population without destroying it. If this were not so, we would no longer have any mice around.Even though some cats can become efficient hunters and do kill birds, many international biologists agree that only on small islands do cats pose a severe threat to the wildlife populations. They agree with biologist C.J. Mead that “any bird populations on the continents that could not withstand these levels of predation from cats and other predators would have disappeared long ago.”

And finally, while many concentrate their efforts on blaming cats, the real culprit, homo sapiens, goes free; continuing the destruction of habitat, hunting, killing, and using pesticides that endanger entire populations of wildlife, including millions of birds. The following is a collection of opinions from experts who have studied feral cat predation and who do not blame cats for detrimentally impacting wildlife.

OPINIONS FROM THE EXPERTS

The following is an excerpt from Roger Tabor’s Understanding Cats, (The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc.: New York/Montreal, 1995).

“From the mid-nineteenth century mankind’s own numbers and destruction of huge areas of virgin planet surface have exploded exponentially. As man thrived, so did the domestic cat due to the massive increase in food supply for both house and feral animals.” (pp. 8-9)

“Cats hunt, catch prey, and eat it—they are carnivores. To expect them not to hunt is unreasonable both because of their biology and the natural order of things. Almost incredibly, in the USA there is a growing idea that carnivores are somehow immoral. Although that view may be extreme, that cats catch birds causes cat-owning bird lovers much concern…

“While the size of the range of rural feral cats reflects their prey requirements, prey is not necessary for the survival of domestic house cats, their range sizes are independent of its abundance. While this could make them more of a danger to wildlife, this does not occur for a number of reasons….Not all house cats are competent hunters and most only catch prey occasionally….Although cats are superb hunters, it is their scavenging ability that allows them to survive as feral-living animals and live with us eating food off a saucer.

“Contrary to common belief, cats do not catch many birds, but mainly small mammals. Proportionately, town cats will catch more birds than their country cousins. What is often overlooked is that although cats are far more common in towns than in the country, so are birds! As well as feeding cats, we also feed birds. We provide artificial nest sites in the form of nestboxes and buildings. Our gardens provide good habitat in the form of rich scrubland, with excellent insect support due to an increased flowering time in the year, and lawns with abundant earthworms. Our actions can be seen as providing optimum conditions to maximize bird numbers! Consequently, when Chris Mead of the British Trust for Ornithology assessed the numbers of ringed garden birds caught by cats, he found that they were not having a harmful effect on bird populations.”( pp. 101-102)

Are concerns of cat predation and effects on birds/wildlife valid?

Jeff Elliott wrote an extensive article for The Sonoma County Independent, “The Accused,” (March 3-16, 1994), which investigated frequently used studies that implicate cats in the decrease of wildlife populations. Following is an excerpt from the article listing the studies and his findings of their accuracy.

“But what do those studies actually say? And how good is the science in them? Here’s some background on the two most frequently mentioned studies, cited in Cats and Wildlife: A Factsheet from the National Audubon Society. “Britain’s 5 million cats kill about 20 million birds per year’

“Studying the hunting trophies brought home by 78 cats in a single English village, Peter Churcher and John Lawton found birds were 35 percent of the kill —by far the highest estimate in any such study. In a 1989 condensation for Natural History magazine, they multiplied their results by the estimated number of cats in the entire nation. Rarely are projections made with such limited data, except in junior high science projects—which may be an appropriate comparison, considering Churcher teaches at a boys’ school.

“Researchers in Wisconsin cite cats for killing 19 million songbirds.

“Doctor Stanley Temple, co-author of this frequently quoted work, seemed exasperated when asked again to rehash his findings. ‘The media has had a field day with this since we started,’ he sighed. Those figures were from our proposal. They aren’t actual data; that was just our projection to show how bad it might be.’ No one interviewed has seen Temple’s unpublished research.

“But the [Sonoma County] supervisors appeared to give special attention to a letter written by Drs. Peter Connors and Victor Chow, UC/Davis researchers working at the Bodega Marine Laboratory. By projecting the numbers cited from Wisconsin and Great Britain, they estimated 500,000 Sonoma County birds are killed by cats annually. In a telephone interview, Connors said he has read only the condensation of the British study and has seen only “extracted forms” of Temple’s work, which of course were guesstimates for the proposal. He was surprised to learn this study was unpublished. ‘Look, we’re not cat researchers,’ said Connors. ‘I’ve never worked with cats at all; I’m an ornithologist.’ Then what expertise does he have about cats? ‘Vic (Chow) has been participating in a mentor program with Piner High School students on a project tracking feral cats,’ he explained. ‘We had (radio transmitter) collars on three animals. We didn’t do a full study; it’s just a program with high school students.’”

The following is an excerpt from Peter Neville’s Claws and Purrs: Understanding the Two Sides of Your Cat (Sidgwick and Jackson: London, 1992), p. 164. Mr. Neville is the Director of the Center of Applied Pet Ethology in the United Kingdom.

“In England, at least, there is no evidence to suggest that the occasional high mortality of birds due to pet cats has had any damaging effect on even one species of bird, however distressing to birds, bird lovers and cat owners that predation may be….

“In any case, as we have seen, the strategy used by cats for catching birds is not hugely successful at the best of times and only increases in efficiency when the birds stalked are more vulnerable or less able to escape.”

B.M. Fitzgerald, Ecology Division, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Zealand Mead has studied various aspects of feral cats (home range, effect on birdlife, food) and the effects of various predators on local wildlife, since 1970, in New Zealand.

“As Mead (1982) emphasized, the birds in suburban and rural parts of Britain have coexisted with cats for hundreds of generations. And they may now be under less pressure from cats than they were in the past from a variety of assorted natural predators. Any bird populations on the continents that could not withstand these levels of predation from cats and other predators would have disappeared long ago.”

The following is an excerpt from Gary J. Patronek’s, VMD, Ph.D. Tufts University, “Letter to Editor,” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Vol. 209, No. 10, November 15, 1996.

“If the real objection to managed colonies is that it is unethical to put cats in a situation where they could potentially kill any wild creature, then the ethical issue should be debated on its own merits without burdening the discussion with highly speculative numerical estimates for either wildlife mortality or cat predation. Whittling down guesses or extrapolations from limited observations by a factor of 10 or even 100 does not make these estimates any more credible, and the fact that they are the best available data is not sufficient to justify their use when the consequences may be extermination for cats.

“If asking for reasonable data to support the general assertion that wildlife mortality across the United States attributable to cat predation is unacceptably high can be construed as ‘attempting to minimize the impact,’ then I am guilty as charged. What I find inconsistent in an otherwise scientific debate about biodiversity is how indictment of cats has been pursued almost in spite of the evidence.”

The following is an excerpt from a speech by John Terborgh (Director of the Center for Tropical Conservation, Duke University) at The Manomet Symposium in 1989, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.

“The global environmental crisis has caught up with migratory birds. There are simply too many people making ever increasing demands on a fixed supply of resources. It is inconceivable that we can continue on the same reckless path for very long.

“The conversion of forests to cropland, pasture and urban sprawl, the downgrading of virgin stands to second growth, and the conversion of mixed forests to pine monocultures… The inescapable implication of this for conservation is that there is only a limited amount of time left in which to slow human population growth and to institute other fundamental changes in the countries of this hemisphere or many of our migratory birds will be little more than memories.

“One country after another will pass the 100 per square kilometer population threshold in the coming two or three decades. After this has happened, there is really not much that can be done to salvage winter habitat for migratory birds.”

What then is responsible for the decreasing number of birds?

The following is an excerpt from a speech by biologist Dr. Robert Berg.

“Habitat destruction: As man’s development of the planet continues, available habitat for animals and plants is being carved up into smaller pieces. The fragmentation of ecosystems separates populations genetically from each other, and if a particular habitat is not large enough, remnant populations contained within them are doomed due to genetic inbreeding. If there are not enough large areas, chance occurrences such as an extremely harsh winter, floods, localized disease, etc., can drive remaining populations to the brink of extinction.

“Some species are dependent on environmental policy in more than one place. One endangered species of bird, Bachman’s warbler, is disappearing not because there is a scarcity of riverine swampland in the (Southeast) United States in which it breeds, but because it used to winter in the forests of western Cuba virtually all of which have been cleared for sugar cane.

“In some cases other birds have been responsible for the demise of some bird species. Kirtland’s warbler, already compressed into a small remaining jack-pine country in Michigan, was subjected to nest parasitism by the brown-headed cowbird laying its eggs in their nests. The baby cowbirds push the Kirtland’s own young from the nest and are then raised by these hapless birds. The European starling has spread across the United States since its introduction in the early 1900’s, depriving many of our resident and less aggressive birds of habitat. In the words of Pogo, ‘We have met the enemy and he is us.’”

FERAL FOOD DRIVE – SUCCESS!

A huge thanks to all the volunteers, participating drop off locations, and especially to everyone who generously donated cat food and/or money for the Feral Food Bank of Austin food drive on National Feral Cat Awareness Day Oct 16th. So far we’ve raised $198 in cash donations (you can still donate here at the Spay Austin website, wink wink), 674 pounds of dry food in assorted sizes and 2492 ounces of canned cat food.

Urban Living Furniture and Mother’s Cafe are still accepting cat food, so stop by with your donation if you want to help.

Thanks again, Austin, for showing your compassion for animals!

MESSAGE FROM ABIGAIL SMITH, CHIEF ANIMAL SERVICES OFFICER

Dear Animal Welfare Partner:

Beginning April 4, the Animal Services Office will launch a two-month Spring Public Awareness Campaign on the importance of spay/neutering pets in Austin.  As you may know seasonal public awareness campaigns are just one strategy of the No-Kill Implementation plan.

I am very pleased to report with the assistance of the City’s Communication and Public Information Office, the Public Awareness Work group, and the generosity of a local advertising agency, MOSAK, we have developed an exciting campaign that will include the following:

  • Capital Metro bus wraps
  • Yellow Cab Taxi billboards
  • Print ads in community newspapers and the Austin American-Statesman
  • Promotional postcards
  • Radio PSAs
  • Social media and media outreach
  • Fliers, window and bumper stickers

Attached are the ads that will be seen traveling across the city in the next two months and the artwork for the No-Kill stickers that will soon be seen on cars and windows throughout the community.

I invite your organization to help in the City’s effort to educate the community on the importance of taking care of their pets by getting them spay or neutered.  We will have promotional items available for your use at the Town Lake Animal Center beginning April 13.  I welcome you to stop by the Davenport building and staff will provide you with promotional postcards, bumper stickers and/or window decals.

It is our goal to see as many of these stickers traveling around on vehicles across the city, I hope you’ll help us bring awareness to the animals in our community.

The next campaign will begin over the summer and will focus on adoption and fostering pets.  The campaign will have some of the same medium but we will try other vehicles for advertising such as billboard placement, television PSAs and some grassroots marketing that will involve a virtual adoption/fostering component.  You will be hearing more about the summer campaign in the coming months.

My first several weeks in Austin have been very exciting and I’ve enjoyed meeting some of you and I look forward to meeting those I have yet to meet.  Please feel free to call me with any questions.

Thank you for all you do towards our goal of becoming one of the most humane cities for animal welfare in the country.

spayaustin