An update on Cuddles

If you’re a regular reader of my blog you know  about my chickens.

There’s Cheez Whiz …
Walnut …




And Cuddles.

And if you read my blog really regularly (like yesterday) you know that Cuddles suddenly got sick for no apparent reason last week.

In case you aren’t’ familiar with Cuddles here’s a little background.  She’s cuddly. As in, when I walk into their run and sit down on a chair or bale of straw Cuddles will run towards me and jump into my lap.  There she will comfortably lay, sleeping and purring, yes purring, until I really have to pee.

I got an astonishing number of comments and emails yesterday as soon as I let you know Cuddles was sick and I wanted to update everyone.

Firstly, she is still alive. I know that’s what you’re wondering about.

Cuddles and I are both trying our hardest to get her through this sickness but I think we’re both aware it’s a long shot.

Thanks to all of you  I’m taking every route and precaution possible to give her every chance of a recovery possible.  You gave me references, and forwarded my post to poultry pathologists, and poultry experts and vets.  Each had a similar diagnosis.  Which was it could be anything.

I contacted a local vet that one of you made me aware of who deals in cats but is a poultry keeper  himself so is obviously very knowledgeable with hens.

He wasn’t in the office yesterday so I had no choice but to try to keep Cuddles alive and wait.  She was steadily declining and unwilling to eat or drink anything. Mainly I sat and held her and syringe fed her electrolytes. Around the middle of the afternoon she obviously wasn’t feeling well, but I saw her go over and take a big drink and do some preening and foraging. That means … she’s not a lost cause yet.

Then there was a knock at the door.  I opened the door, unwashed, covered in fecal matter I’m sure, with hair that hadn’t been brushed in about 6 days.  Upon flinging the door open, I simply stared at her like I’d just come off a 6 day coke  bender.  I’m really tired you see.  I’ve been up for nights checking on Cuddles. Plus I’d just been on a bender.

Just kidding.

Neighbour Sally said she was upset and had been thinking about Cuddles all day at work.  She wanted to check and see how she was doing.  Not well I said.  My purse was flung over my shoulder because I was actually just on my way out the door to see if I could pick up a syringe and tube at the pharmacy down the street to attempt to tube feed Cuddles.  My goal being to keep her alive until she could see a vet.

Sally had left a comment on yesterday’s post recommending a farm animal doctor that worked just a few blocks away from me.  I didn’t contact him because for the most part farm animal doctors usually deal in large farm animals.  Horses, cows, farmhands named Grotto.  That sort of thing.  Not chickens. But when she mentioned this vet again while standing at my doorstep I thought, meh … I may as well stop by on my way to the pharmacy.

Turns out he is the nicest vet in the world.  He admitted he didn’t deal a lot in poultry but gave me a bit of advice and asked if I could bring in a poop sample to analyze.  5 minutes later I was back at the vet with a runny, gross sample of chicken poo.

I left and Dr. Robinson (the nicest vet in the world) said he’d get the results back to me in half an hour.  Her fecal tests showed him that she has no parasites, no worms, no eggs, no nothing.  He also thought she had properly working kidneys and no signs of coccidia (a relatively common chicken disease).

His advice was to take Cuddles off of the antibiotics because from what he could see there was no reason for her to be on them.  He said the only thing I could do now (barring extensive x-rays and testing) is make sure she eats.  He gave me a few recipe ideas, told me exactly how much feed she needs per day and said to gently syringe feed her.

This is how that turned out.



Surprisingly well actually.  Because now we matched.  Cuddles also looked like she just came off a bender.  She had no interest in any food yesterday, but once I got a syringe of gruel into her she started pecking the blobs that had dropped onto  her chest and eating it on her own.  I fed her the prescribed amount and felt good about it.  At least I  knew she wouldn’t starve to death.

Cuddles retired about an hour and a half earlier than she normally would and went to rest on her roost.

Today I will do the same syringe feeding.  And tomorrow.  And the next day.  Until Cuddles lets me know she just doesn’t want to do it anymore or a vet tells me otherwise, I will keep doing it.

I wanted to thank everyone who left a comment of support, a recommendation or sent an email saying they were thinking of us.  I want to thank everyone who even thought of Cuddles throughout the day.

The Internet can be a horrific tool for spreading lies, misinformation, bullying and general poor behaviour.  The Internet breeds thigh gap insecurities.

But the Internet also breeds hope and help …

… along with those ridiculous pictures of thigh gap.





  1. Laurinda says:

    {{HUGS}} For you and for Cuddles!

  2. Kat says:

    You’re doing it just right! One of my go-to foods for sick hens is creamed corn. It won’t fit in a syringe, but if she get nibbly, you might give it a shot.
    Hang in there, chicken mama!

    • Karen says:

      That’s a good idea. There’d definitely be lots of sugar for energy boosts! I just whirr everything up with a stick blender anyway so I could easy add creamed corn to the mix. I also cooked up some pumpkin today which the vet said would be very good for her too. Thx. ~ karen!

  3. Becky says:

    Good luck with all of this. One of my hens died this year… I noticed she was acting funny, and she was gone 30 minutes later.

  4. Cathy says:

    Cuddles is making my heart hurt; there’s always that one patient you do everything for, and he/she stays with you till they get over the hump. I wish I could be there for you if for no other reason than to feed YOU which I know you haven’t tended to since she got sick.
    Take care, my friend.

    • Karen says:

      Oh don’t worry about that Cathy. I haven’t slept in a week but I’ve been eating. I always have food in the freezer. Tonight I pulled out a slice of goats cheese and leek tart and had it with squash, green beans and zucchini from the garden. Not the menu I was supposed to have this week but I definitely can’t complain. Thx for thinking of me! ~ karen!

  5. Lisa says:

    ~ so happy to hear Cuddles is hopefully on the mend ! Sending positive healing energy your way !

  6. Cyn says:

    Love Cuddles’ thigh gap! Rootin’ for her in the southwest desert…

  7. monica says:

    C’mon Cuddles, you can do it! We’re all pulling for you!
    You, too, Karen.

  8. Heather N says:

    I’m so glad that she’s eating. I’m crossing my fingers (and my imaginary thigh gap) that she pulls through and makes a complete recovery!

  9. Stephbo says:

    It sounds like she’s not totally giving up yet if she’s pecking up the slops. I know it’s hard to see your baby like this. Hang in there, Karen.

  10. Bobbi says:

    I am so sorry about everything you have had to go through, but Happy, Happy, Happy that Cuddles is eating via syringe and able to get herself to bed. I love the support you got here yesterday and today. I don’t know much about chickens, but I do know that your chickens are loved and cared for and important to you. Wishing you ALL all the best. Get some sleep.

  11. Grammy says:

    Last night when I saw your post I decided the best thing I could do for you was to stay out of the way so the people who had actual useful information could post and you didn’t need to stumble over my ‘best wishes’ to get to the info that could save Cuddles.

    I kept checking back and seeing all the wonderful people who were trying to help you in numerous ways and I felt the same thing you just mentioned — that the Internet can be a wonderful place if you choose to hang out with the right people, just like in real life. You attract good folks, Karen, so the response was terrific. And I now know far more about chickens than I thought there was to know!

    We are all (even us useless ones) thinking of Cuddles and you. Thanks for taking the time to update the story. I hope Cuddles responds well and quickly and you can get some rest.

  12. Barbara H. says:

    So sorry for the torment for both you and Cuddles. You’ve both been in my thoughts even though I didn’t comment yesterday. I wanted to not get in the way of commenters who had actual information for you. Thanks for the update. I’ll be thinking of you both in the days ahead.

  13. Joanne says:

    Karen, I’ve never posted before, but I read your blog and worried about Cuddles all day. I’m taking care of my neighbors chickens this week while they are out of town. Today I took extra care during my cleaning, gave a few extra hugs and realized these little ladies take much more care and attention than most people think. What will be will be, at least you know you’ve done everything within your power to give your girls a good life. I hope you get to spend many more hours with her sitting on your lap. Try to remember to pee before you go to the coop 😉

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanne! Thank you for commenting today! I like to hear from new people. Good luck with your neighbours chickens and have fun with them. Chickens are 95% fun and 5% worry. ~ karen!

  14. Suzy R says:

    So glad Cuddles is still with us! Hang in there, both of you!

  15. Edith says:

    I’ve thought about you two many times today and was a little afraid to open your post just now. I’m so relieved she is hanging in there. You really are doing all you can and that’s so wonderful. Crossing my fingers that Cuddles will get hungry and healthy soon.

  16. alisa says:

    At least she’s feeling loved. I absolutely, completely, understand what you’re going through, because my hen Ellie is my most beloved animal, and I’ve had to nurse her through a number of scary illnesses that just tore my heart out. She always made it though….and so I have hope for Cuddles.

  17. Robin C. says:

    Hi Karen,

    Glad that Cuddles is still working on getting well. My beloved dog Snoopy got extremely sick last summer – brought him in for blood work and then hours later the vet called and said “he is a very sick dog and my not make it” His kidneys were failing as well as the rest of his organs. What a horrible, helpless feeling! After him being in the ICU for 2 days and not improving, we finally came to the conclusion that he was exposed to salmon poisoning from eating raw trout – who knew that apparently there is a very rare bacteria found in some fish that swim upstream (salmon & trout) on the west coast only that is very deadly for dogs. After putting him on the proper antibiotics, luckily he improved. It took over a month for him to fully recover, but now he is back to hims old self. My point is – you are doing what you can do – and most importantly, you’re not giving up and losing hope. Here’s to Cuddles and a full recovery! What an adorable chicken!

    PS – on an unrelated topic – thank you so much for the heads up on the foot pedicure “machine” – changed my feet forever!!

  18. Lynne says:

    Karen – thanks for the update – I’ve been thinking about your wee one today and wondering how you both were faring. I have two cats and when they’re not well I tend to go squirrelly (not literally). We love our animals dearly and when they aren’t well neither are we. Sending good thoughts your way.

  19. Serduszko says:

    Thanks for the update… You two have been on my mind all day! Glad you went to see the vet and he was able to help. (Is he single? L o l!). Go Cuddles! Go Karen! (And get some sleep!). 🙂

  20. Dot says:

    I know that Cuddles is getting the best care possible because she has you as her nurse. Sending positive vibes to you and Cuddles.

  21. Missnicoleo says:

    Cuddles is lucky to have such a caring mama!

  22. Debison says:

    Praying for Cuddles recovery. And for you too Karen. It is so hard when our pets are not feeling well. And worse, they can’t tell us what feels bad. I know you will continue to do what is in the best interest of Cuddles.

  23. Mark says:

    I don’t know much about chickens, but have raised parrots – which aren’t too far apart on the evolutionary tree. I’m sure you’ve ruled out egg binding, but just in case you haven’t I’m forwarding the link below. Cuddles symptoms don’t exactly match, but birds are funny about hiding symptoms or even the hint of being sick for fear the flock will, well you know.

    Hang in there you two and hope the best for you.

  24. Christy says:

    Go Cuddles! You are one lucky chick to have your mom. Hang in there Karen. It doesn’t matter if our loved ones are covered in fur or feathers. They are just our family.

  25. Liz says:

    You are awesome. You’re gonna write a book. Cuddles, crashes, cucumbers, and all. You’re my favorite.
    Glad to hear to the good report 🙂 🙂

  26. shuckclod says:

    Glad to hear all the good news. I did think about her today as I was picking up feathers from my neighbors past chickens. They don’t have them anymore, they didn’t take good care of them. They got removed, but the mess is still there. Keep eating Cuddles and get well girlie. I am going to use her colors for my fall scrapbook kit. Is it okay to use her picture on a brad?

  27. Pati Gulat says:

    I, too ,was afraid to open the Cuddles update but glad to see she appears to be doing better. Praying for you both, Karen. My first pet EVER was a Road Island Red. I named her Red (I was 9, what did you expect???) . I know you are doing everything you are supposed to do and Cuddles probably knows that too since she appears to be instinctive about sentiment, hence the compassion for the leaving of the fella. ; ) I will keep praying that all turns out well and please keep us all informed. We follow you and the girls for a reason…it’s cos we care VERY much… 😉

  28. Sarah says:

    Oddly enough, I dreamt about Cuddles last night. Glad to hear she’s hanging in there. You do the same, okay? Hugs to you both.

  29. ruth says:

    Aw cuddles. All my best wishes!

  30. Cynthia says:

    Chickens…..a huge life lesson in a packet of feathers with googly eyes. Love and worry, protectiveness and pure joy. Everything we need to learn. Life lessons suck big time….but make for wonderful humans. Hugs. x

    PS I am sitting here with 6 silky chicks beside me and it’s all your influence Karen. You gave me the bravery to try one more time.

    (I lost my son 14 years ago and loving any living being brings fear and joy and is always scary.)

    You reminded me that it’s worth the fear to get the joy.

    Does it matter if my thigh gap is lopsided? I’m 60, give me a break guys.

    • Patti says:

      Hey! At least you have a thigh gap! I’m 32 and I don’t! 🙂

      Sorry to hear about your son. I’m glad Karen was able to inspire you to get some chickens – life is for loving, right?

  31. GiGi says:

    We lost our beloved Sadie two days ago. My heart is broken. I pray you and Cuddles will be spared this pain.
    You have a lot of people rooting for you two!!

    • Karen says:

      Im so sorry you lost Sadie. When you mention you have a sick chicken to people people tend to giggle because it sounds funny. They don’t understand how they’re pets with personalities that you genuinely love. ~ karen

  32. Debbie says:

    Good job. Best Chicken Mother ever. We will keep the good wishes coming.

  33. SeaDee says:

    The most prayed-for chicken on the planet. The Internet holds you both close.

    Bok Bok!

    • Louise says:

      Exactly what I was thinking, SeaDee! With all those prayers and good thoughts from all around the world, Cuddles just has to get better!
      My teenaged son and I are pulling for you, Cuddles!

  34. Catherine says:

    So glad Cuddles is hanging in there, she must know how much you love her. Keeping everything crossed she pulls through.

  35. Zoe says:

    Sending hugs to Cuddles

  36. Kate says:

    I don’t know a darn thing about chickens, but I’m sure rooting for Cuddles to pull through. I thought about your plucky girl today and so hoped she’d made it through another 24 hours, so I was really cheered to read this. Hugs to both of you.

  37. Bonnie G. says:

    I haven’t been around the last several days but am now catching up and reading about Cuddles…. so sorry to hear what she has been through and glad to hear about signs of improvement! Take care of yourself so you can take care of Cuddles. … will continue to send prayers and positive thoughts your way.

  38. Missed the original post, but glad to hear Cuddles is doing well (eating ==), fingers crossed your nursing skills bring her back to full health. Hard work Karen!

  39. Beth says:

    Glad to hear that you’re all still hanging in there – when I had a sick hen, I would bring her inside to the back hall, in a dog kennel (“intensive care unit”) – with fresh bedding it didn’t smell too bad and I could more easily monitor her. I learned that chicken lice don’t stay on humans, but I have no idea what “thigh gap” is! Take good care of yourself and Cuddles.

  40. Cherí Bashlor says:

    Sooo excited she’s eating!!! Praying for a speedy recovery!!

  41. Phyllis says:

    Thinking of ya’…..

  42. Bonnie says:

    Thank you for the update. My good wishes for you both.

  43. Peggy says:

    I don’t know if you would consider an animal communicator and healer, but Bonnie Illies is excellent. She has done work on all animals – even a turtle in India. You can check her out at She is a truly compassionate person dedicated to healing of all animals.

  44. Maureen Locke says:

    Just got up and had to come and check on Cuddles. I’m so relieved to hear that she is still with us. Sending healing thoughts for Cuddles and hugs for you. Hang in there.

  45. Tigersmom says:

    So, glad to know she’s showing signs of improvement. And that you are able to utilize humor again. That, to me, has always been nearly as good an indicator of the current conditions as poop.

    And you are soooooooo right about the internet. The tools that are the most powerful when used for good are just as powerful when used for bad. Nice to see good in action here although I wish it weren’t necessary.

    I’ll continue to pull and pray for you both.

  46. Sally A says:

    Yea Cuddles! I’m sorry you don’t have a definitive answer yet, but so glad you were able to get her poop checked. At least you can rule out some things. I hope you will be able to see the other vet today! I thought about not commenting yesterday because like Grammy and others I felt since I know nothing about chickens I should stay out of the way, but I get so desperate to help that I have a bad habit of sticking my nose in things i have no business sticking my nose in. So hope I wasn’t an annoyance!

    Anyway, Go Cuddles!! Good luck and please keep us updated.

    PS Cuddles and I have very similar legs, however I do not have her sexy thigh gap. I must learn her secret.

  47. Dagmar says:

    Thank you so much for the update, you sacred soul. Anyone who can syringe feed an animal, clean animal poopies, and treat these little beings: whether they be chickens, parrots, cats, ferrets, dogs, hamsters, bunnies, or even squirrels -anyone see that video where the guy saves the drowning squirrel? Animal people are built differently, with some added fur or feathers in our hearts. And you are right Karen, she is your baby, not just a chicken. We’re pulling for you Cuddles

  48. Su says:

    thank you for the update…. I have no experience with hens but I’m glad to hear that Cuddles is still with us….

  49. sue says:

    Glad to hear that Cuddles is holding her own. I kept thinking of the power of the internet while reading the comments you received yesterday. I was also reminded how we can all rally for good. Best of luck!

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