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The subject of intentional breeding or meat rabbits is prohibited. The answers provided on this board are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet.  It is your responsibility to assess the information being given and seek professional advice/second opinion from your veterinarian and/or qualified behaviorist.

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Forum RAINBOW BRIDGE I’m not sure I can live with the guilt

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    • Kunik
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        My baby starved to death with unlimited food. The vet couldn’t find a thing wrong with her… she just had absolutely no body fat.

        We have three rabbits. We had three rabbits.

        One of our rabbits was overweight and the other two were getting there, so we had them on a no-pellets diet our vet approved. We gave them each 3-5 handfuls of greens a night. They had unlimited hay.

        We switched from orchard to Timothy Hay after one of my rabbits was having some gas pain and needed more fiber. I saw each rabbit eating from the hay box so I thought they were fine with it.

         

        A week passed, and we went on a two week trip overseas. We had a rabbit sitter check in every day to feed them greens, check their hay and water, and play with them, and we had family check in on them to make sure they stayed stocked on veggies. We left treats for the sitter to give them when she played with them, and she sent us photos of them each eating their nightly veggies.

        But when we returned, we noticed our youngest and largest bunny looked skinny. Too skinny, but it was hard to tell. She was large in size and liked to sit in a little ball. Jet-lagged, I took a note of it and returned her to pellets, gave her some extra greens, and hay cubes. She ate them all.

        Then I noticed the hay box was a little too full for having been gone two weeks. I watched carefully for two hours and each bunny ate some.

        A few days passed, with no changes. She was still active, still eating at our nightly dinner check-in. Still too skinny. I continued the extra treats.

        Then we found her, dead. It was… I can’t describe the guilt and grief. I asked our vet for a necropsy.

        We just got the results back and she had just … stopped eating anything except what I had visually seen her eat. It wasn’t enough. She didn’t like the hay, so she ate as little as possible, and she starved to death. She was a third of her previous body weight. She had no food in her stomach despite me seeing her eating her veggies the night before. She preferred romaine. She had no fat on her body, just loose skin and fluffy fur. She hated having her sides touched and being picked up, so I avoided it. If I didn’t, I probably would have noticed sooner, noticed more.

         

        I didn’t notice anything else. No abnormal bunny poop, just apparently less of it, which I couldn’t tell the difference with three rabbits in the same free roaming room.

         

        I thought that with unlimited hay available I had seen her eat she would never go hungry. I thought adding back in a little extra food would fix the weight loss I noticed, and if it didn’t, I’d have time to take her to the vet as long as she still had an appetite. I was wrong, and my neglect killed her.

        I love these rabbits so much. I hate myself for not taking it more seriously and taking her to the ER immediately. I hate myself for going on this stupid trip, for switching their food, for working too many hours and not seeing how little she was eating throughout the day. I hate myself for picking this precious animal up off the street and not working harder to get her in a rabbit rescue. They were full, they said. You could foster, they said. But I fell in love with her and the thousands I spent on her medical care, the long hours over the year I spent bonding her to my elderly bonded pair, it all felt worth it. I felt like I could handle three, like I could give her a good home. And she f**king starved to death.

         

        She was beautiful, and she was weird. She was extremely particular with food, partially blind but incredibly adventurous. She was gentle, and loved being cuddled. She was so god damn happy, all of the time… two days after being spayed, she landed herself back in surgery because she popped stitches binkying. The night before she died, I sat on the floor with her, stroking her ears for an hour. She sat chattering, content.

         

        If I’m being honest with myself, I thought she was scary skinny, but I talked myself out of it. She was eating! She had energy, and an appetite, and no signs of pain.

         

        How could I ever justify keeping my two older rabbits? I neglected their sister to death.


      • Bam
        Moderator
        16929 posts Send Private Message

          I approved this just to adress your last sentence, but will close this thread to keep replies in one thread.

          You seem like a very caring rabbit owner. You didnt purposely starve your bun. It is difficult to keep track of everybunny’s individual hay consumption when you have more than one bun. You got them a sitter for when you were away -it is quite ok for rabbit humans to go on vacations. It was unfortunate that whatever caused your bun to not eat enough hay happened or escalated while you were away, but it was not your fault. Please don’t be too hard on yourself.

          Your two remaining rabbits need you.

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      Forum RAINBOW BRIDGE I’m not sure I can live with the guilt