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Discussion Starter #1
My eldest rat and one of my first ever rats, Rosie, is just over 3 years old now. Obviously, its very old for a rattie and with her age, she has been having problems.
Her back end has started to deteriorate and she has trouble walking and getting about. The vet thinks she has some sort of arthritis in her lower back and she is on metacam to help with this. For the first two weeks, it seemed to be helping her. But now, its almost like she's back to the way she was before.

She can't climb the bars of the cage.
She struggles walking around, very wobbly, but she does walk.
Drags her hind legs down the ramp, if she doesn't do that she takes ages coming down the ramp trying to find the 'bars' to hold onto, often with her back feet slipping through the gaps.
Her back feet curl over when walking, its almost like she's walking on her knuckles as thats what the vet said.
When she eats, she has to rest the peice of food on the ground so she can stable herself, or she'll wobble around trying to sit on her hind legs to eat.
She can't reach her back legs around her to itch her ear, or face for example.
She can't keep up with the other rats in the cage (7 others, who range from being 8 months younger, to over 2 years younger than her) so they just seem to walk all over her.
Her fur is thinning as she ages. She doesn't have much protection against other ratties' nails so has a few scratches and scrapes on her.
The way she walks means her bottom is very close to the ground, when she urinates its often all over her tummy and her private area (I check this multiple times daily and give her a gentle wash down with petsafe wipes)

Despite all of that, when she's awake, she is still looking very bright and happy in herself.
She will still look around to try and see whats going on.
Has bright clear eyes and clear breathing.
Very keen appetite still and drinks like normal.

She only really comes out to eat, drink and go to the toilet (and of course for her meds) but when she is awake she is still very much a happy rattie.

I just hate seeing her trying to act like a normal rat, when its clear she struggles with basic things :(
I don't know whether to get her PTS or not just yet as she still eats and drinks fine :(

I know she's not going to live forever, and its been something i've been thinking about for a while now. Its been a very gradual process and I have made ajustments to her cage to accommodate for these, but now it seems like theres nothing more I can do for her :'(

When I took her to the vets when she got given her metacam, it was actually orginally to get her PTS, but the vet didnt think she was in any pain. She said she was more than happy to let me try her on the meds if I wanted to and see how it went.
I just think her time is definitely coming... I'd just like to see what you all thought. But I think I will get her PTS soon :(

These were taken yesterday of her, as you can see her eyes are still very bright and she looks happy enough. I just don't know what to do :(

 

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Altho I don't have first hand experience with this, from what I've read rats can live fairly happily with hind leg degeneration (hld) which is what you're describing about her walking. It should be painless except maybe the arthritis part but meta cam should solve that. As long as shes happy I personally wouldn't put her to sleep. She'll be less active as you're already noticing but I don't think that means she's unhappy. You just have to spend more one on one time with her cleaning her tummy etc. But personally I'd she seems happy and in no pain I wouldn't put her to sleep until that changes. That's just my opinion. You'll know once their quality of life is so bad that it's time I find because they stop being happy. You can tell every day is just a fight to survive. She doesn't sound like she's reached that point yet especially if your vet suggested doing other things first.
 

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I agree completely with the post above. She looks so great in her pictures that at first glance, I thought it was an old picture of her!
 

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You can ameliorate her Hind leg degeneration by giving her some B12 vitamins. I would recommend a liquid form of B12 as it will be much easier to dose.
 

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I agree with Leisel and Leila, if Rosie doesn't seem to be in a lot of discomfort and seems to be enjoying life, you may still enjoy each other for awhile. Gribouillis' suggestion of B12 may help her with mobility issues and give you some extra time together. I believe that if we know our pets, and are sincere in wanting to do what's best for THEM, they will tell us when it's time to help them cross the bridge. If life is no longer enjoyable, if their days are full of pain or confusion, if basics, such as food, companionship, play, are no longer enjoyable or interesting for them, then I think our final loving and responsible act as an owner, is to help them over the bridge. You have obviously built a close relationship with Rosie, when it's time, you will know. In the meantime, continue to love her as you're doing.
 

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Also if your cage has a lot of things high up make sure to put some things on the ground for her or try to make ramps that aren't steep. If she still is eating, drinking and enjoying life I don't see why she couldn't live for a while more. She looks great in the pictures!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thankyou everyone for responding :)
I dont use this forum often anymore, so I may take a few days until I reply to you all.

I posted this exact thread in a hamster forum and pretty much everyone has been saying the same thing which makes me feel better about what to do next.
I may move her into a small cage (way too small for a healthy rat, but for her it is perfect) but I don't know about giving her a cagemate or not... They are all very active and a fair bit younger than her, they have lots of energy and the small cage really doesn't have room for loads of toys and enrichment, its not tall either so they wouldn't be able to climb much at all. Its an old indoor guineapig cage, about 80cm long. Due to her mobility issues, she wouldn't need ropes and climbing things, because she can't climb anyway. But if I had another rat in with her, i'd have a problem of trying to make it enriching for the other one.

She might be okay on her own... But I don't know... she's always had cagemates... always! But she's only really awake for eating, drinking and going to the toilet now. She isn't able to run and play with the other rats like she used to do. But i hate rats being on their own so I really don't know if I should change her cage or not!
 

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Maybe you could get some of the other 7 rats to live with her, the ones the less energetic but at least two so they can keep each other company. They all can still play together outside their cage and maybe a couple hours inside the original cage so there won't be territorial issues when you put them all back together after Rosie passes. It would mean however that you will need another karge cage. Maybe a single critter nation. That is what I would do. Even if Rosie cannot move around too much, she would appreciate some companionship and sleep buddies.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Maybe you could get some of the other 7 rats to live with her, the ones the less energetic but at least two so they can keep each other company. They all can still play together outside their cage and maybe a couple hours inside the original cage so there won't be territorial issues when you put them all back together after Rosie passes. It would mean however that you will need another karge cage. Maybe a single critter nation. That is what I would do. Even if Rosie cannot move around too much, she would appreciate some companionship and sleep buddies.
Thankyou for your response :)
Not trying to sound rude here in anyway! But I am not going to spend god knows how much money on another big rat cage, just so Rosie can live with a few less rats than what she is used to. It seems ridiculous to me to spend over £100 on a cage that probably will not get much use at all considering she's 3 years old.
If everyone seems to think that her having cagemates is vital, then she will stay in her current cage with everyone else.

I do like the idea of the others visiting eachother though. Maybe if she was to be on her own, each day when she was awake, i'd put her out in the playpen with the other 7 so she can have some social time. Though when I do take her out in the playpen, all she does now is sit huddled in the corner while the others climb all over her.
 

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I would keep her in the cage with the others. You can put extra fleece on the bottom level to make it easier on her feet. You can also put hanging cubes on the ground so that she doesn't have to climb the bars to get to them. Just make sure that she is having enough to eat and drink and that the others aren't stealing food from her. In my experience putting them in a smaller cage made my boy depressed. (He had surgery).
 
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