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.