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82861 tn?1333457511

Comfort for Dying Old Cockatiel

Petey, my 22 year and 5-month old cockatiel is dying.  It started over two months ago when he go sick.  He looked like the wild birds I've seen with West Nile virus.  Just when we were certain it was the end, Petey rallied but hasn't been the same since.  He's had loose stools off and on and has lost a lot of weight.  I've used moulting and conditioning vitamins as a supplement for several years, but it's not making any difference now obviously.  He does eat his regular seed, but not as much, and has trouble with his old favorite sunflower seeds.  A spray of fresh millet gets the biggest reaction out of him these days.  

He sleeps most of the time, keeps his feathers puffed up like he's cold, and seems to need his wings for balance more often than not.  There's certainly a loss of coordination.   Petey never would use a Happy Hut, so I have a small towel on the bottom of one corner of his cage that he likes to snug with.  Better than nothing.  During the worst of his illness, he wanted nothing to do with us.  In the past few days, he wants nothing more than to sit under my chin and sleep.

I want to do right by my little companion, so any hints you can offer for comfort measures will be greatly appreciated.  Petey was the first companion "child" that my husband I had. Life will be so strange without him, but I'm grateful for all the years we've had with.  He's never had one single health problem in all this time, so it's difficult to see him like this.  All I can think of is to keep him as warm and comfortable as possible until he's gone.  :-(
106 Responses
82861 tn?1333457511
PS - Does anyone thing that the stress of going to a vet would do him any good?  It's not out of the question by any means, but right now I don't think a vet would be of much help.  Maybe I'm wrong?
82861 tn?1333457511
:-*(   Petey just died at 8:30 am.  When I got up this morning it was obvious that he had only minutes left.  At least he died in the hands of his family.  I can hardly believe he's gone after so many years.  

Nick, our quaker parrot has a cage only 3 feet away from Petey's.  He's very upset and keeps shrieking for his friend.  I wonder how long this will keep up?

You know, I thought I was prepared for this.  Obviously I'm not because I'm blubbering like a child.  It's hard for some people to imagine how a little bird can cause so much grief, but there it is.  Petey had such a great personality and was an integral part of our family from the beginning.  He even traveled with us and actually enjoyed it.  

Petey lived to see 4 dogs become part of his flock and outlived two of them.  When the first one died, he stopped singing all the beautiful songs he once sang.  Petey and Travis grew up together and were actually fast friends.  Petey used to follow Travis around the house, and the minute he sprawled out for a nap, Petey began to clean his whiskers and toe-pad hairs.  It really was cute to see Petey do the cockachicken stroll behind that dog.

Gotta go mop my face and blow my nose....
184674 tn?1360864093
Oh, I'm so sorry for your loss! I know how those little cockatiels can capture your heart--I just lost my little 'tiel 11 months ago. Her name was Petie as well...of course, she was a girl though.
But wow, 22½ years is a wonderfully long life! As my Petie was about to pass away, she was only about 12 years old, and I had no idea that she was in the average lifespan for a 'tiel. I rushed her to the vet because I thought she was sick, but the vet said she was just old and these would be her last few minutes, and that in all the years he'd been an avian vet (and he was an older vet), he hadn't seen a 'tiel live over the age of 15.
I was a mess. I was a week or two away from my due date to have my baby, and I was sobbing so much they brought me a box of tissues. He offered to euthanize her for me at no cost to make it faster, which I chose to do as she was struggling so much to breathe. She also passed away in my hands.
Anyway, I'm sorry for your loss. Petey sounded like a lovely and precious little guy! I can't imagine the sadness you feel right now. But please know that you gave him a more than wonderful life for him to have lived so long! I pray you find all the peace and comfort in the many years of memories you have of him.
God bless. ♥
187666 tn?1331176945
I am so sorry to hear about your bird.  It's 8 am here and I just got started on the computer. You did the right thing, watching over him and being with him at the last moment. 22 years is a long time to have a little friend in your home. Of course you're going to cry.

If he had been in severe pain (like a compound fracture), I would have recommended tucking him into a comfortable box with towel and transporting him to the vet. Being in a quiet, dark place reduces the stress a lot. I deal with wild birds and that's how we handle them. It really works.

As for Nick, did he get to see Petey up close for a few minutes? That sounds morbid but I raise a couple of orphaned chickadees and they managed to survive having avian pox. But one just never was quite right. He never grew feathers properly and seemed off. One morning I went out to feed them and one chickie was up in the nest box calling. I kept looking for its sibling and the bird kept looking down at the bottom of the cage. Sure enough, sibling was down in the branches and leaves but deceased. That surviving chickadee called and called for a couple days and then gradually recovered to the point I could release him. But I had made sure he got to see his sibling up close. He seemed to look carefully at him but still was upset for a couple days.

Don't take down Petey's cage yet. Let Nick see the empty cage so he might understand Petey is gone for good.

Who knows what birds think but we have to assume they understand more than we realize.

242912 tn?1402547092
Oh Jaybay, I'm so sorry you lost Petey.  What a great long healthy life he had.  He sounded very special.  It's true, some people have what I call "just a bird in a cage" and never have a close emotional true relationship with them.  I had my parakeet, Blondie, for 11yrs - she died in 1992.  She was my buddy and so cool and I still miss her after all this time.  My mother couldn't understand my grief until she herself had a trained bird who was a part of the family.  Like Petey, PJ died in my mothers hand after holding him for hrs the day he got ill and I still tear up just typing that and that happened 6yrs ago.

I just wanted you to know I understand.  It may take Nick a few weeks to get over his grief.  Blondie was partnered with my mothers bird of the time (not her trained one) and she sat fluffed up for several weeks and barely moved after seeing him die in front of her.  Give extra love (I know you will) and watch closely depression doesn't get out of control.  

Hugs to you, Jaybay...♥
82861 tn?1333457511
Thank you all so much for responding.  It's funny how those little fluff-balls can get under your skin, isn't it?  The living room seems really empty right now.  I never realized how many times in a day I looked at Petey's cage or just mindlessly chattered and whistled with him.  Obviously more than I realized because I keep catching myself doing it.

ireneo - great minds think alike.  After seing Petey so traumatized when Travis left the house for the last time, I made sure that Nick saw him.  I swear he understood.  He suddenly got very quiet and cocked his head and just stared at Petey.  He calmed down after the "viewing".  I don't think it's morbid at all - more along the lines of common sense.  These birds are smart (sometimes too much for their own good!) so I figured I'd give him the benefit of the doubt where death was concerned.  Glad to know I unwittingly did the right thing.  :-)
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