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August 15, 2011
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“Buttons, Buttons!” I called while scooping food out of the bucket on the back porch. Passively, Buttons glanced up at me as I leaned into her cage. This reaction disturbed me, because she usually rushed to me in eager anticipation of the food rattling into the automatic feeder. Glancing down in her feeder, I noticed that she had eaten no food since that morning at breakfast time. She had not eaten any hay, either. Worried, I carried the six-pound orange tortoiseshell rabbit into the living room and looked her over. I found no signs of illness. Although it was only January, our Georgia whether was warmer than usual for the season, and my parents and I decided that Buttons simply was not hungry in the warming temperatures.

Only a week later, she was still eating minimally, and, when holding her, I discovered that Buttons’ feet were loosing fur, turning red on the heels, and developing flakey calluses in the middle of each of her hind feet. Daily, large deposits of goop could be found in her tear ducts. Small, crusty “sleepies” are normal for rabbits, but not this goop caught in her eyes, lashes, and fur. Immediately I picked up my ARBA (American Rabbit Breeders Association) rabbit book and scanned every illness listed. We decided that Buttons was plagued with Conjunctivitis, or “weepy eye” and “sore hocks.” Both were very simple and curable diseases. At our local veterinarian’s office, I bought a small bottle of eye ointment to cure the weepy eye. For the sore hocks, I rubbed Neosporin two to three times daily on her back feet. Although the antibiotic was curing her eye disease, and the Neosporin seemed to alleviate the pain in her feet, Buttons was losing more and more weight.

After eight days of religiously applying both medications, I was cradling my rabbit at nine-o-clock, when I turned her on her back to rub on her nightly treatment on Neosporin. A dank odor erupted. I found a small yellow protrusion in the area between her back legs. Heart pounding and head spinning with my slightly limited rabbit-lore, I rushed to show my mom in her room. What was wrong with Buttons? Unfortunately, the James Herriot novels lacked cures to obscure rabbit diseases, and I had not read of anything this bizarre in one of my other rabbit books. Incoherent thoughts concerning her past health whirled through me, almost getting sorted out, only to be muddled again in the masses of senseless information.

Finally, I reached the end of the hallway and entered my parent’s bedroom.

Trembling, I interrupted a conversation between my older sister and my mother, “Mom, you need to look at Buttons.”

Gazing at the thing, my mom fondled Buttons’ ears, rubbed her upturned belly, and was visibly worried. She suggested that my rabbit might have a prolapsed uterus. Since the symptoms and cure of a prolapsed uterus were not in my rabbit health book, we immediately made a search on Google for “rabbit’s prolapsed uterus.” Numerous links popped onto the screen. Their descriptions of a prolapsed uterus matched Buttons’ protrusion almost perfectly. Each one of them urged the owner of a rabbit with such an ailment to rush her to the emergency veterinarian, as that state was usually fatal within a few hours. Everyone in our family loved Buttons, but it would be far out of our budget of two hundred dollars to take her to the emergency vet at nine-o-clock at night.

Dazed, I sank into our armchair in the corner of the living room, as Mom and my sister, Alana, continued to read the results of our Google search. More mixed words whizzed through my mind. Fatal. A prolapsed uterus is fatal. How could she even have a prolapsed uterus? She probably won’t last until the morning. Buttons, I can’t lose you now! Fatal. It’s fatal.

Alana and Dad brought a cage, a pan to catch her droppings, and all of Buttons’ supplies into the kitchen, so she could sleep inside. I cuddled her in my lap on a rag towel, and gave her water with an eye-dropper since after a closer look at her water bottle, I realized that she had not drank any water that day. Reading and re-reading all of the diseases in my rabbit book I searched for some form of a cure for her, but to no avail. If our diagnosis was correct, my rabbit might not last until midnight.

I jerked myself upright. With blurred vision, I stared at the clock until the numbers shown registered in my mind. Eleven o' clock. Eleven o' clock?! What am I doing on the couch? Why hasn’t Dad sent me to bed? Then I glanced down at my rabbit lying on my lap. That’s right. Buttons got sick and is sleeping in the kitchen tonight. I should give her another dropper full of water before I put her up.

The next morning, I jumped out of bed and raced into the kitchen, my heart pounding. Huddled in the back corner of her cage rested Buttons, who opened one eye as I entered the kitchen.

“Hello, sweetheart,” I said as I neared her cage. “Did you drink any water last night? Eat any hay, any food?” The answer to all three questions was no. Immediately, I gave her a couple dropper-fulls of water, which she dutifully swallowed. As my four siblings began filing into the kitchen, I covered Buttons’ cage with a rag towel to minimize her stress level.

At nine that morning we took her to our local veterinarian’s office. He decided that Buttons and our male rabbit had probably bred, she had a miscarriage, and now had an infected uterus. Unfortunately, he did not feel comfortable giving her antibiotic treatments without running several tests. We decided against the tests because if the tests had been run, we would not have had enough money left over in our meager budget to pay for her treatment. Untreated, Buttons had only a sliver of a chance of survival. The drive home was miserable.

I prayed all the way home, and until eleven o’ clock, I did much of the same between crying and reading my helpless ARBA book. As I occupied myself with that, Mom contacted numerous veterinary offices within sixty miles. All of them were either far out of our price range or simply did not care for rabbit patients. Finally, almost in tears, Mom called Rockdale Animal Hospital. Despite the fact that their vet, Dr. Mann, was a rabbit specialist, their office fee was within our price range, so and Mom, my younger sister Susan, and I headed to Conyers with Buttons in the back of the van.

After the forty-five minute drive, we finally arrived at the office and carried in the cage. After listening to a detailed description of her symptoms and palpating her abdomen, the doctor prescribed two antibiotics – one for her now confirmed uterine infection, and the other for her weepy eyes – gave her shots of fluids so she would not get more dehydrated, and handed us two syringes for her frequent doses of water. All of her treatments were within our price range of two hundred dollars.

Every morning I rushed out of my bedroom to check on her, fearing the worst. Every morning I met the sweet relief of seeing my healing bunny on the cage floor. Within three days of the treatments, she was eating small amounts of very expensive hay and very, very, very, expensive food suggested to us by Dr. Mann. One week later, she was perfectly happy and comfortable in her spascous outdoor cage.

Now, as I glance outside and see my “good girl” bounding around the cage, eating her, still expensive, hay, or snuggling her frozen water bottle to chase away the searing Georgia heat, I thank God that Buttons survived that harrowing experience and now will live “happily ever after” being held on a weekly basis and enjoying her simple rabbit life.

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Mystiecub said...
Aug. 19, 2011 at 5:13 pm

This article kinda gives me hope for my cat...

He's a gorgeous 15 yr old Maine C.oon named Mooch. Since we took him to the vet, he hasn't been himself. He'll wander around, walk dead straight into a wall and just stare at it. For hours. He's lost 6 pounds (which is a lot for a cat) and isn't eating right either. My parents don't know how much longer he's gonna last...

After reading this article though, there's a new hope that he still has plenty of time--its a dim hope, min... (more »)

Mystiecub replied...
Aug. 19, 2011 at 5:13 pm
grr there it goes with the double posting again -.-
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