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Denzel: A Stray's Story

June 4, 2009 - Denzel came to our attention while we were looking for another cat, Target, who had run away from home. We heard Target was hanging around behind a service centre downtown. Instead of him, we found Denzel, a long haired black male who had clearly been lost for a long time. His fur was badly matted and his ears frost-bitten right down to nothing.

We don't know where he came from or how he got here. He probably kept himself alive by dining from restaurant dumpsters and seeking shelter among some discarded building materials.

The Lost Boy is Found

Denzel was easy to catch, he was quite weak and had no fight in him at all. But he had some surprises in store for us. At his first vet appointment, the doctor said Denzel had already been neutered and tattooed. And the coding of his tattoo indicated he could be 18 years old!

She vaccinated him and shaved his entire body except for his head and legs to remove the mats. Hard to say which was more shocking... the sight of a bald Denzel or a fur coat that was so densely matted, it came off in one piece.

Denzel is now resting comfortably and eating well. We're watching him closely for any health issues. And we're still trying to trace his tattoo to confirm his age and where he came from. Whatever his age, he'll get lots of TLC from his friends at the Pet Network.

We'll update this page with news of Denzel's progress as his story continues.

June 8 update: Today I was in touch with Melissa at the Winnipeg Humane Society, which has a database of tattooed animals. A few more surprises have come to light. Based on Denzel's ear tattoo, he is actually 13 years old (born in 1996) and originally came from the Vancouver SPCA. His name is Panda Bear!

The Humane Society is now trying to locate the last owner he was registered to and will let me know if they find him. But at least now Panda Bear/Denzel has a name, a birthplace, and a birth year. Now if only he had some hair, he'd be much happier.

June 17 update: Still no news on Denzel's adoptive family. We may never know how he wound up in Virden and how he came to be homeless. But the good news is he's feeling stronger every day and sure loves to eat.

His coat is growing in strangely, not solid black like the original but a lovely swirling marble effect with browns, greys and blacks. Very handsome (well, not now but soon!) Who would like to give this distinguished and brave older gentleman a safe and loving retirement home?

Sept. 8, 2009 Update: At right is the latest picture of Denny with his coat nearly all grown in, except for his tail and a thin strip down his back... but those will come.

He's feeling and looking better than ever, all he lacks is a permanent home and a special someone to curl up with on a cold winter evening. Do you need a lap warmer that purrs?

Nov. 12, 2009 Update: Denny surprises us by making friends with Sapphire, a quiet, good mannered Siamese who spent a few days with us until she was adopted. Kindred spirits, I guess. They both know what it's like to be homeless.

Nov. 17, 2009 Update: Some distressing news today. Denny was diagnosed with chronic renal failure (CRF). Fortunately it was discovered in its very early stages, so as long as he gets the right food and health care he could have many good years ahead.

Nov. 19, 2009 Update: Denzel Gets His Angel! And her name is Liz Oliver from Holland, Manitoba. Liz read Denny's story here on the website and decided to do something really wonderful for him. She decided to give him the home he's waited so long for.

Coincidentally, Liz has had a cat with CRF who she cared for right til the end. So when she learned of Denzel's diagnosis, she didn't falter for a second. And today, Denzel went to his forever home.

Words can't express how we feel about Liz. Her big heart and generous spirit have touched us all deeply. As soon as Denny is settled into his new home, we'll get Liz to send us a photo of her family: one dog, four cats, and a 2-legged angel.

Nov. 21, 2009 Update: Another health scare for poor Denzel. Liz reports he's been having seizures -- short ones and not too violent, but she got him to the vet asap. We learned that kidney disease often comes with high blood pressure which can cause seizures.

Denzel is now getting medication to lower his BP. He's been stable for several days so we hope this is the end of his surprises, at least for a while!

Dec. 1, 2009 Update: No more seizures! The medication and special food are working, says Liz. Denny is also starting to feel more at home. His bedroom happens to be Liz's home office, so they spend much time together. Liz recently wrote:

"Denzel likes his food and is eating well. He seems to like only this room - when I bring him out to the rest of the house, he runs and hides. But whenever he is in here, he is very confident - sometimes he even jumps up onto the computer desk where I am working. I put a bar stool under the window - and he LOVES it. He jumps up on that, then up onto the window sill several times a day/night and gazes out. Of course, when he gets his cat tree this weekend, he can lay and snooze there as long as he likes."

March 17, 2010 Update Denzel in his new Burberry sports jacket, ready for plenty of adventure and intrique! The pic is a bit fuzzy but that's okay... he probably doesn't want to be recognized! (Note the cell phone pocket... nice touch, Denny.) His "staff person" Liz says he hasn't had any signs of illness at all this year. His health is good and he is spoiled rotten. And now with his new sports jacket, he looks as dashing as he feels.

March 31, 2010 Update: Back To The Beginning Just when I was thinking we'd never know where Denzel came from, Betty Mailhiot from Oak Lake Beach phoned to reveal his true identity. She said:

"My sister Heather was living in Vancouver and she had this black cat named Bear. She decided to go work on the cruise ships and had to find a home for him. So I flew out there and brought Bear back to Virden. He went to live with my mother in her downtown apartment behind the movie theatre. But one day, after about six months, he slipped out the open door. That was the last time we saw him, even though we organized search parties and kept looking for two years."

Denzel must have been a good hider because by Betty's calculations, he spent up to 4 years homeless in the alleys and dumpsters of Virden. A good hider and a great survivor.

Dec. 2010: Love Lifts Him Up Where He Belongs It's been one year since Denzel was adopted to Liz. "There he is! Every morning at 5 a.m... I glance over my shoulder and he is sitting up there continually staring at me, silently demanding his food... the breakfast stare down!!!"

Liz says Denny often "helps" her while she teaches English to her online students in Korea. They see him on the web cam and have struck up a friendship with Mr. Denny, as they call him. Imagine going from complete obscurity just 1 year ago to international fame!

Liz reports his health remains good. And that's the best xmas present we could ask for! You go, Denny D!

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