Nobody eats anybody else, so it???s alright

November 26, 2009


Okay, just so you know, it wasn’t my choice to finally write about my furry sweeties. Honest. I am merely a slave to the random topic that came up. So let’s not waste any more time.

My first rabbit (#1) was Hazel. He was a couple of years old when Dhia the cat arrived (tortoiseshell). She was six weeks old and imprinted on Hazel. I had never lived with a cat before, so when she was still spazzing out at close to two years old, I decided she needed a feline playmate. That’s when Yul came along (black). He was about three months old, still young enough to be influenced by rabbitly ways. Dhia and Yul were nice enough to each other, but they both loved Hazel.

Hazel lived to the ripe old rabbit age of 10-1/2. His mind was still strong, but his little body gave out on him. He sat in a shallow cardboard box when I took him to the vet to be euthanized. He gnawed on the edges while we were waiting, until I stroked his head and told him he didn’t have to fight anymore.

Don’t try and tell me we don’t have a connection with our animal friends.

I waited a few months before I brought Hilda home as a nine-week-old bunny (#2). She was a Checkered Giant (papillon), a breed I had decided on a few years before, not that I was rushing Hazel. I named her Hilda because one day when Chris Gargan was asking about Hazel, he called him “Hilda” instead. It stuck in my mind. She was a fine rabbit, and Dhia and Yul loved her even more than they loved Hazel. Unfortunately, the breed is relatively short-lived, and we lost her at 3-1/2 to what seemed like a bunny heart attack. We were devastated.

What am I saying? We’re devastated every time.

I didn’t have any ideas for our next rabbit. One day I brought home Daisy (#3). She was a standard Rex who turned out to be defective in a number of ways. She had a full-blown case of cataracts at five months (successfully operated on), and when she was spayed, the vet discovered she had only one ovary. She only made it to about seven months. I came home from work one evening to find her in a bad way. We went right to the emergency clinic, but it wasn’t long before she checked out. I’m convinced she had fought to hold on until I gotten home and we could say good-bye.

Soon thereafter, I contacted Hilda’s breeder for a new bunny, because I really liked the personality of the Checkered Giant. I brought home Belle(#4), and it was an instant lovefest between her and Dhia and Yul. Those cats adored that little creature, and I was convinced that she was going to be the perfect rabbit. She had all of the character of Hilda without the aggression. (Hilda sometimes had personal space issues with me. That’s how I got that scar on my lower lip.) But alas, she turned out to be a hemophiliac and died from post-spay internal bleeding at four months.

Belle was our third rabbit gone in less than a year. Maybe you’ll think I’m nuts when I say that I think the cats were jaded by all those losses in their reception to Robbin (#5). He was about eight weeks old and the cats liked him well enough, yet were a little stand-offish with him. It was for that reason that when Robbin was about three, I decided that he needed a companion of his own kind. I took him on some bunny dates to the Humane Society, and he picked Bibi (#6). They doted on each other. Bibi had come from another multispecies household apparently and didn’t seem too bothered by Dhia and Yul, who by this time were in their mid-teens.

Dhia had had a kidney attack and had to be hospitalized for five days. The vet was amazed that she pulled through. I visited her twice a day, and then gave her subcutaneous fluids for the last two years of her life. Yul had come down with hyperthyroidism and required twice-daily pills. He developed pneumonia at the end and didn’t make it through treatment at the vet’s office. He was 16-1/2. Dhia developed a bladder infection. She didn’t improve with initial treatment and when I took her back in for more potent antibiotics, she gave me a look willing it to stop. We gave her a different injection. She was 18.

That was a hard one. She was my Sweet Pea.

I figured it would be a good while before I began looking for a new cat. The universe had other plans.

My mom volunteers with the rabbits at her local Humane Society in central Wisconsin and gets me to go to their website to check them out. After I lost Dhia (that was in a March), I casually clicked over to the Cats section and was struck by a bolt of lightning when I saw CJ’s mugshot (black, inset). Look at that little white tuft and that cocked head!

It was April and karma kept her available until I could pass through town in May on my annual Chicago bowling tournament trip to pick her up. I kept directing my mom to visit her to see what she thought. My mom is not a cat person, but she and CJ formed an instant bond; so much so that when I met CJ for the first time, she shunned me for my mother.

That was a year and a half ago. I don’t know if it was the stress of welcoming a new, young, boisterous cat but within weeks of CJ’s arrival, Bibi developed gut stasis (a common rabbit ailment) and never recovered from surgery. She was such a sweetheart, and I was worried about how Robbin would react. Bonded rabbits often go into steep decline when they lose their companion. But Robbin’s still going strong. I think because he was an only rabbit for a number of years, and was very definitely the alpha over everyone of every species, he bounced back with no ill-effect. We’ll just stay a one-rabbit family now.

But CJ and Robbin never hit it off. I attribute that to CJ’s being a twoish-year-old adult by the time she met him. She was inexperienced in rabbit. She knew he was different but didn’t know what to do about it. It was for that reason that I decided she should have a feline companion, because she wanted to be friendly, but there wasn’t anyone to bond with.

I went on a few cat dates and finally decided on Dasie (black and white). She was about eight months old when she came home about eight months ago, and has been the light of our lives. She and CJ didn’t take very long at all before they became buddies. I’m certain that they actually like each other, unlike Dhia and Yul who were civil but always a little chilly.

You might think that CJ and Dasie would gang up on Robbin, but he’s still large and in charge. Neither cat really understands rabbit. They’re curious, but can’t stop themselves from swatting at his behind. This, in turn, causes Robbin to wheel around and chase the offending cat, sometimes back and forth from one end of the apartment to the other and sometimes not, but always with the result of the cat being treed on the bed, window sill, or other high place. I watch his ears. They’re not flattened against his back, so I think he’s not taking it too seriously. And I think the cats believe that it’s an elaborate form of play.

Nobody eats anybody else, so it’s alright.

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