Our Boy Dennis.

I took this picture of Dennis (below) and Taffy (above) on January 4:

Dennis looked like his usual self, tubby and content, but little did we know that he was, in fact, getting very sick.

When he took a nap on one of our dining room chairs later that month, on January 22, I had no reason to believe that he was not the healthy, dreamy kitty he’s always been in the three years that I have known him. Look at his body language! Everything about him says I’m happy and relaxed and do you have any turkey-flavored treats you want to give me?:

On February 1, he was napping in his favorite sunbeam in the hutch in our backyard and I called him, over and over, Dennis, Come inside, Dennis, It’s too cold for kittens, Dennis!

And he calmly blinked back at me,giving me that look that said Why is she yelling, and who is this Dennis?

He could always make me laugh.

I came home from my travels late on February 14 and I picked up Dennis to give him a hug and I was shocked. He had suddenly become very thin! This is always worrying. Then I remembered that his appetite had seemed to drop off in the past two weeks, but I assumed it was because his parents next door were feeding him something he liked better (and that’s what they thought, too, when he became a picky eater over at their house).

Dennis’ parents were away on a week-long trip to Florida, so I took him to the vet the next day, a Friday. The vet felt his tummy and could tell that his kidneys were enlarged and she also felt “a mass”. She took blood and gave me the results the next day.

Dennis is in kidney failure. He needs a sonogram to confirm our worst fears about that “mass”, so I got him the first available appointment with a specialist at the animal hospital, on Monday.

Late Sunday night, his parents came home from their own travels. I saw them Monday morning to tell them about our sick kitty, and this news stunned them for the same reasons it gob-smacked Top Cat and me — Dennis seemed so normal and healthy, all the way up until the time that his situation became catastrophic overnight.

We all went to the specialist together.

The specialist confirmed the worst. Dennis has lymphoma, a cancer that begins in the lymph nodes and spreads to other organs. In this case, Dennis’ kidneys are affected. The specialist told us that further  treatment (chemotherapy) is not recommended due to the severity of Dennis’ cancer and the damage done to his kidneys. Dennis’ prognosis is very poor. It’s a matter of days.

I have kissed him a hundred times, and told him how much I love him, and he is home now with his parents and his favorite blankets and toys. Although he is not in pain, he probably feels queasy due to the toxins that are building up in his body  due to his malfunctioning kidneys. He is being kept comfortable. We’ll know when it’s time to bundle him up and take him back to the vet, for the last time.

Dennis is seven years old. We had to chose a birthday for his hospital records, so I picked February 14, 2012. He’ll always be my Valentine.

May 12, 2016. The first photo of the new kitty in my backyard.


May 21, 2016. I think this new kitty is sizing us up.


June 23, 2016. Sure. Make yourself at home. My garden shed is your garden shed, stranger.


July 21, 2016. I think this one is a keeper. I better get my TNR ready.


12 Comments, RSS

  1. Megan

    Oh Vivian I am so sorry that this has happened to Dennis who looks to be the most wonderful of felines. This is such a tragedy and my heart goes out to you and Dennis and his parents. It is so very sad. Cats are such stoic creatures. He is loved, well cared for and lives in a great cat clan, he is fortunate in those things, however this seems to very senseless and heartbreaking. Thank you for coming back and making this update even if it is the worst news imaginable. Stay strong.

    • Vivian

      Thank you, Megan. We do take comfort in knowing that he chose us — me, Top Cat, the herd, and the people next door, as his family. He was purring until the last day, and he was eased out of this life very gently and in the arms of his Dad.

  2. Deborah

    I am so sorry to learn about poor little Dennis. It is so hard to see our sweet kitties fade away from disease. I’ve had countless kitties over the long years of my life, and they have always let me know (it is a spirit to spirit connection, of this I have no doubt) when it is time to let them go – and we make that final, merciful trip to the vet. Yes, there are always tears, but it is also a time of peace and joy: Peace, knowing their suffering has ended forever; and joy, because of the incredible blessing of love and beauty we shared over the years of their life.

    My prayers are with you, and with Dennis’s other family. And may you find peace and comfort, knowing you gave Dennis a wonderful, loving place to curl up and wallow in the sunshine, not to mention all the good eats that filled his tummy while frolicking at your house.

    You are greatly loved, dear Vivian

    • Vivian

      Thank you, Deborah. That’s what we did with Dennis. We kissed him and kept him comfortable and asked him to give us a sign for when it became too hard for him. His parents next door kept close watch and they knew last Monday morning that he was ready to make that final journey “home”. He is buried in a corner of the garden, where we will plant a rose bush so that when it blooms in Summer we will have something almost as lovely to remember him by.

  3. Oh Vivian, I am so, so sorry. You know I have a BIG spot in my heart for those Marmelade boys. They are just the best. And Dennis came into your life much the way Stimpy (my first) and later Gypsy came into mine — they chose us. (True, Dennis had another family too, but he CHOSE you.) There’s something special about that. Reading this reminds me so of returning from Europe in 2012 and Gypsy had just a few weeks. Kidneys. There is just no time to prepare your heart for saying goodbye. Not enough time for enough kisses. And of course, how would you know, especially with the two-house feeding thing. You and his family must be devastated and crushed. I’m sending loads of cyber hugs from Michigan to Roslyn, relieved that he is not in pain but oh, so sad. I have tears in my eyes as I read and write this. He is your funny Valentine, making you smile with your heart. He’s made us smile, too.

    • Vivian

      Yes, you know too well how these big ginger boys will break your heart every time, and every time it’s worth it. We miss sweet Dennis like crazy.

  4. Margaret

    Cats are too good at hiding discomfort when something is wrong. I’m sorry to hear of his illness but glad he has all the loving care he needs.

  5. Carol

    Oh, so sad to hear about Dennis. It’s especially difficult when they are too young to go. I lost my beloved Buster when he was eight and it was heartbreaking…still is. Dennis lived a good life with two families and lots of love and lots of character. He will be missed.

    • Vivian

      Thank you, Susan. We laid sweet Dennis to rest on Monday, in the neighbor’s garden, and as soon as it gets warm we will plant a rose bush there. He was a very good cat.

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