Author Topic: Suggestions for "assisted living cage"  (Read 9384 times)

Offline knuckles

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Suggestions for "assisted living cage"
« on: January 20, 2005, 11:53:47 AM »
Crybaby has lost the use of one of her back legs, so last cage cleaning, I took her and a friend out of the big tank/combo  and set them up in a 670.   She is still getting around pretty good.  I've found her on the top ledge of the 670 a couple of times.  But I couldn't take the chance that she would get down in the bottom of the tank and not be able to get up the bird ladders to the food and water in the cage part of the combo.

the ALC (assisted living cage) looks so EMPTY though.  I've never really had to set up on before and need some suggestions for things to put in there.

It has also been suggested that I start her on B vitamons and joint/cartledge suppliments.  Any thought on that and on the dosage??

Offline Suebee

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Re: Suggestions for "assisted living cage"
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2005, 12:04:48 PM »
I can't give much advice on the cage part... Once my guys' legs started to go, they stopped going up any ramps, and I always kept the food and water at the bottom, anyway...

But it certainly can't hurt to start on the B-vitamins and glucosamine/chondroitin. I don't know that it actually helped my guys... I think I should have started them on them sooner. I think I am just going to start doing it when rats reach the age of two as a matter of habit from now on.

I still go by the 1/10 human dose guideline, in general, though with supplements, I don't stress out if they get a little more. On the glucosamine I have, I recommends one to THREE tablets per day... so, I just opened up the capsule and sprinkled some into baby oatmeal... it was definitely less than 1/10 of three capsules, anyway. ;)

I think it was B-12 that I picked up. I think I just cut one in half... so they did get a little more than 1/10 there... ;)

Offline Sunilata

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Re: Suggestions for "assisted living cage"
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2005, 12:23:42 PM »
I've never had to do this (I don't have any elderly rats left) but I know a lot of people will either hang a hammock super low so that she can get to it, or just put it on the ground and let the rat snuggle into the pockets like it was a sleeping bag. You said you found her up on the balcony though, so she still has some oomph left in her. If she seems bored are there any toys that she could sit still and play with using just her front paws? My girls love a toilet paper tube stuffed with toilet paper and treats, and they usually just sit there and chew/destroy it, no running around required. That might give her something constructive to do... just an idea though. :)

I never knew you could give older rats B-vitamins and glucosamine! I am definitely doing that when my girls hit 2.
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Offline kmw

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Re: Suggestions for "assisted living cage"
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2005, 12:37:51 PM »
RMCA has suggestions here:  http://www.rmca.org/Articles/oldrats.htm

While watching Nick's super-fast decline into hind leg paralysis, I tend to agree with Suebee that the b-vitamins and glucosamine and chondroitin are best given preventatively, rather than curatively.  But, I'm not sure how I'm going to do that.  Maybe supplement all my rats, regardless of age?  I'm still pondering it, but am still treating Nick, regardless.

Here is what ratguide.com says about glucosamine/chondroitin doses:

1/6 tablet to 1/4 tablet per day of 1 tablet containing 250 mg glucosamine and 200 mg chondroitin. Best result reported at the 1/4 tablet per day ( RMCA article, ?Arthritis in rats, A Remedy?? ).

or

40mg/kg once a day ( RMCA article, ?Care of older paralyzed rats?).

I used to have a b-vitamin dose.  I'll keep looking for it. 

I hang everything lower - hammocks, bird toys, etc.  I also do what Sunilata suggested - toilet paper tubes with treats, pieces of paper towel in the cage bars they can haul off to nest in, or pieces of cardboard or other treasures to stash.  One caution - if the paralysis progresses, you may want to reconsider your bedding choices.  I put a layer of aspen into Nick's cage, like everybody else's.  He was having a lot of trouble navigating it.  I made it much thinner in the cage, and that seemed to help with mobility.  I may look for cheap carpets with rubber backing to use as a cage liner - so they don't slip on the cage bottom, but he won't get hung up and can get traction to move around.
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Offline Suebee

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Re: Suggestions for "assisted living cage"
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2005, 12:51:37 PM »
I actually ended up giving up on bedding completely, and went with a double layer of 88-cent rag rug (from a cheap, dollar-store-like dive locally), covered by an old (or cheap) bath towel. It gave them both better traction for getting around...

Offline desertrat

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Re: Suggestions for "assisted living cage"
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2005, 12:54:07 PM »
You might want to try Shark Cartilage for arthritis as well. I know this sounds weird, but it works for arthritis. I have joint problems and have taken it with great results -- less pain and more mobility. Also, when our elderly dog got arthritis in her hips and back legs we gave her shark cartilage and it helped her tremendously. You can purchase it at any health store.
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Offline bluerattyrat

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Re: Suggestions for "assisted living cage"
« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2005, 01:25:35 PM »
Just a suggestion on the glucosamine, find a senior dog food with it and add it to your rats diet.  I have found my rats like chicken formula with glucosamine, grape seed extract, omegas, calcium vitamin D etc. and it doesn't hurt the young rats to just have good joints when they get older instead of trying to fix them later on.
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Offline Suebee

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Re: Suggestions for "assisted living cage"
« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2005, 01:29:18 PM »
Yup, when I used Nutro, it had it, and the Innova Senior also has it... but I still added the supplement when they got older.

Offline menagerie

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Re: Suggestions for "assisted living cage"
« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2005, 01:33:55 PM »
The 670 is really not appropriate as an ALC. The ramps are really steep. She really needs to be in a cage that has gentler ramps and more floor space.
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Offline kmw

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Re: Suggestions for "assisted living cage"
« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2005, 01:41:21 PM »
Misread your post, knuckles.  I would suggest a different cage at some point in the future, especially if CryBaby's degeneration continues.  It may not be an issue right now, but as the back leg control goes, I had some real concerns about Nick getting his toes/feet caught in the ramp mesh, and possibly falling, or getting stuck, and being there until I was able to get him loose.  Or, falling off of a balcony, because his front half went too far over, and his back half was useless.  You can block off the very upper level, if CryBaby is still moving ok, but you may want to eventually just make it so she can't access any upper levels of the cage. 

I went with a Marchioro Tommy 82 cage for my geriatric cage, up from an R-660.  It has a bigger footprint, which I like.  I'll post pictures of my set-up when I get home tonight.
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Offline DebW

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Re: Suggestions for "assisted living cage"
« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2005, 01:46:58 PM »
With Ted, I used an old powderdoated ferret cage with adjustable ramps and levels.   It had a large floor area.  I used cloth bedding that the sides of the cage sat down on to hold it in place.  He really enjoyed Dearpie's pocket hammocks on the lower level.  Once he couldn't climb the ramps anymore, he spent a lot of his time in the pockets.

I also had to go to flat plates of food eventually (lids of Yogie containers or the small Hagen Daz ice cream lids) because he couldn't reach over the top of a large animal bowl.  All food and water were kept on the lower level when he could no longer climb.
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Offline Adventure Rats

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Re: Suggestions for "assisted living cage"
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2005, 04:47:23 PM »
Misread your post, knuckles.  I would suggest a different cage at some point in the future, especially if CryBaby's degeneration continues.  It may not be an issue right now, but as the back leg control goes, I had some real concerns about Nick getting his toes/feet caught in the ramp mesh, and possibly falling, or getting stuck, and being there until I was able to get him loose.  Or, falling off of a balcony, because his front half went too far over, and his back half was useless.  You can block off the very upper level, if CryBaby is still moving ok, but you may want to eventually just make it so she can't access any upper levels of the cage. 

That is a VERY real concern also. Bosco eventually just lived on the bottom of the 695. He had 5 cage mates so splitting them wasn't an option. I did notice a couple of times his feet would slip into the shelf mesh, that's when I put plastic down for him so that wouldn't happen. If your gonna keep them in that cage, place a hammock as if it is a sling, to be used as a net if Crybaby should fall from the top shelf.

I do have one of these cages and would also think that the steep ramps would be hard for her in the near future and if she needs to stay on the bottom that's pretty small IMO.

Offline scout

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Re: Suggestions for "assisted living cage"
« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2005, 05:18:31 PM »
I can't get to my online pictures to post my senior cage at the moment, so let me describe it. It's a 670 tipped onto its back with the back removed. Where the floor was when it was vertical is a wall. It makes a 2'x3' flat cage with the doors on the top of the cage now. It's been a wonderful senior cage for my crew for years. Lots of room to move around in, no ramps at all, and very safe. In addition, I put a T-Rex heating mat under one corner of the cage (it's a mat designed not to melt plastic). The rats really love sleeping on it during the winter.



It's the cage behind my head.

My guys sleep so much, I just put their food, a sleep box and igloo, and some paper towels/napkins in for them. PJ really likes to use the napkins to cover his food up. Goofy rat!  ;D
« Last Edit: January 21, 2005, 08:07:20 AM by scout »
Scout

Offline knuckles

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Re: Suggestions for "assisted living cage"
« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2005, 05:27:33 PM »
my choices for right away were the 670 or the 690.  The 690 was way to steep of ramps.  I know I'll have to get something else, but need to do something right away.

Offline SR&P

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Re: Suggestions for "assisted living cage"
« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2005, 10:53:53 PM »
Hammocks like these would probably be great for older rats.
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Offline quellykin1

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Re: Suggestions for "assisted living cage"
« Reply #15 on: January 21, 2005, 12:51:28 AM »
I don't know if you use litter boxes, but I had a cut a little door into mine for my rats with bad back legs. Bummer, Knuckles. I hate to see that.  :( So hard watching them get around. Mine always end up on Metacam (meloxicam) for the rest of their lives (anti-inflammatory and pain medicine).

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Offline elegy

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Re: Suggestions for "assisted living cage"
« Reply #16 on: January 21, 2005, 10:33:05 AM »
i got the martin's collapsible ferret cage for my old rats cage. i like it a lot. the ramp and balcony just clip on so you can make it whatever height you want, and it all folds down nicely into the pan when you don't need it. i'm really happy with it.

my oldbies seem to really enjoy hammocks hung so that the corners are high enough that they can prop up to groom, but the middles on the sides low enough that they can get in and out (basically on the floor).

Offline PinkPaws

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Re: Suggestions for "assisted living cage"
« Reply #17 on: January 21, 2005, 11:10:38 AM »
I made a faux lambs wool bumper pad, much like what you would put around a baby's crib. That way she could slide along a wall and not get "bar rub" Fleece would work well too...
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Offline amymckee

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Re: Suggestions for "assisted living cage"
« Reply #18 on: January 21, 2005, 03:24:24 PM »
Here's what I did for Eloise:

I had the main food on another floor but I had a mini food dish and "sink" on the bottom floor. (You can see the yellow dish at the bottom.) I used one of those quick release crocks that attaches to the side of the cage so she could lean on it. It was much easier for her to drink out of.

I also put the hammocks strategically so that all possible falls were about 8 inches at the most. (You can see the green one in the large hole.) Even though she couldn't get around she still TRIED to do everything. At some point you might just have to get a big one level cage.

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Offline knuckles

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Re: Suggestions for "assisted living cage"
« Reply #19 on: January 21, 2005, 04:08:19 PM »
ok, I've been thinking and brainstorming alot about this, looking at turning the 670 on its back etc.   

I did have one other thought that I wanted to run past you all.   I could block off the top floor of my 695 that is part of my tank/cage combo.  That would give them 30" X 18" (540 sq. inches) of floor space vs 24"X24" (576 sq in) with the 670 on its back.  It would also have one balcony that I could use to hang hamocks on.    Using the cage calculator, 2+ rats would be fine in that amount of total room. 

Advantages of this situation is that they could still "visit" the rest of their pack mates through the floor and sides of the cage.  It also would be up high enough that I wouldn't have to worry about the dog. 

Does anybody have thoughts about this??
does anybody think this would work?

Offline menagerie

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Re: Suggestions for "assisted living cage"
« Reply #20 on: January 21, 2005, 04:14:11 PM »
If you do that, I would cover the floors so it's easier for her to move around on. They manage to get non-working feet stuck sometimes.
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Offline mamarat2

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Re: Suggestions for "assisted living cage"
« Reply #21 on: January 21, 2005, 08:23:37 PM »
A quick thought on the glucosamine/chondroiten.....we've been using Cosequin for small animals here, you can get it from most vets I think, and its in capsules so I sprinkle a bit on their food each night.  Dante has improved quite a bit with the stuff, his back end is also going.
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Offline kmw

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Re: Suggestions for "assisted living cage"
« Reply #22 on: January 22, 2005, 12:46:52 PM »
knuckles, I like the idea of blocking off the top of the 695.  Just keep an eye on Crybaby's footsies.  She may, at some point, have trouble moving them across the wire.  If that happens, you can put down runners or cover the whole area, to keep her from catching and twisting her back feet.
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Offline Sapphire_Rats

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Re: Suggestions for "assisted living cage"
« Reply #23 on: January 22, 2005, 01:01:34 PM »
Off Topic :

Amymckee, when did you get your 695? I noticed it was like mine was! All the ramps and balconies seemed to be "squished" into the middle of the cage. I found that the first balcon is supposed to be about 9 inches (or 9 little squares, lol) from the middle floor, and the top balcony is supposed to be about 9 inches from the middle ramp as well) I had to readjust it becuase nothing would fit intbetween the first balcony and the middle floor! Plus the first ramp was REALLY steep!

back to topic...

I read somewhere that a few blueberriers a day is supposed to help with the back legs??? But can't remember where I herad that.
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Offline amymckee

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Re: Suggestions for "assisted living cage"
« Reply #24 on: January 27, 2005, 01:52:23 PM »
Yeah, I was wondering about that! I had to attach one ramp under the floor and there was about 2" extra! I just got mine a month ago.  I was thinking- maybe they attached the bottom floor a couple inches too high.
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