We have ratbabies. We love our ratbabies! We love our ratbabies so much we are on our second batch (The New Westbabies!). But we have pet store ratbabies. There aren’t a lot of ratteries in Germany and the ones in Holland wouldn’t allow us to buy them and import to Germany. So we got pet store ratbabies.

Our ratbabies are beautiful and so loved but they are not perfect. Pet stores aren’t as careful about breeding as ratteries. Our poor ratbabies have paid the price. Out of the six ratbabies we’ve had, three have had tumors. Poor Shay is on her second round of tumors. Luckily we have an amazing vet that is wonderful with them. She loves them as much as we do.

Dave took Toffee & Shay to the vet early Wednesday morning. Over the last couple of months both have slowly grown tumors, but in the last week Shay’s suddenly grew exponentially bigger. As much as we hate to put our ratbabies through surgery, she was obviously in pain. Dave bundled them each into their individual travel cages, we kissed them and off he went. Leaving me home alone wondering if they would be coming back.

Our vet is not far from Tess’ bus stop. We live outside of the bus zone, and I pick Tess up 3 villages away. The vet is another 2 villages away. We stopped and picked up their favorite snack, greek yogurt, and drove to visit our babies. We thought they were getting evaluated, and surgery the next day. Imagine our surprise when we got there, waited in the waiting room with first one, then two, then three adorable doggo’s! I am a dog person. I love dogs. We have rats & a cat. I love them too. But man, I sooooooooooooo want a dog.

I digress. As we are admiring one beautiful old boy (he is 10, but acted like an excited puppy… I so wanted to take him home), the vet tech came in to take us back. Again, we thought we were visiting our babies. It turns out Dave’s German is not perfect, and both babies had had surgery. Both babies were ready to come home. I was not prepared.

I am a big softie. Seeing both our girls with shaved fur and stitches overwhelmed me. I couldn’t stop a sob from escaping or tears from falling down. It hurts me to see my babies hurt. It’s so hard when you can’t explain it. All I can do is love them, and stroke them, and tell them it’s okay.

And it is okay. They both came through surgery like troopers. Shay, now a seasoned pro, even chittered a little when we pet her. Toffee, was a little harder.  A lot harder. Toffee had three separate tumors. Three separate bare patches with stitches. My heart broke seeing her. She looked like frankenrat. I doubted our wisdom in getting her help.

Last year our vet moved to new, bigger, offices and she added a vet. An English vet. From England! An adorable young woman with ginger curls and a big heart. She was quick to reassure me that Toffee looked worse than it was. The tumors were easy to reach, easy to remove. Still, three tumors is not nothing and both rats needed some extra care. Tess and I listened carefully and asked lots of questions.

Once home we choose to keep them in their smaller travel cages, separated. At least the first days until the wounds healed. Both our rats are active girls and we didn’t want to risk having them run, hop or climb and tear open stitches. We also wanted to keep them apart, and stop them from “helping” each other remove stitches. Still, we put the cages side-by-side so they could touch noses.

My office is the warmest room in the house. It’s directly above the big, red, intimating machine. Our heater. It’s also easy to close the door, keep warm, and keep the cat out. The cat who was very, very interested in sick ratbabies. Usually Mochi ignores them.  Now she was practically stalking the cages. I don’t know if it was stalking because she sensed they were weak or concern because she sensed they were sick and needed help. There are two schools of thought in my house.

All I know is that Thursday was a very busy day for me. Both rats needed frequent attention, medicine, wound care, hand feeding and the cat needed constant reassurance that I loved her best. She was not happy with rats in my office. My office is her home during the day. I had a very sulky cat on my hands.

This morning we woke up to a very proud Toffee. She’d finally torn out the stitches on her belly that had been bothering her. While the wound gaped ugly, it looked healthy. We did some googling. Some cleaning. And finally wrapped her torso in one of those self-adhesive bandages we had left from my surgeries. She looks very funny, but she can no longer reach her stitches. She’s not happy with us, at the same time she’s at the corner of her cage. As close to me as she can get. I’m talking to her, reassuring her that’s she’s okay. And she is okay. She is doing really well. But she is going to have to wait another day or two before she can move to the big cage. She is not going to be happy about that.

Toffee curled up in the corner of her cage closest to me.

Toffee holding tight onto Tess’ finger.

Toffee in her new bandage. Because. She won’t leave well enough alone.

Toffee pre-bandage. She has 2 more spots just like this.

Shay is a trooper!

Shay is not above giving me sad puppy eyes. Don’t let her fool you! She’s doing great.

Shay wants to come over & play on my lap.

Mochi is very, very sulky.