stripey, you are not alone in your experience.
i am a COMPLETE cat convert!
never had cats OR dogs growing up. didn't know a thing about caring for them or what they were like or ANYTHING.
then one day my husband took in a stray - much to my dismay and against my "better" judgment. well, talk about turning my world upside down! i've mentioned this all before in earlier threads, but within a few weeks, i went from saying "the cat has to stay in the garage", to having her sleep on my chest in bed every night!!! i fell HARD in love with her. we only had her a few months, though.
she was diagnosed with cancer on her first trip to the vet and we had to let her go. we were both so heartbroken and couldn't face going home to an empty house even one more night, that we went to the shelter the very next day and adopted Angel who needed us just as much as we needed her.
she is my whole world now. i don't even care that i might never travel again. i don't care that she's a lot of responsibility. i love that she's independent, but also unbelievably lovable and affectionate. i love everything about her. now we're putting an addition on our house so we can adopt MORE kitties and foster some as well!!! and like you, my only regret and shock is that i went 44 years without knowing the love of cats.
i'm going to spend the rest of my life now making up for lost time.
i'm so happy for you. welcome to the club!!!