So many cats, so many stories!
I would say that I will make this brief, but once I get going...you might as well grab a cup of coffee and put your feet up.
I was raised in a house that always had cats. Always 2-3 at any given time. They were also all indoor / outdoor cats so I spent much of my youth rescuing and rehabbing any of their gifts that could be saved. It was very common for us to have bunnies, squirrels, birds and even the occasional bat.
When I moved into my first apartment I took our beautiful sleek black female, T.C (for "that cat") to live with me. She was small, like a 7 month old kitten size, even though she was in her late teens. We had always taken the runts of the litter. She was a phenomenal hunter (which was great since my apartment had mice) and always the lover. She could curl up on me for hours on end and always slept on my pillow next to my head. By the time my gorgeous little angel passed she was nearly 22 years old!
Shortly after that my husband and I bought a house and with it came his family's HUGE orange tabby, Tommy. He was also in his late teens and was a kind of a grouch, at least towards me, He didn't like sharing his person with me. He had loads of personality and always knew exactly what he wanted, and wanted it NOW! When he didn't get his way he would get up on the nearest counter or dresser and one by one, swat things on to the floor while staring at us like "Oh, you like this? Well, I like food (attention etc.) so give me what I want now, human, and if you are lucky your trinket may survive my wrath!"
When he passed he was 22.
Losing two of our lifelong pets so close together we were both pretty emotionally raw, so we opted for a dog.
Within a year or so I was pulling into the garage with my kids in tow and my middle kid said "Hey Mom, There's a cat!". That ended up being shortened into Tac which turned into his name. A little orange tabby, male, no more than 8 months old. Obviously malnourished, filthy, weak and very underweight.
Knowing he was feral I left him in the garage with the door open a crack so he could leave whenever he wanted. I made him a comfy warm bed, gave him plenty of food (laced with a weight booster and vitamins) and water, groomed and cleaned him regularly with flea and tick shampoo and before I knew it he was looking pretty darn healthy and good.
The kids were under orders not to let him in the house because I had not yet wrangled him to get him to the vet for shots and stuff, but, as children are wont to do, he was in the house in a little over a month.
With continued added vitamins and a lot of high quality food (both canned and dry) he turned into a huge mellow beast. Even though he always remained mostly feral he was probably the most calm and gentle cat I have ever met. Never a nip or a scratch or even an angry word, unless we didn't let him out at night. At night he hunted, didn't matter the weather, even 60 below didn't deter him. The few times he did stay in was after particularly brutal fights when he came home ragged and bleeding. he would let me administer as much first aid as necessary and sleep for a few days. Then he was back at it.
He never became really affectionate, he was very passive with us humans. We could pet him all day and he would just lay there, never purred or nuzzled.
After a few years he went outside one night and never came back and despite my extensive searching I never found him.
Shortly after that my Aunt (also a huge cat lover) rescued a litter of kittens from a very bad home life and a very sick mother and started looking for homes immediately since she couldn't care for anymore at that time.
She found forever homes for all but two and was getting worried about them.
Of course despite my husbands displeasure, I jumped right in and said I would take them both if no one else would. That brought Adele and Early into my life.
They were only about 4 weeks old, infested with ear mites, filthy and sickly. After about a week of intensive home care I brought them into the vet to be told it was likely neither would make it. I wasn't about to take that for an answer and put my all into making them as healthy as I had made Tac. It took months of them being exhausted and sad looking but it worked!
The boy, Early, was a long haired black male. Absolutely stunningly gorgeous and a total lover. He wasn't too big into play, although his favorite pastime was "the grizzly bear". He would lurk in a dark corner where no one could see him and then pounce out, rear up on his hind legs, claw the air like a vicious bear, and then saunter off smiling, clearly loving our startled reaction. But mostly he loved just curling up with the nearest human and getting all the love we had to give.
On the other hand, the girl, Adele, was a ball of energy. She was a a gray tabby, sleek and thin and small. Perfect for jumping 6 feet in the air to snatch any unsuspecting ladybug that happened into the house, from midair, land as gracefully as a ballerina and calmly sashay away chewing as if it was as natural as breathing. She amazed me daily.
Three years later I was wandering through the pet store and for some foolish reason I let my kids lead me over to the kennels since it was adoption day. i told them it was a horrible idea because I was so weak and that my husband, their dad, would KILL me if I brought home a third.
20 minutes later I was driving home to pick up the cat carrier to bring home Jimmy. He was a sweet, bitey little orange tabby with gorgeous golden eyes, roughly 6 weeks old. I fell in love the moment I held him and he started chewing on my finger, hard. He was a huge nuisance for my calm Early, but he and Adele hit it off almost immediately and took to constantly play fighting, chasing each other about and trying to outdo each other with their magical cat skills. He was really good, but no one was ever better than my Adele.
He would play with Adele until he was exhausted and then curl up with Early and sleep. It was perfect.
Until a few months later when Early became ill, after vet visits, force feeding, medication and everything else we could do I had to make the sad decision to put him down. The vet said that his kidneys and other internal organs were never properly formed, likely from the poor health of the Queen and his awful first month. The vet said on the day I brought him in that he wouldn't have made it to the next day anyway. :'(
A year or so later Adele started to show the same signs that Early did and the vet gave her the same prognosis. There was nothing they could do. I tried everything I could to keep up her strength and give her all the love I could, but within a couple of months she was gone.
Jimmy was so lonely and heartbroken so I started searching rescues for his new best friend. That is when I found my Dibo.
He is another long haired black cat, and an absolute clown. He was only six weeks old when I took him in, he was very small, but was in much better health than almost all of my previous cats, so he was a piece of cake! Jimmy was now an adult and easily irritated with the rambunctious little monster, but eventually he warmed up to him. More or less.
Now, My Big Jimmy is 3+ years and my "little" Dibo is 10 months and I have a new feral kitten, 3 weeks old. A beautiful little polydactyl calico that has yet to be named but I have been calling her monkey because of the amazing grip she has with her little thumbs. I took her in at only 2 days old, and so far she is thriving. I wrote more details about her in the feral section so I suppose I can finally stop typing.
Told you it would be long.