Friday, October 15, 2010


Yesterday I had a scare with my guinea pig, Fiona. She refused to eat and seemed really lethargic. She is also 7 years old, which is beyond geriatric for a guinea pig. It was a scary day. I cried a lot. I thought this was the end for Fiona. When a guinea pig stops eating you have a very short window to do anything, and even if you do anything there's no guarantee. They go downhill really fast. Also, being prey animals, they don't usually show signs of illness until they are close to death.

I took her to the vet and they wanted to do all kinds of fancy things, but she is 7 years old and I said no. I said, what is the least invasive procedure we can do, and let's do that. I just want her to be comfortable. So they injected her with fluids and some medicine to stimulate appetite and help with stomach issues, and I took home antibiotics and more stomach meds as well as some "critical care" mashed up food I was to squirt into her mouth to see if she would eat.

Well, needless to say the squirting food into her mouth didn't go so well, but some of it made it in. I then let her calm down for the rest of the evening and decided to start her on the medication when I got home from a meeting. When I got home, she had eaten a big chunk of pepper I left for her, some cilantro, and some of the pellets in her bowl.

Hooray Fiona!

Here she is, with those big pink piggy lips:

This morning she screamed for her veggies like usual. :)

I don't know if she's better for a while or just for now. Like I said, she is really really old. But! She is feeling better today, and that's good enough for me!

Fiona is a feisty guinea pig. In my head she's always cursing at me for not doing her bidding fast enough. I named her Fiona after Princess Fiona in the movie Shrek because I adopted her from two people who were moving to New York and she had never lived with any other pigs before. She had no idea how to be in a herd, it was kind of funny. She and Lilly get along well because Lilly doesn't realize she's a cat. The two of them seem to have no idea what they are and what their roles should be in relation to each other.

And now, pictures of Roxy and Madison, Fiona's former cagemates who both passed away when we still lived in Houston. Roxy and Madison were sisters from the same litter.


Madison was the dominant pig in our little herd, which I guess I didn't much realize until I introduced Fiona in 2005. She always won the "nose wars" (this is when they stand with their front paws on something and try to get their noses higher in the air than the other pigs, which demonstrates their dominance somehow). One time, when I was living at my parents' house between moving out of my apartment in undergrad and moving into my apartment in Houston, Madison chirped! That is still the one and only time I've heard a pig chirp. They squeak and scream all the time, but chirping is somewhat rare and nobody really understands why or when they do it.


Roxy was a mama's girl. She used to crawl up on my shoulder and sit with her head in my neck. It was so cute. She let me do whatever I wanted with her, like clipping her nails or checking her ears. I felt like she really was a little piggy princess. I had no idea but apparently when it was just Roxy and Fiona (Madison died a year and a half before Roxy), Roxy used to beat up on Fiona when I was out of the house. I used to think Fiona was the dominant one of the two, but after Roxy died I found abscesses from bites on Fiona's butt and back. Nobody ever was bitten like that during Madison's reign, but I guess I couldn't be around all the time to keep the peace. I literally never heard them fighting. They waited until I was out of the apartment to go at it.

Fiona is my last guinea pig. She has been living by herself for almost 3 years now. On one hand I feel bad about it because I know pigs are supposed to be happier in herds, but if any pig is going to be okay as a singleton it would be Fiona. For the first two years of her life she was alone, then she lived for 2 years with cagemates and I'm not sure she ever really fit in. She seems very happy to rule the roost and occasionally come in contact with the kitty.

So this post is dedicated to Fiona, who made a glorious comeback yesterday, and who is demanding I go shopping for more lettuce today.


AmyB said...

Fiona is the awesome-est pig ever. I've loved all your pigs (what's not to love? oh yeah, the screeching), but if Fiona was a person, she'd be a little old lady with her cane, whacking people who weren't paying enough attention to her.

Give her a hug and kiss from me.

Another David said...

Glad to hear Fiona's doing better. She's a fighter :)

Daphna said...

I'm glad she's OK today. That was a really nice post. Now I want to go out and get some guinea pigs.

Kim said...

I didn't know that guinea pigs demonstrate dominance through "nose wars." Hee. I like that.

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