Boise's most legendary cat lived for sixteen years... AT THE OLD IDAHO PENITENTIARY, and paved the way for a better future for Treasure Valley pets. Here's the story...

My niece was in town so we went and took the tour at the Old Idaho Penitentiary and it's perhaps, one of the most fascinating places, historically, in the Treasure Valley. With a rich history of holding prisoners for over one hundred years, including death row, hangings, solitary confinement, famous escapes and all the other things you'd find in a normal prison's story, it also has holds the story of one particularly unique resident who didn't commit a crime at all, Dennis, the cat.

Somewhere around 1952, some inmates stumbled upon a kitten and waited for it's mother to return, but she never did, so eventually they snuck him into the prison hoping the staff would never find out but that only lasted about two weeks. Much to the inmates' surprise, the staff embraced Dennis the cat and they kept him around. He befriended the inmates and would ride in for attendance in the mornings on someone else's shoulders every day. He had plenty of food and love at the prison and it quickly became his home. In 1968, at the ripe old age of 16, Dennis passed away and they suspended all work at the prison for the entire day as it was a day of mourning. Dennis was buried on site and his headstone is still easy to find to this day.

Since the passing of Dennis the cat, "Dennis the cat day" is celebrated every year and food and monetary donations are collected for the Idaho Humane Society. It truly is a beautiful story of a cat that wove his way into history and unknowingly helps other cats, even 69 years after his death.

Get our free mobile app

28 Google Street View Images That Show Just How Much Boise Has Changed

You Won't Recognize This 123 Year Old Idaho Home After It's HUGE Make-Over