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Ferret Refuses To Eat Its Regular Food

Why would a ferret suddenly refuse to eat its food after its owner was away and came back?

By Ailigh Vanderbush
Posted: January 1, 2011, 5 a.m. EST

Q: I have two female ferrets. Eoweyn is 3.5 years old and Caramel is 1.5 years old. I have tried to introduce them, but I have given up. Eoweyn is just too scared of Caramel from the moment she sees her (if Caramel comes close). The cages are positioned in the same room. My problem is with Eoweyn. I had to leave her home alone (she had supervision of course) for two weekends, and she tends to eat less or goes on a hunger strike when I am not home. Last time I brought her to a ferret hotel, but the guy told me she was so stressed that it would be better to leave her alone if I am not gone for a really long time.

I feed my ferrets a ferret-specific food, and Eoweyn never refused to eat it when I was home. This time when I got home she didn’t eat straight away, but I thought she would come around after a few days. She kept refusing to eat her regular food, however, but she did eat a few cookies and her treats. Because she kept on refusing to eat, I went to the veterinarian. They did a scan, blood test, etc. but the only thing they found was that her liver values were high. They gave her some cortisone and I also got A/D food. In the beginning, Eoweyn really liked the A/D food, but now she also doesn’t want to eat that a lot (I put the food on my fingers and then she eats some. I also mix it with her regular ferret food that I reduce to small crumbs so she eats it). I have ordered a new brand of ferret food in the hope that she will start eating that, but getting it can take a few weeks because I live in Belgium and I ordered it from the States. She’s eaten this new food in the past, but if she refuses to eat it now I don’t really know what to do to keep her going. She weighed 600 grams before all of this started and yesterday she weighed 550 grams. Nothing changed since my return. The ferrets get 1 hour 15 minutes playtime in the morning and in the evening about two hours or however long they want to stay up. Eoweyn now goes to bed really early. She has always been there for me, and I do not want to lose her yet. Is this a behavior problem or a medical problem?

A: Honestly, this is difficult to answer with such limited information, but my feelings are that the issue with your ferret is medical. I don’t hear a lot about ferrets suffering from anxiety/separation anxiety like in dogs, but I suppose it is possible. My worry is that because in most animals, if the behavior is due to you not being there, then she should start eating again when things go back to normal. She hasn’t, and that makes me think there is a medical cause.

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Reader Comments
My furbaby starves himself when I leave out of town, this last time he almost died. The vet said there are no health issues and the only thing we can figure is separation anxiety that's gotten worse with age. I'm afraid to leave binky again, it's gotten to the point that if he's sleeping on me he stays asleep but when handed off he wakes up and starts looking for me. Although it's endearing it's literally killing him.
Nancy, Atlanta, GA
Posted: 9/8/2014 8:17:16 PM
My daughter is applying to colleges now. Unfortunately, none so far allow ferrets. How did you help your daughter cope with leaving her baby behind?
Karen, Purcellville, VA
Posted: 1/25/2012 12:33:11 PM
hello,

thanks a lot for your answer. Just to let you know that after I think 3 weeks Eoweyn started to eat first high quality kitten food and now she is on another ferret food which she really loves. I hope she never makes me scared like that again!
Ann, Hamme
Posted: 1/14/2011 12:20:34 AM
Just a comment. When my daughter left for college our ferret also stopped eating for a while. I decided to try some organic chicken breast which I then steamed and pureed to a mush. This mix got his attention, and got him through the 'blues' spell. The only food I got him to eat after that was purina one chicken and rice. He refused anything else.
Anna, Omaha, NE
Posted: 1/13/2011 12:04:20 PM
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