We have five cats living at our house. When dh and I merged seven (or is it eight?) years ago, we each had four cats apiece. We downsized to four altogether about a year or so ago. Then we found this one...she is the most interesting cat I've ever lived with.
We found her on the way to Petsmart one summer day...a woman was sitting in her car and "pssst! Pssst! Do you want a cat?" The first response was no, thank you, of course we had enough...until we saw her. She is little and black and lithe, like mercury...she had thirteen white hairs under her chin. The woman was furtive. "We were going to get this cat at the SPCA" she began. "Then they told us she wasn't available, so we bought this one. Now we've just gotten a call and it seems we can pick up the other one after all...we really don't need two. Would you like this one? I paid $75 dollars for her" - she thrust the receipts at us- "and she's had all her shots" - again with a fistful of papers. She seemed just wacky enough, at that moment, to soften us up...and then the kitty was ours.
We handed her over to Princess #2 in the car on the way home, and they have been inseparable ever since. These two do everything together! We named the little cat Princess Licorice, but her nickname is Midget...it doesn't seem like she's grown too much in the last couple of years. She's the only one we allow in the house - OK, she pretty much lives in the house all the time...she and the littlest girl have an unreal bond, quite interesting to watch. No matter how tortured, this cat bounds back and asks for more. And at night they curl up together like they came from the same litter or something. It's really sweet.
The tenants that lived here before us had eight cats and when they left, one got left behind (they were driving to Florida in a motor home...I often wondered how that worked out for them, he he.) They called later and told us if we found her, we should call such-and-such, they would come retrieve her. Evidently she was the matriarch, the oldest and probably the mom to all the others. We saw her only briefly in the first days of settling in, and then she disappeared.
It took about a year before she started showing up again, shadowlike, sitting at the edge of the garden. Another year before she would enter the garage where the other cats lived, attempting to eat along with them. She always looked pretty healthy, so we let her be. Months went by before dh was able to touch her, and then she was like a starving thing, starving for love and to reclaim her home. She became the most affectionate one of the outside bunch, and enjoyed her days curled up on her special pillow by the dryer.
A couple of weeks ago dh mentioned he thought Mama Cat (as P. #2 named her - after all, she looked pretty much like Midget's mommy!) looked older and frailer than usual. Softy to the core, he ran out and got her a litter box and dishes, setting up a nice bed for her, convinced she'd never survive another mountain winter outdoors. The next day, she ventured inside for the first time - we were surprised to see her, and even more shocked when she jumped up on our bed and snuggled in. I snapped this picture of her right away.
The next day she wandered outside, and we never saw her again.
Goodbye, Mama Cat. May the angels guide you home.