Rats

I had a productive morning planned. None of it involved Summing-Up, but there’s only so much one can do. I was going to read comics, I was going to do chores, I was going to play some Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate (which I enjoy way too much). But not much got done. Some things did; I got to cross a couple things off the to do list. I’ve also managed to misplace my notebook for the second time this week, which isn’t a great sign.

One of the to do items was cleaning the rat’s cage. It used to be the rats’ cage, but now there’s just the one. This Rat Has No Name, since we never did know how to tell she and her twin sister apart. She and her. Did I do that one right?

This Rat Has No Name is a very old lady. She’s outlived her sister–by over a year–but also the two other rats who were with them. She just keeps going. I joke she lives off high fructose corn syrup, which seems unlikely, but there’s really no other indicators of why she’s so long-lived. She’s got some great genes.

But she’s getting very close to the end. Presumably. I thought she was getting close to the end last week and set up the guest bed as her hospice kingdom. She liked it. Or so I thought, until I discovered she’d jumped the bed and gone under the door to explore the rest of the house. She and Gregory the cat had an almost tragic meeting. Well, maybe not. It’s unclear if Gregory would’ve attacked her or rolled over for pets.

When I put her out this morning to clean the cage, I noticed she was weak and unable to stay upright. She can’t support her hind legs, but she’s got to run around and explore. I thought about leaving her out on the bed, thinking she wasn’t going to be able to get in trouble with her medical situation, but after observing her for about two minutes, I realized she was still going to try to get around–off the bed–and probably end up on the floor. Next time she might meet Fozzy the cat, which wouldn’t end well. Shaz… Shaz might actually leave her alone. A different rat bit Shaz’s tail when Shaz was a kitten; Shaz’s been wary of the species since.

After cleaning the cage, which had the least wear and tear ever on the bedding, I carefully picked up This Rat Has No Name and brought her over to the cage. She had no interest in going inside. She kind of burrowed against my inside elbow, which is a little strange since we’re not exactly the best buds. Not because there’s anything wrong with This Rat Has No Name, but because she came with three roommates and they were already bonded. She didn’t need much socialization outside them and it’s not easy to have rats out with the cats anyway.

I took her back to the bed and just sat around, gently petting her, holding her head as she laboriously breathed. One of the other rats she came with–not her twin–died in my hands while similarly laboriously breathing and I fully expected This Rat Has No Name to stop. She did not. She kept close, looking for body heat, and I held her for about seventy minutes. I may have dozed off. I may have dozed off regularly, jarring awake whenever she moved on my chest, worried I was holding her too tight. But no, she’s fine. Because genes.

Eventually, she decided she’d had enough of the cuddling and bit a couple of my fingers–my first rat (out of over a dozen) to bite when displeased. I dutifully took her back to the cage, which she didn’t scamper into, but also didn’t struggle against when I put her inside.

Not really what I was expecting–she was making some terrible breathing noises. She’s carried on for a long time and it sucks she’s got to be alone right now (I fixed up the cage special this time with various soft areas and layers).

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