Well, as my mom said, I guess I wrote my annual review too soon. One more thing to add to the negative column... I'm house-sitting starting today for a family in my neighbourhood that's on vacation. They have a very needy/affectionate cat who likes to have someone around the house, so they wanted me to stay here to take care of the cat. When I got to the house today, I found a note from the mother explaining everything in the house and also one from the young daughter, asking me if I could also feed her hamster, Khloe. The hamster cage was in the living room; since I had been around the house before and hadn't met the hamster, I assumed she had brought it down from her room to make sure I would see it.
I looked at the hamster; it was tiny and curled up asleep in the spinning wheel at the top of the cage. The cat was asking for food so I fed it (a more involved process than normal cats since it insists on food that is lump-free and warm :P) and then went back to meet the hamster. I touched the ball gently to wake her up. She didn't move. I rocked it a little more and it was still... asleep? I spun the ball and the obviously dead hamster slid stiffly along the bottom of the wheel. She was cold and rigid, like she had been dead for several hours.
At first I was just kind of disbelieving. I called my boyfriend and texted my mom. I got to my house-sitting job and found a dead hamster waiting for me. it was such a bizarre thing to happen. The family had only left earlier today. There was plenty of food in the cage and the cage was intact. What could have happened between then and now?
The only explanation I can think of is that maybe this was hamster Khloe's first time in the living room and in close proximity to the cat. I've always been a big fan of rabbits (understatement of the century) and I knew already that rabbits have weak hearts and can actually be scared to death by the mere sight of a predator (which is why you should never leave your bunny outside unattended, even if it's "safe" in a cage.) It would make sense if it were the same for hamsters. Maybe the sight of a fat, hungry cat wandering by her cage was just too much for poor Khloe's heart.
At first the situation just seemed ridiculous, but it was really sad to have to shake her tiny body out of the tube leading to the wheel into my hand. Although it's kind of gross to put a rodent body in right on top of the frozen peas-- especially someone else's frozen peas-- I couldn't think of anything to do but put her in a few ziploc bags in the freezer. The family isn't coming back for almost a week and if I were the girl who was Khloe's owner, I would want to bury her. So freezer it is.
Anyway. Now I'm melancholy over a hamster I never knew. I should go cuddle my stuffed rabbits. Goodnight...