Rabbit Buyers Beware – Desiree Michaels / Spirit Moon Farm

imagesWell, I didn’t want to have to do this.

When I first bought my place two years ago and wanted to get into rabbit breeding, I located a local breeder online who was a member of Rabbits BC (Rabbit and Cavy Breeder’s Association of British Columbia). Her name was Desiree Michaels and she runs Spirit Moon Farm in Cassidy, BC, not far from me.

The first time I showed up at her farm she was very kind and took time out of her day to show me her many rabbit breeds. She also told me that she was a certified ARBA judge at the local rabbit shows. Even better, she said she would loan me a couple of rabbits to get started with since she had no kits for sale at that time. What a nice lady!

The loaner rabbits were Esther my Creme d’Argent, and Rosalind my former Silver Marten doe. I was very grateful to her, and impressed by her generosity. She told me that Ros was initially a cull from another breeder. I was instructed to let her know if I didn’t need them anymore and she would take them back.

Some of you may remember when I bought my two Californians and my first Standard Rex rabbit early last year. Well, I bought them from the same place. I paid what I would consider a good price for them since after all, they were pedigreed. Because I planned to sell my own pedigreed rabbits, this was important to me. I picked up my rabbits and Desiree said she’d have the pedigrees ready in a few days.

Thus began the year of hell. I tried over and over to get my pedigrees. There was always an excuse. She was busy. Her email wasn’t working. She was sick. Her computer was broken. She had forgotten the tattoo numbers (I gave them to her four times.). I was always polite. Months passed.

I called and emailed over and over, month after month until I finally got very annoyed this January and began calling her home phone and leaving a message each day for two solid weeks. Not once did anyone answer the phone or call me back. I was not only calling about the pedigrees.

I had decided awhile back to get out of Silver Martens and I desperately needed the cage space that Rosalind was taking up. She had been loaned to me and had been a very good doe for me, and I was determined to return her in good condition. She was in excellent health and I was proud to give her back looking so good. A month went by with no response. Sadly, I finally had no choice but to cull her.

Around February, she finally called me back after I had left a final message saying she had two weeks to contact me or I would be escalating things. She called on the very last day. She gave me the same story. She was sick, her husband was sick, she was busy, her email was broken and she lost the tattoo numbers. I gave her the tattoo numbers again. She said she’d have the pedigrees ready by the end of the week. I said thank you so much. Then she asked about Ros.

I told her I had been desperately trying to reach her for weeks and left more than a dozen messages saying I needed to return her doe. She told me I should have just dropped her off. Dropped her off? As in, drive to your farm that I wasn’t even sure you still lived at because you never answer the phone and then leave her in the driveway? I told Desiree that I had tried very hard to return her, needed the cage space and that she had been culled. She was not happy and I didn’t hear from her again.

Today I noticed she has put an online ad up selling muscovy ducks. I decided to call. She actually answered this time and quickly told me she was too busy to talk. I asked her if there was any way I could get a deadline on the pedigrees and she angrily said no. I asked her why, and she said it was because I didn’t give her doe back. I reiterated to her that I had attempted to give the doe back for almost an entire month. Then she hung up on me.

And so dear readers, this is where I stand right now. I have expensive pedigreed rabbits with no pedigree. I made my purchases from someone who is an accredited local rabbit show judge. I thought I could trust her, but I made a mistake in judgement.

This kind of thing could happen to anybody, and I warn any potential rabbit buyers that if you pay for a pedigree, get that piece of paper in your hand at the same time as the rabbit. Buyer beware.

Fred is Sick Again – Naturally Treating Cystitis in Cats

DSC_0029After just one time sneaking into the kibble, Fred is sick again. I first noticed while I was in the bathroom a few mornings ago and he got into the bathtub, squatted over the drain and had a little pee. Trying to tell me something Fred? Then he was back to doing the litterbox shuffle, going back and forth from box to box, voiding just a few drops of urine each time.

I wasn’t looking forward to another $200 vet treatment, which last time basically consisted of a shot of antibiotics and a prescription for snake oil special cat food. I decided to do a little more research into natural treatments to see if I could manage his condition myself. A few hours of research later and I decided to try cranberry and goldenseal.

I know from personal experience that pure unsweetened cranberry juice will knock out a urinary tract infection in short order. Fred might not have a UTI, but he is having bladder issues and does have struvite crystals. I was hoping cranberry would help acidify his urine and hopefully dissolve them. Goldenseal was recommended as an antibiotic that helps alleviate infection and inflammatory conditions. Both had been okayed as safe for cats by multiple sources.

DSC_0032I gave Fred a full capsule of cranberry extract in the morning, then a full capsule of goldenseal in the evening, just so his body could process the supplements properly without overloading him with both at once. He is such a good boy and lets me pill him easily. The next morning, he still seemed to be having difficulties passing urine, but was showing no signs of pain or discomfort. He got his cranberry pill in the morning and goldenseal pill in the evening once more. He was in good spirits all day and raced all over the house with the kittens, playing up a storm.

Since he still seemed blocked, I decided to try something new. I had also read many positive reports of people treating cystitis in cats with apple cider vinegar. I know that at any sign of sickness in my rabbits or birds, the first thing I do is put ACV in their water. So far, in two years, this along with good hygiene has cured everything from baby bunnies with no appetite, to quail with bumblefoot.

I chose to mix a tablespoon of ACV with a tablespoon of water, and administer about 2ml by mouth using a small plastic syringe designed for medicating cats. I did this about 3-4 times a day for the next three days and also stopped the herbal pills. Guess what, today Fred is peeing normally!

So I’m hoping we have a natural solution here. Fred must stay on a strictly canned/raw diet. No more kibble for Fred, ever. If he develops problems peeing, I can give him apple cider vinegar and water orally. He doesn’t seem to mind the flavor too much.

I feel if I put ACV in the communal water dish that it will prevent all the cats from wanting to drink, so I may start mixing small amounts into their food and seeing how they tolerate that. I believe I’ll put all the boy cats on ACV since cystitis is more prevalent in males.

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Freshly ground bone-in chicken and necks

During my research I was also interested to learn that male cats with long hair and high stress levels are more prone to cystitis. (Not to mention kibble diets of course.) Fred is far from stressed right now, but he was probably the most stressed cat ever while he was fending for himself as a stray. I know he was panic-stricken when he first showed up. I’ve been keeping him away from the girls so no more fighting has occurred. Here’s to getting things a little more calm and normal around here!