Tuesday, November 20, 2012

And then Came Cat. The New Addition to Our Family.

When I got Loki I automatically figured there was no way I would ever be able to have a pet feline. The idea of having a cat and a bird conjured up ideas of Tweety Bird and Sylvester; these two just cannot co-exist, I thought. I’ve always loved animals and grew up with a kitty named Mariah, so this realization was a little rough, but I love my Loki so much and figured this was in her best interest. I didn’t want to cramp her style and confine her to a cage all day because a cat is in the house.

Fast forward four years. My boyfriend, Corey and I are driving home after a weekend at my parent’s lakehouse for Memorial Day. Corey slams on the breaks believing he sees a rat, but what he has actually spotted is a very small kitten. We pull over, and naturally, being the animal lover I am, I get out to see where it went. We are on Highway 27 and about two hours from home. The little kitten scampers into the dense brush behind a barb wire fence. I can’t spot it but I follow the meows. The sad cry for help gets closer and I bend down to finally catch a glimpse of a kitten in really poor shape. She is behind the barb wire and only one of her eyes is open. I cannot reach for her; she is too far back behind the fence. She looks terrible; not cute at all. She looks like she may have mange. I figure if I can get her to come out, I will take her to a shelter because I cannot keep her with Loki. So, I summon my best momma meows and within a few seconds I am greeted by the sweetest, most appreciate tortie kitten.

I look down at the small kitten sprawled across my lap. She is so tiny and doesn’t look good. Corey keeps telling me she may not make it, but I don’t entertain such negative thinking. I know she will survive, she must. I have saved her and she will live (yes, I’ve always been a positive thinker and yes, I think it has made my world a better place). Loki is in the car of course. In the backseat, in her travel cage and I wonder what I should do with this kitten. It is late Sunday afternoon and by the time we get home no shelters will be open. This girl needs help today. I have Corey drop me off at Banfield Hospital (PetSmart) and take Loki home for me.

Fleas, severe eye conjunctivitis (one eye is so bad it may not recover), a yeast infection in the ears, and a respiratory infection. That’s the long list of afflictions the vet tells me are plaguing this little animal. Choxie, as I have decided to call her is approximately four weeks old and should still be with her mother. The vet warns that she may not make it. I have to decide what to do. Do I pay for her treatment? Do I keep her? Will this be an issue for my first baby, my cockatiel Loki?

I pay the $375 it costs for the antibiotics she needs. Hands full with kitten formula, litter, meds, and small cardboard boxes that cat food usually comes in (these will be used as her makeshift litter box until she is big enough to use a regular sized box). It is pouring outside and I struggle with a squirming kitten. She is so small, I place her in my huge purse (see, those big, totally-in bags have a purpose) so I can jump in Corey’s car.

I take her out and look at her little face. Our new kitten, Choxie is going to need a lot of care: feedings every four hours and three different types of medicine, twice a day. I hope Loki is ready for this new addition to our home. I am still worried about bringing a cat to live with a cockatiel, but I could not abandon Choxie. She is part of the family now. And, so the adventures of Loki the cockatiel and Choxie the tortishell kitten begin.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Is getting another cockatiel right for you?

Wow! I have missed writing for my blog! Recently, a lot has changed in my life, namely that I graduated from college and got a nine to five. I have not had time to update my blog or respond to your comments and for this I am truly sorry, but now that I am in the groove of things I will be avidly writing and replying to comments.

Since starting my new career, I have not had much time for anything but work, and unfortunately, that includes Loki. I feel awful leaving her for eight hours while I am working. Of course, I dote on her when I come home, but I still feel extremely guilty leaving her for so long.

I started contemplating getting another cockatiel for Loki so she wouldn’t be lonely. But, adding another member to your flock is not a decision that should be taken lightly.

There are many reasons you may want to get another tiel. You may want to start breeding tiels or you may want another just because they are so damn cute! Or, if you are like me you may want to provide companionship to your lonely cockatiel while you are at work. Whatever your reasoning is for wanting another cockatiel, this is a big decision.

There are several factors you need to consider:

  • Bonding between the birds and you
  • Caging and feeding
  • Getting the same or opposite sex tiel
  • Quarantining

Your new cockatiel and current cockatiel may not bond; there is no guarantee that they will like each other. If this happens, then you will be left with two birds that each demand individual attention from you. On the other end of the spectrum, the birds may bond so well that you lose your close relationship with your first tiel. You need to ask yourself if you are OK with not being number one to your cockatiel.

The next consideration is the cage. Will you upgrade to a larger cage to accommodate both birds or keep two separate cages? Both options will cost money and the latter will also mean more cleaning. You will also need to consider the costs of maintaining another healthy tiel, including additional food and vet costs.

If you are getting another tiel because you want to breed, then you obviously need to get the opposite sex. However, if you do not want your tiels to breed, then I strongly recommend getting the same sex. Keep in mind; breeding can cause lots of complications, including egg binding. If you do not want them to breed or do not have the time to tend to breeding cockatiels then get the same sex as your current tiel.

The last and most important consideration when deciding to get another cockatiel is quarantining. Because birds hide their illnesses so well, you need to quarantine the new bird for a minimum of 30 days. I actually recommend keeping the birds separate for at least 60 days. The birds need to be kept in two different cages in different rooms. Respiratory infections are very contagious between birds, so all precautions should be taken to keep these two at a safe distance to protect your first baby.

I decided to ask my vet her opinion about getting another cockatiel to squelch Loki’s daytime boredom. Her response was, “Don’t get another bird, unless you are the one who wants it. Another bird means double everything.” I decided rather quickly that I do not want double everything! So, she gave me some awesome suggestions to keep Loki occupied while I am working, including rotating out her toys once a week to keep everything new and exciting and leaving a radio or TV on for her. I must say Loki really seems to enjoy listening to the music I leave on for her and she seems happier now.

Getting another cockatiel is not for me, but it may be for you. Ask yourself the questions above and take time to really consider if adding another cockatiel is right for you and your bird.