Nic had two cats when I met her, litter-mates that she'd had since they were a few weeks old, 14 years ago: Clarence (above), a boy, and Irving, a girl. I'm allergic to cats and had never had cats as pets, but after a visit to my allergist and a few lengthy interviews, Nic's cats and I fell in love with each other pretty effortlessly.
We still have Irving, but we had to put Clarence down in early December. Both were pretty spry and active for their age, but he somehow developed an intestinal condition that, over several weeks, deteriorated his ability to digest (or even hold down) food or water. It became evident that a return to health was extremely unlikely even with surgery, so we made the decision to let him go. It was pretty rough.
They looked pretty identical to me at first, but gradually I could tell them apart by appearance and personality. Clarence was more social with strangers. He was also a fastidious, and sometimes obsessive, self-groomer, and tended to lick parts of himself bare - like his belly, and the base of his tail, which was notched as a result.
He'd also sit with us at dinner, taking the chair at the head of the table to watch us eat, sometimes resting his chin on the table. He would ask for pets by petting you, usually on the leg. He didn't talk much, leaving that to his sister.
I liked to get him wound up by whapping him on the backside when petting him. His game was to run away for a second to scratch on the arm of the couch, and then come back, biting at my hand until I started whapping him again, over and over.
Sometimes when he wanted attention, he'd fetch his little Snoopy doll from wherever it was and trot over to one of us (usually Nicole) to drop it, generally about a foot beyond our reach. He'd usually meow as he brought it over, with the sound muffled by the doll in his mouth. Sometimes he'd actually bring it back if she threw it, which just killed me.
He liked to lick and rub my head with his, usually when I was watching TV, by climbing up to the top of the couch behind me. He did this more with me than with Nic; she said he liked guys more. He also really liked riding around on my shoulders, and would sit up there while I worked from home during the final months that he had energy enough to climb up.
He was my little bud. Not having ever been a cat person, it surprised me how empty I felt when he was gone.
For a month or so afterward we tried to figure out if Irving missed him, or was lonely, or even noticed that he wasn't around. Before he got sick, they'd to rough-house a bit every day, and slept together often. But I don't know how cats work. I couldn't tell if she did, or whether it was us being heartbroken and missing him that made us think she was too.
We decided a couple weeks ago it might be time to bring a new cat into our family, and trekked out to the Humane Society a few times to interview candidates Nicole had found online. Yesterday we brought one home: a little 9-month old boy.
He moves like a ninja - but a very clumsy one. He's an aggressive cuddler. The name on his paperwork is "Jr." but we're not sure he fits it. So far we've narrowed it down to Wyatt, or Rudy, or Otis. We're more or less sequestering him in the office until he gets comfortable with us (he's quite skittish until he remembers we're friends). This morning we introduced him to Irving, who didn't really seem pleased. We're hoping she warms up to him soon; he seems eager to get to know her.