This post was submitted as part of the Pet ‘Net Adoption Event 2008 to heighten awareness about animal shelter adoption.Please visit your local shelter, or Human Society location and ADOPT A PET if you can. Your continued support is essential to enhancing the quality of life for all animals and there are several ways you can help, besides adoption, which includes donations, fostering, volunteering, etc. Here’s HOW YOU CAN HELP support my local Winnipeg Humane Society. Thank-You. // HART
* Reprinted from The WHS Newsletter – Spring 2008
By Aimee Leigh Betker
Rabbits, with their cute whiskers, fuzzy tails, and soft fur, make wonderful companions for older children and adults. As they are not very common pets, there is a lot to learn about their proper care. Zowie is a beautiful rabbit, who had been abandoned outdoors when her previous owners no longer wanted her. As a domestic rabbit, she was used to having someone care for her and did not know how to fend for herself. She was left to find food and shelter, and escape from predators, which may have even been companions in her previous home. Sadly, many domestic rabbits that are released into the wild don’t survive for very long. Fortunately for Zowie, a kind person rescued her and brought her to The Winnipeg Humane Society. Shortly after arriving at The WHS, Zowie was adopted and moved to her new, permanent home. Even though she was going to be the only rabbit in the house, Zowie was spayed. Spayed and neutered rabbits make better companions, as it curbs spraying and aggressive behaviors, and can reduce the risk of cancer.
Caring for a rabbit companion is much like caring for a cat. Rabbits groom themselves just like a cat and can be littered trained (non-clumping of course) just like a cat. They even have a vice just like cats, except in the case of rabbits, it’s not scratching – it’s chewing. Zowie is definitely a chewer. So, first things first – we rabbit proofed her play area, making sure it was free from wires, poisonous plants, and other items that could be harmful to her. Next, we got her many toys to keep her occupied – cardboard boxes, toys made of willow, cardboard boxes, paper she can shred, and did I mention cardboard boxes? She loves them. Just like you can teach a cat to use a scratching post, you can teach a rabbit to chew their toys.
After we had Zowie for a while, we decided she needed a companion of the fuzzy variety. This time we fell in love with a cute, neutered boy named Tigh, who had already lived at The WHS twice. When Tigh first came home, his fur was greasy and felt very coarse, and his digestive tract needed some perking up. A proper diet for rabbits consists mainly of hay (not alfalfa) and fresh veggies/fruits. This diet is supplemented with controlled quantities of high quality rabbit pellet, to ensure they are getting the right mixture of vitamins and nutrients. After a couple of weeks eating a good diet, his fur was fluffy and soft, and his digestive system was back on track. After adjusting to his new home, we introduced Tigh to Zowie for the first time. Due to a rabbit’s territorial nature, we had to be very patient and bonding Tigh and Zowie was quite frustrating at times. But, after a couple of months – letting them take their relationship at their own pace – we finally had love. Now they cuddle, play together, groom each other, and are inseparable. Finally, Zowie and Tigh have a permanent home, where they are cared for and loved, by both humans and each other.