Thursday, December 17, 2009

Cages - what are they good for?

To cage or not to cage, that is the question...
Cages are a controversial topic amongst ferret owners. Some feel that cages are important, others feel that they are overused and still others believe that they are downright cruel under most circumstances.

Reasons for caging:
Cages can be useful for ferret owners; they can be used as a ferret's bed to keep them out of trouble while you sleep or as a kennel to keep them out of trouble while you are out of the house. Cages can be used to keep your pet safe when you have guests that are not ferret-aware or to keep your ferret safe from a not-so-friendly pet.Cages can also be used as a hospital room for sick and recovering ferrets that must be confined for their own well being. Cages can also be prisons for ferrets, and sadly, in many cases, they are.

Bad reasons for caging:
Lots of people who get ferrets are unaware that ferrets are social animals that should have the run of part, if not all of the house. These owners are prone to keeping their furry friends caged out of ignorance. Others (and sadly there are many more of this type out there) were unaware of what ferrets were really like; they want a soft, cuddly pet to snooze on their laps while they read and they assume that a ferret will fill this role. Once it becomes abundantly clear that this is not the case and that ferrets are demanding and, at times, destructive, this type of owner uses the cage to confine the ferret in a poorly thought out attempt to cope with the animal. This, of course, leads to what I like to call a ferret cage/badness spiral.

The spiral:
the ferret cage/ badness spiral is a spiral which begins when an over-exuberant ferret is caged by an (often) inexperienced and exasperated owner. The owners hopes (in vain) that caging the ferret will (somehow) call him or her down and that the next day, the ferret will be less exuberant. This, of course, does not work. Rather than being calmer the following day, the caged ferret is in fact worse. This tends to cause the owner to cage the ferret sooner the next day, which, in turn causes the ferret to be more hyper... and the spiral continues until either the ferret is caged nearly all of the time or the owner gives up and gets rid of the animal.

Cage tips:
  • If you must cage your ferret, bear in mind that the cage is meant to be to a ferret as a bedroom is to a child - a place for it to sleep, keep some of its stuff and hang out in a little bit. A CAGE IS NOT MEANT TO BE YOUR FERRET'S HOME. If you find that your ferret is caged more often than not, perhaps a ferret is not the pet for you and you should reconsider ferret ownership.
  • Get the largest cage that you can afford for your ferret. After all, who doesn't love to have a big bedroom =) Keep in mind that ferrets get stressed when caged; the bigger the cage, the less stress.
  • Consider a ferret room if you are out often. This will give your ferret ample play space and reduce the likelihood of the ferret/cage spiral to begin when life gets a little busy such as during crunch time at Colleges and Universities, Christmas time etc. Ferret rooms are also useful if you get sick - they give you a chance to recover without feeling guilty about caging your friend around the clock. Ideas for ferret rooms can be found on our blog.


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