The Worst Halloween Ever

handsome tabby cat looking into camera

October 31, 2010. The day my nightmare as a Cat Mom came true.

Up front let me say, I have gone around in circles on whether or not to post this, mostly because I have strived to publish nothing but happy cat humor across all my social media accounts. However, my experience as a cat rescuer sometimes hands me lessons that have sad endings, and yet they provide me with an insight on what to watch for with future rescues.

Kenny was one of those sad lessons that I continue to ache over, even twelve years later. This is his story.

The front yard was set up like a mini graveyard with homemade Styrofoam tombstones and a giant blow-up black widow spider. A furry brown spider, about the size of a bed pillow, was attached to a clear string and pulled to make it jump as Trick or Treaters walked past it. Often the parents jumped higher than the spider.

Two days before I’d noticed my long-haired tabby, Kenny, wasn’t eating. Kenny always ate, so this was a red flag. I’d lost my older tabby, Moose, to horrible kidney failure a couple years previous. His mouth had been filled with poison, making it impossible for him to eat. So I rushed Kenny to the vet. He was diagnosed with a mouth infection and an overactive thyroid. Tests indicated he had kidney disease, but I was told to have him rechecked again in 1-2 months. And we were sent home.

That was on a Saturday. The vet clinic closed after noon, and any problems would be addressed by an emergency vet clinic. I monitored Kenny closely for the day, with my instincts screaming that something more was wrong. I wasn’t happy that I’d been sent home without more information. I’m a full-throttled kind of information girl. I keep religious records of every cat, from yearly vaccinations, to abscesses, to what medication they took for sneezing. I know how much they weighed on any given vet visit. What they went in for and what meds were prescribed.

two tabby cats snuggling together on a cushion
Kenny seemed listless, but he did eat. I decided I wouldn’t wait the 1-2 months for a recheck. I’d take him back when they opened on Monday and demand a more thorough examination.

Halloween night…kids are flocking to our driveway, squealing and jumping with the brown spider. Upstairs, Kenny is bleeding from his urinary tract.

Shaking with fury, I run him to the emergency clinic where they tell me his bladder is the size of a baseball. They inserted a catheter, but he had to be manually expressed. Over the next two days he refused to eat. His kidneys were shutting down, creating blockage.

My regular veterinarian talked to the emergency vet to get answers. She felt as upset as I was that she had not diagnosed the severity of Kenny’s problems. She was told that his kidneys weren’t failing from any diet that I fed him, but rather from toxins his kidneys were producing.

In short, it was just Mother Effing Nature taking him down, without consideration to my feelings, or the fact that Kenny was only eight years old. Too young to die!

Tabby cat getting a full body shave
On November 3rd I was called in to say goodbye. What upsets me to this day is that I never saw this coming. Kenny wasn’t a Drama Queen, like 95% of my other cats. He was a quiet, sweet angel who readily offered to warm my lap. He ate without complaint. He didn’t have aggression issues. He loved to have his whole body shaved in the summertime, and would lie on his back in order for me to shave down his tummy and even his arm pits. I’d sing, ‘Kenny Kenny Coco Pie,’ and he’d run to me, his fluffy tail in the air, ready to hang out with me.

two tabby cats sleeping with one resting his head on the other cat's bottom

At the clinic, they brought Kenny in to me, and gave us privacy to say goodbye. He had a tube inserted into his urinary tract. He looked fine! That’s was really gets me. He was normal looking. All set to get the hell out of there and go home. He kept nudging me, anxious to get off the table. After ten minutes, I was ready to get this over with. I so wanted to run him out of there with complete denial that it was happening at all.

I’d just lost my beloved snowshoe Siamese, Holly, in April. That she lived to be 18 was beside the point. I was still grieving. And now I was losing Kenny. To say I was roiling angry at myself is putting it lightly. I take my responsibility as their guardian with as much seriousness as any parent would their children. I go without in order to afford their medical care and the best of food, always done with intense research. There is no slacking on my part when it comes to my cats. But sometimes no matter how much you know, how much you care, how much you love, there is nothing you can do to make it all better. Sometimes there are no second chances.

tabby on desk inspecting paperwork

I had Kenny cremated. His urn is a handsome wood block with a brass plate and his photo, the best I’d ever taken of him. I remember the day: sunny and clear. He sat in my lap in the sun room and I took his photo close up. Handsome boy!

My stomach tightens whenever I dust his urn. I tear easily at the thought of him. That’s not a good way to remember someone you loved. You’re supposed to be filled with joy that you had them in your life. But with Kenny, I feel that I let him down. I wish that he had been a Drama Queen, grabbing my attention on a daily or even hourly basis, as some of mine do. I may not have been able to save him, regardless if he’d been closely monitored, but that he was in pain and I didn’t know it will eat away at me forever.

two tabby cats lying on one chair under a table

I didn't realized Kenny and Moose were almost inseparable until I went through old photos and saw how many I'd taken of them together. Moose was a full-on feral polydactyl who had suffered great loss when his lady Maggie left us when we lived in Kentucky, and his baby brother Logan disappeared when we moved to Mississippi. It was then that I brought Moose indoors, and it was then he and Kenny apparently became best friends.

I’m determined that Kenny didn’t die in vain. Now aware that my Drama Queens could distract me from another non-Drama Queen, I pay that much closer attention to them so that the unfortunate end of Kenny’s life was a lesson to me, and through my telling of his story, to all who share their lives with multiple pets.

God has the final say on the demise of all of His creatures. For those of us sanctioned with the honor of caring for His creatures, let us honor Him by doing them right.

Love them. Hug them. Feed them good food. Listen to your inner voice warning you something is wrong, and demand answers.

This is how I will always remember Kenny, lying in the cat apartment litter box pretending it's just another day at the beach.


  1. Sorry that this happened to Kenny - and to you. We have owned cats for more than 45 years and have made or allowed some mistakes we wish we could have prevented .Hopefully the love of these animals will forgive us.

  2. I am sorry that you lost Kenny so young. Life can be so unfair. XO


Your comments make us purr. Thank you for taking the time to tell us what you think.