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. Lauren from Winnipeg says:

    Thata girl, Cuddles! You hang in there! So happy to hear you found a great vet. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for her. You have established enough good karma that should carry her through this. Hang in there, Cuddles (you too)!

  2. Ellen & Ron says:

    Isn’t it wonderful that you have friends all over the world who care about Cuddles? We are so pleased that she seems to be a bit better. We send both of you many virtual hugs.

  3. wisconsingal says:

    Wishing you and Cuddles all the best. xxxoxoxoxoxoo

  4. Laura Bee says:

    Yay! So happy – and I need happy right now. I have total faith in you & Cuddles. Love the picture of the feeding – she looks like she’s thankful yet still pissed off. + + + + More positive thoughts for her + + + +

  5. Natalie says:

    You are a great mom! Good luck to you and Cuddles. :)

  6. Raquel says:

    Texas is thinking of you! Sending you lots of positive energy for you and Cuddles!

  7. Auntiepatch says:

    Blessings on both of you!

  8. Kari says:

    I just read the post about Cuddles and I’m so sorry to hear she’s sick. Prayers for you and Cuddles. <3

  9. Shauna says:

    We’re all rooting for Cuddles!!! I wish I had a chicken that would sit in my lap like that, she is very special. I ran to my email this morning hoping to find a positive update. Keep it up.

  10. Suanne says:

    Sending healing thoughts and sincere concern. Keep us posted….please!

  11. Cred says:

    Glad to hear that you got to see a vet who had helpful advice and a test to rule out many things. Not knowing what you’re dealing with is hard enough- it helps to know what you’re not. And good to know she’s eating, always a good sign.
    I didn’t post a comment yesterday since I had no advice to offer and didn’t want to add to the many comments that you had to wade through. But I was thinking of cuddles yesterday and hoping for the best. But I was moved by the outpouring of help and well wishes from your readers. You’re bang on about the internet- the good and the bad, but the good, the support, that it can offer almost outweighs all the body image insecurity created by those countless images of thigh gap (almost).
    Hoping that cuddles is doing well enough that you can get some rest. All the best

  12. Robin says:

    Yes, I too, will now be thinking of Cuddles each day and hoping for a good outcome. I so hope she returns to her old self soon, although she may just like all the attention of being fed like that, so better get lots of naps in so you can keep caring for her in this manner! Go Cuddles! Go Karen!

  13. ally says:

    I’m hurrying to email you before I read the details. Dr. Mike Petrik. He has a blog here: You can google his name and hopefully track down a way to contact him. If you have no luck, let me know and I’ll find a contact # or email address another way.

  14. janpartist says:

    Cant help wondering about how all the other chickens are doing with all of this flurry of activity in the chicken coop…will send a round of healing positive energy your way!

  15. Alicia says:

    I read your post yesterday and all the comments but because I know nothing about chickens I decided not to waste space. I was thinking about you yesterday and today and am glad that Cuddles is making strides. Your neighbor showing up on your porch was divine intervention you realize that don’t you? Take care of yourself and keep us updated. Good thoughts & prayers coming from Pennsylvania

  16. JMY says:

    From a animal lover, ani-mom and a kind, gentle soul to another, I wish you and Cuddles the best.
    Cuddles will get well because she feels your love and your care for her.
    Freeway was one of my babies whom miraculous started eating by herself and recovered from serious sickness when she knew that she was loved.

  17. JeannieB says:

    I’m glad to see that Cuddles is improving. Her eyes look bright in the picture, albeit, she does look a little bit annoyed. Could it be that maybe she just ate a ” bad bug”? I wish you both, well. That Dr. Robinson does sound like a very nice veterinarian

  18. Jebber jay says:

    I’m sending cuddles to cuddles. Good work mama Karen. Keep on doing what you’re doing!

  19. Karol says:

    So glad to hear you are on a better road. Cuddles is one lucky chicken, that’s for sure.

  20. Linda B says:

    Hugs from TN. Hope today is less poopy.

  21. Marion says:

    So glad to hear she’s not got any parasites or whatnot, and that you’re able to get some food in her! I thought about you and Cuddles the whole way to work this morning. Best of luck to both of you, you seem to be a pair of strong, determined ladies.

  22. West Coast Nan says:

    I admire how you put Cuddles’ well being before yourself and your own grooming needs “I opened the door, unwashed, covered in fecal matter I’m sure, with hair that hadn’t been brushed in about 6 days.” That, my friend, is love. With you as her caregiver Cuddles is in good hands and we, your devoted readers, are pulling for you both. Go Cuddles!

  23. Sally says:

    I thought you looked remarkably good when you answered the door. I was expecting much worse. Red eyes, snot…that sort of thing. There was a little of that ‘dear in the headlights” look, but then again you probably weren’t expecting a neighbour on your doorstep at a time of crisis.

    I am so glad you liked the lovely Dr. Robinson. He and Dr. Hall have been my vets for over 30 years.
    Eat up Cuddles!!

  24. Leslie says:

    I’m glad you’ve gotten some backup. That must be a huge relief. I’m also very happy to read she doesn’t have parasites, too.

  25. SuzyMcQ says:

    Didn’t want to bother you yesterday with a pep talk and promises of good thoughts and prayers for you and Cuddles. Pondered your struggle and big heart many times, however. We love our pets, no matter whether they are covered with hair or fur, scales or feathers…..

  26. Jennifer says:

    Hi Karen,
    I haven’t read through every single comment but if anyone didn’t say it….kefir! I give my girls kefir all the time. It boosts their immunity and they love it. I’ve never had a sick chicken in 4 years and I have 30 + chickens at any given time. Maybe you can add it to her gruel. Best of luck to you and Cuddles.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jennifer, yes. There have been a couple of kefir comments. I don’t have time to make my own right now, but if I can find some good stuff at the health food store I’ll grab it. :) ~ karen!

  27. Carol Hogan says:

    Thanks for the update. Thinking of you and Cuddles for sure. Sending positive vibes your way. Hang in.

  28. Karen C says:

    Hang in there Cuddles. You are getting the best care possible. Praying for you both. Take Care Karen.

  29. Melissa in North Carolina says:

    Thigh gap, really…so relieved your humor is back. That means things are looking a bit brighter today. Hope you both got some much needed rest last night. Praying!

  30. Kim C. says:

    Here’s hoping that Cuddles gets stronger with each loving morsel of food. You are a wonderful Chicken Mama/nurse Karen. :-) Glad to see you still have your great sense of humour or maybe that’s the lack of sleep! Crossing my fingers and nonexistent thigh gap too!
    Thanks for the update.

  31. Gretchen Sexton says:

    I leave my well wishes with the rest of your internet crew! So much of what I would say has already been said (and much better too). Know that you are both being thought of and cared about from the deep south. It seems like you have done everything you can possibly do, the rest is out of your hands. (Hate it when that happens…). Hang in there you two!

  32. Ann says:

    Hang in there Cuddles!! Sending prayers and hugs

  33. Nicole says:

    Get well Cuddles!

  34. Luanne says:

    I’m very pleased to hear you and Cuddles are working through this illness together. Your syringe feedings bring back memories for me. I had a 7 year old love bird that was diagnosed with avian TB. After 6 months of daily syringed meds, a lot of worry, washing up, and trips to Guelph, she was fine and lived another 12 years.

    ** Martha Stewart would probably suggest matching aprons for you and Cuddles to wear during her feedings.

  35. Jody says:

    Tears of relief. I was afraid to read your blog this morning. Hooray for Dr Robinson. I don’t have any new words of encouragement–just keep at it.

  36. Anne C says:

    Thinking of you, both of you, since yesterday. First I felt kind of useless to say just that, with no piece of advice at all. But now I feel the urge to write those simple words down… So sorry. And so hopeful, too. Courage ^_^. Anne

  37. Sherry (BTLover2) says:

    I’m relieved she is holding steady. This is how love works… Chicken, dog, cat, snake, hamster… When you care enough about a living, breathing being to do whatever it takes to make them well. Cuddles is in good hands — a mother’s love is the best medicine! Hope you’re able to get some rest now. Thinking of you both!

  38. Jean says:

    . . thigh gap and chicken poop! Please keep us posted. I must say I’ve never felt such concern over a member of the poultry family before.

  39. cary says:

    hi karen. i’m so glad cuddles is still hanging in there. do you know what milk kefir is? it’s a cultured milk product that’s filled with probiotics. i make my own with these little things called milk kefir grains. my husband, dog and i drink a cup a day, and i give a cup to my 3 girls every day. they love it. and it makes me feel good that they are getting probiotics. i wonder if anyone near you has some kefir grains (symbiotic cultures of bacteria and yeast, aka scobys) that they would share with you? they reproduce quite readily. if i lived near you i would be at your door with some. but i’m in north carolina. i know you can buy kefir at the store, but i don’t kmow how healthy it is. probably filled with sugar :( if you think you might be interested, maybe ask around? just a thought.
    hang in there. both of you :)
    btw “girls” = chickens

  40. Ev Wilcox says:

    I too did not put my 2 cents in yesterday like “Grammy” (Hey, I’m Grammy too!) because you had enough to deal with, and I know nothing about chickens. Being an animal person I sure do get the love part though. Have been keeping a good thought for both of you and will continue.

  41. Good luck both of you. Hope everything goes well.

  42. TC says:

    Awwww, hang in there Cuddles!

  43. Ruth says:

    Glad to hear Cuddles is still with us, and on the mend…. and I’m also glad to see that you haven’t lost your sense of humour in spite of the crisis. (Thigh gap… *dead* LMBO!)

    {{{HUGS}}} to you both. :-)

  44. mickey says:

    Hugs to you both. Hang in there, Cuddles!

  45. Ann says:

    Glad to hear that you ruled a lot of things out and took her off unnecessary medication. I would suggest adding really good quality plain yogurt to your blended food. Normally they love yogurt and will eat it up faster than a speeding bullet. But it should help re-establish her gut flora.

  46. Nicole2 says:

    Hugs to you both. Love the Cuddles.

  47. marilyn says:

    awww thigh gap ….so funny hang in there karen xoxo

  48. Lyn says:

    Glad a cuddles is hanging in there, I so hope she makes it through this! Honestly, the first thing I did this morning, was check your blog for an update…

  49. Kathy Gervasio says:

    Best wishes to Cuddles for speedy recovery.
    The thigh gap photo/comment will make me smile for a long time. :)

  50. Tracey says:

    That’s encouraging news….I’m still in bed, just woke up and the first thing that came to my mind was Cuddles.
    Thank you for the update. I’m praying for Cuddles. She is a wonderful companion.

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