As I write this, it is eight minutes past seven in the morning, and I wasn’t built for this time of day. It’s dark, but the wrong end of dark.
In the last ten hours, Aimée has quit one job and been driven by me to another. I have had around ninety minutes’ sleep.
A nightmare intruded upon what had been anticipated as a four hour, forty-seven minute nap, and I woke in a panic. And that was the end of that. My eyes sting. My thoughts elude me. I can’t go back to bed because I have to take the youngest bunny to the vets to be spayed.
Female rabbits can get terrible lady-problems if they remain intact with no prospect of progeny. Under the assumption that rabbit sperm cannot make it through double-glazing (I think I’m paraphrasing Victoria Wood there, and not very well), Niamh is not destined to have kittens. Indeed. Baby rabbits are called kittens.
As much as rabbits are, generally, quite flighty, Niamh is an extreme example of this. She doesn’t seem entirely comfortable with me. Even I am too tall to be particularly normal. Now, hopefully, some of that is due to hormonal insanity.
For indeed, when she approaches her lady-time, she turns into a rock star in a hotel room: she destroys everything.
During her season, Niamh tries nesting. We thought to ease this endeavour by placing a cardboard box in her hutch, to give her a starting point and something a bit more solid than anything she could achieve with hay and sawdust alone.
We thought to reassure her with structural stability. We thought we were making it easier and therefore less stressful for her. She threw the cardboard box around the hutch all night long, and tore it up through the day. She drove Duchess to distraction.
Duchess is the older rabbit. She is almost fourteen, which is all but unheard-of. She’s the oldest rabbit registered with our vets, and the only animal who outranks Tara the labrador, because Duchess was already in the family home when Tara was a puppy.
A lady at the pet shop had a rabbit that got to twelve years of age. When said bunny made it to ten, the family had thought, not having long left, they should bring her into the house and spoil her a bit with central heating. She moulted a bit but refused to die and made the whole house smell of hay, which played hell with the youngest son’s allergies.
I suspect it’s the relatively recent addition of Niamh and her terribly exciting hormones that brings on the grumbles in Duchess. However, having taken Niamh to the vets, I received a very necessary but somewhat tiresome talk about how rabbits don’t always cope with anaesthesia.
I promise, we have weighed up the options here. If we leave her intact, we risk her being murdered by her ovaries and driving everyone in the household to prescription medication. If we allow her to be spayed, she at least has the chance of a long life and making friends with Duchess.
The vets needed some food to be brought in for Niamh when I dropped her off. I brought a baggy of dried grasses, herbs and flowers. She coped remarkably well in my car, which has been known to rattle, and the baggy of dehydrated greenness fell from the top of her travel crate and behind the folded down backseat. Even this sudden falling from above her head didn’t seem to faze her.
They called just after lunchtime. Niamh had come through the anaesthesic and was both up and about. Indeed, she was quite bright, however they were having to syringe-feed her. Rabbits graze all day long – they don’t have set feeding times. This is why the vets wanted some food for her. A rabbit, not only a small and nervous animal, has a very fast heartrate and delicate digestive system.
They would have to be sure she was eating properly before returning her home. Syringe-feeding was a way of making sure that her stomach was working, and they had hoped she would pass something poop-like before we came to collect her. Nothing doing.
During the operation, the surgeon discovered a slight perforation in Niamh’s bowel. They had corrected this and it seemed the surgery was a good idea, if only because they would have had no means of discovering this peritonitis-bringer without delving deep into her abdomen.
All that being said, the closing of the perforation had slowed her appetite and stopped her bottom completely.
I am completing this post on Friday, two days after the operation. Niamh has finally had some food. We have been syringe-feeding her every two hours for the last two days. Or rather, Aimée has been syringe-feeding her every two hours for the last two days. Niamh still isn’t sure about me but she liked the dried dandelions.