Yes, I removed the mats already (-: He looks much better now! And I have also been sure to give the dust baths as well, I am confident those were extremely overdue.
And yes, I am glad you mentioned the "dog cat" thing. I have been educated about that in the past and have been cautious of the risks involved there. The chinnie does not have direct contact with the pup - they merely enjoy each others surrounding company most days. With the cat however ... they bonded quite strongly while being locked away in that room.
The first few nights I had the chinnie he was fairly anxious and upset, I figured it was due to the obvious stress in his life with the abuse/neglect, then me sweeping him up to a new home. But, when I made the decision to bring the cat on board as well, he instantaneously relaxed upon being with him again.
Because I am a foster, all the animals I take in are immediately brought to a vet (if they didn't already come from home), to be tested - blood, fecal, hair, saliva, etc. Whatever it may be.
I did all the possible tests available for a chinchilla, including any I could do for the cat. Besides malnutrition, both checked out fine (luckily). I am aware that doesn't negate the possibility of transmitting diseases and such, but if I take the cat from the chinnie or vice versa they become quite nervous and fidgety without one another. So ... I figure that the next best thing I can do is monitor them. The chinnie is kept in a cage without the cat (of course), so the most the cat can do is nuzzle him through the bars or sleep by the cage. But when I take the chinnie out to play or snuggle, the cat always participates as well.
In answer to the other question - his cage is a 4-tiered chinnie cage with a Snak Shak, wood chews (hanging ones and individual chips), hay manger, chinnie bedding, hay hut to sleep in and eat (which he has done a number on that thing), etc. Everything is all natural with no artificial coloring and such.
I clean it everyday or every other day depending on the work week.
As of now, he is fed the basic pellet food, but the bag I bought was pretty expensive (I didn't want to go cheap). The only treats he currently gets are Dandelion Drops? If that sounds familiar. They were a gift from the shelter and he loves them so ...
I have also been researching natural foods to feed them as strictly treats (not necessarily part of a routine diet). As long as it is unsalted, sugarless, etc. Raisins I heard are okay in limited quantities?