Cuddles is still cuddling. The last update until something significant happens.

O.K.  I had a different post planned for today.  A good one by the way.   Much better than this stupid movie Neighbors I’m trying to watch for some reason.   I was watching something a little more high brow but it was incredibly boring.  So I put this movie on.  Which is incredibly boring with the added bonus of making me feel bad about myself because unlike the intelligent, thoughtful movie, I’m actually still watching this one.

God I miss you John Hughes.

Up until half an hour before posting I was running that post I had originally planned for today damn it.  I was not going to go on about Cuddles again.

Then I took a look at her sleeping in the coop and caved.

photo copy 3



I also figured I couldn’t just stop posting about Cuddles because all of the comments on today’s post would be asking about Cuddles regardless of what I was talking about in the actual post.  When you people grab onto something there’s very little to stop you.  See the comments regarding the Silver Fox in this post for example.

This will be the last Cuddles watch until something significant happens.  Either good or bad.  I’ll post the odd update on Facebook so you can check in there if you need to know what’s going on.

Today I spoke with several vets and one nice lady from the Internet.

Terry Golson runs the website HenCam.  She’s the original coop cammer.  She answered my questions and supplied me with follow up emails all day long.  She’s been keeping chickens for years, gives workshops on keeping chickens and does her own chicken necropsies (chicken autopsy).  She is full of information and willing to share.  What I liked best about her was she didn’t sugarcoat anything.  Cuddles could die.  In fact she probably would. In her opinion Cuddle’s symptoms were what you would expect from a hen with cancer or a very, very bad infection.   She outlined her reasons for thinking this including the fact that Cuddle’s poop is still green even though she’s eating.  Later in the evening I sent her some new information including the fact that Cuddles had a dust bath today and she was quick to reply that that was very, very encouraging.  Chickens who are getting ready to die, don’t bathe.  But they don’t have green poop either.  Reason for optimism and reason for pessimism according to Terry.  I agree.

Mike Petrik runs the website Mike the Chicken Vet.   He is a poultry vet exclusively and as it turns out is just a few towns over from me.  Just hearing Cuddle’s symptoms he had a few ideas in terms of what may be wrong with her and he gave me some good, solid information.  But most impressively after I emailed him originally a couple of days ago, he took it upon himself to go to my blog post and ask how Cuddles was doing.  Mike the chicken vet was a great help.

Mark Camilleri is a cat vet at a cat clinic I used to take one of my cats to.  :)  But he also happens to own rare chickens and is a registered poultry judge.  He was also incredibly generous with his time and called me on the phone to see how Cuddles was doing and what her symptoms were like today.

With all this new information I sort of extrapolated from everyone I decided I should do a couple of things, one of which was take Cuddle’s temperature.  A chicken’s temperature should be around 104 or 105.  Cuddle’s temperature was 107.5 yesterday afternoon.  Walnut’s by comparison was 105.  So that meant she has some sort of infection.

She was in much better shape yesterday, moving around and eating the Michelin star food I was syringing her.  On the menu today was a chicken crumble, mineral oil, pumpkin, oregano, yogourt and honey smoothie.




She ate the smoothie I dropped onto her beak, the smoothie I dropped onto her feathers and the majority of the smoothie I dropped onto my (totally washable, incredibly durable Rough Linen pinafore).

By the afternoon she was still pooping green but it looked slightly more like regular poop.  By late afternoon she was sun bathing.  And by sunset she was eating a whole leaf of romaine lettuce by herself.  All good signs.  Except for the poop.  It’s the damn poop.

So I called Dr. Robinson, who did Cuddle’s fecal smear the other day, and told him she had a fever and did he think she should be on antibiotics again?  Dr. Robinson explained because it seemed like her body was trying very hard to get better in terms of her behavior, he’d like to leave her for another day to see if her temperature would come down on its own.  He would prefer to see an animal get better on their own without the interference of antibiotics if possible.  This way there isn’t any disturbance in her gut flora which could create more problems down the road.  He wouldn’t have recommended this if she was still lethargic and uninterested in grooming or food.

So some time this afternoon I’ll take Cuddle’s temperature again. If it’s low, we’ll continue on as we are now.  Feeding her stuff she’s happy to eat with the hope that she’ll get her appetite back enough to go back on her regular feed.  If her temperature is still high she’ll get the same treatment but also go on antibiotics for I’m guessing 5 days.  Then we’ll just have to wait and see if she pulls through and her poop clears up.

The general consensus from all vets and experienced advisors was if Cuddles doesn’t eat on her own or gain weight  in the next 5 days or so, it’s a sign that she’s very sick and I can have her euthanized in good conscience.

But that’s a ways off yet, so I will continue on with with holding Cuddles, syringe feeding Cuddles and doing laundry.  Enormous amounts of laundry.


  1. Kelli says:

    You are SUCH a good chicken Mama. I know Cuddles appreciates her human…big hugs and ‘cuddles’ to your Cuddles.

  2. Bonnie says:

    I hope you let us know about Cuddles. I once had chickens, and I did my best for one hen, Liz, too. First, Liz was in the yard when a hawk swooped her up. I grabbed her legs and got her away, but not before he had damaged her spinal cord a bit. Liz as okay, but she was a bit wobbly when she walked–like a drunk. That walk and her black bouffant (she was a Polish hen) is what earned her the name, Liz.

    Later, Liz fought off a snake that had gotten in the coop and eaten several chicks. In the fight, Liz’s leg was broken. Georgia, where I live, is a chicken state, but many vets told me that they only treat chickens in large flocks, not individuals. People laughed at me for wanting to take her to a vet. They said that I should just fry her. (HORRORS!)

    Finally, I got the exotic animal vet at the university to look at her. Now, Liz had not been eating, and a friend who is a chicken owner told me to give her a can of cat food. I did, and she ate it. I took her to the vet in a small carrier. I was pretty sensitive about taking my hen to the vet. As I sat in the waiting room, a man asked me, “Got a cat?” “No.” “A pup?” “No.” “A ferret?” No. “Well, whatcha got?” “A chicken,” I said softly. “A chicken!” he bellowed, “Well, around here when a chicken gets hurt we fry them.” “I know.”

    The vet and her assistants took Liz to the back to weigh her, and came running out holding their noses. “What did you feed her?” “Cat food.” I think I had to pay a lot for them to disinfect and fumigate that exam room. However, they did set Liz’s broken leg, and a few weeks later, removed the splint. However, Liz had gotten so used to holding the leg straight out that she continued to do so. So, I started doing physical therapy with Liz, holding her legs and walking her around. You can imagine the abuse I got for that! Anyway,Liz pulled through and finally died peacefully some time later in her nest.

    I hope Cuddles pulls through.


  3. BJ Naylor says:

    I understand what you’re saying about Cuddles being a little “off”. One of my rescue dogs is still a little leery of me. We’ve decided the puppy mill breeder for her first four years of life must have been a female who looked somewhat like me! Anyway, my husband didn’t think she was feeling well, and since he was concerned I took her to the Vet. When I tried to explain it to the nurse, she said, “Oh, ADR?” When I asked what ADR was, she smiled and said, “It means ‘ain’t doing right’!” That’s now become a term we use often in our home when one of our “kids” just isn’t feeling their best! So Cuddles ADR yet!

  4. Julie says:

    hi there…i read your blog quite often but never really comment..sorry! anyway, i have a friend of a friend who raises chickens in mississauga (i know, a little bit out of your area) and have forwarded your blog to her. hopefully she can help, too!

  5. Debi says:

    I have a cat named Piper, a few years ago I thought I was gonna have to put him down. The vet said signs of liver failure, and some other things so they gave me some special food, meds, you name it, they gave it to me. It was awful. I’d rush home from work just to check on him. The night that I decided I couldn’t let him go on like this anymore, we’d make our last visit to the vet in the am. I read somewhere about baby food and pedialyte. At this point, I was willing to try anything. I rushed out to the store, when I got home, I watered down the pedialyte, put it in the eye dropper and forced it on him. The next morning, I thought I’d seen some improvement but I wasn’t sure, after I got off work that day, I could see he was definitely improving. I held the mixture of pedialyte and water up for him and he actually drank by himself. That was the first he’d done that in weeks. I don’t know if it was me praying so hard for my boy every day, the baby food, or pedialyte,, but one of those three things worked because I gave up on giving him his medicine and that other food from the vet, it was just making him mad and uncomfortable. Anyway,Cuddles is in my prayers, maybe if you’re at the store today, you could pick up some baby food, the meat kind, and pedialyte. It worked for my boy Piper, hopefully it will work for Cuddles.

  6. Stephbo says:

    As much as I’m concerned about Cuddles, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for poor Walnut. I bet she was all, “HEY!! Why are you sticking that thing up MY bum?!? SHE’S the one who is sick! Hmmph. ” Still rooting for you and Cuddles! (and Walnut)

  7. Twyla Harkey says:

    I have never prayed for a chicken but cuddles has brought me to my knees….I pray wisdom for you in caring for her.. God bless you …get well quickly Cuddles.. We are all needing a miracle these days..

    • Karen says:

      And I’m grateful. Thanks Twyla. (although I have enormous guilt over everyone people using their prayer time for Cuddles). Huh. Prayer guilt from someone who is neither Jewish nor Catholic. :) ~ karen!

  8. Twyla Harkey says:

    I have never prayed for a chicken but cuddles has brought me to my knees….I pray wisdom for you in caring for her.. God bless you …get well quickly Cuddles.. We are all needing a miracle these days..

  9. Janet says:

    Karen, I am so glad that you posted an update on Cuddles. We’re all waiting with ‘bated breath to see how she’s doing, so don’t you dare make this your last post on this gal. If you MUST post something on a different topic, add a PS at the bottom, or you’ll be plagued with all of us asking, anyway.

    I think it’s wonderful that so many chicken experts have been willing to share their expertise and opinions. I’m also glad they told you the truth. She might die, but she might get better.

    Here’s hoping…

  10. Lesley Williamson says:

    Had a friend over for dinner earlier. Went to the laptop to check on the weather report (tornado warnings earlier) then I said, “While I’m on here I’m just going to check on Cuddles.” My friend: “Who?” Me: “Cuddles. The chicken. She’s sick.” My friend: “What??” Me: “There’s this woman who has a blog and she lives near Hamilton and she has chickens and a beautiful coop and a coop camera and now one of the girls is sick.” My friend: “Do you KNOW her?” Me: “No.” My friend: “Oh for crying out loud … ”

    A few minutes ago the phone rang. My friend, very casually: “So, um, have you heard anything? How’s that chicken doing??”

    Another chicken convert :)

  11. Jess says:

    Thanks for the update…..see how we all hang on your every word about the poop…:-D
    But seriously, it sounds hopeful, still we know you will do what’s best for Cuddles if need be. Warm thoughts, Jess

  12. AnnW in the US says:

    I like the Cuddles posts even if nothing significant happens. All your posts are really informative, and Fun! How about a post on fashion for the fall? I never really care about stuff like that, but you are always funny. Ann

  13. You know its crazy when so many people are praying for a chicken, but when we love animals, they are like children. Prayers work in amazing ways…so praying for you, Cuddles and to win the lottery (what the heck) I am nothing but truthful. Plus keep the Cuddles posts coming, we will get to lasagne eventually.

  14. Jake says:

    Good luck and hugs for Cuddles (you too) I hope for a good result.

  15. AmyKate says:

    Life is difficult enough, I hope Cuddles continues to get better! Thank u for thinking of your very selfish readers and updating us. And please know we appreciate it. And I hope Ms. Cuddles has many happy years with you.

  16. Peggy says:

    Aw, Mark C. was my cat’s vet too and he was so compassionate with both of us when it was her time to go. Nice to hear that you like him too. Hope Cuddles recovers!

  17. Liz says:

    glad to hear the positive (and pragmatic) report :) Sounds like her little chicken perseverance is healthy… go Cuddles!!

  18. Gretchen Sexton says:

    I’ll continue thinking of Cuddles and you–and hoping for the happiest outcome. Bless you! Hang in there…

  19. kate-v says:

    I’m glad Cuddles is doing better overall and that you have lots of back up to help her get well.

  20. LeeAnne says:

    Nothing is more heart wrenching than watching animals fight for their lives. Hang in there Karen.

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