Our three cats, Murjan, Intrepid, and Simone, are not the only cats who have passed through our hands. When we lived in Jordan, where people, mainly from fear, abuse cats, Donnie and I rescued 24 of them, most of whom we turned over to a wonderful shelter that a British lady had built on a hillside. There the animals could run free and be fed and taken care of by vets. It was like a wide-open zoo where the animals, of which there were all kinds (horses, dogs, cats, birds), could come and go as they chose. All, as far as I know, chose to stay. Many were adopted, especially by foreign diplomats who were used to having animals as pets.
Of all those cats, we kept six and brought home four. We had to give two of the ones we had adopted to the animal shelter because when Donnie returned from Jordan, it was summer, and in the summer animals are not transported; it is too hot in the hold of the plane. Of those two, one, Snowflake, was adopted by a British family and is now, we believe, residing in the British Isles. Doah was particularly attached to that cat, so it was a difficult choice to part with him. However, he much preferred to be an only "child" (er, cat) than one of many, and the chance to be the darling of a British family seems perfect for him. The other one, Newbie, was a wonderfully loving cat who slept in bed with me under the covers, with his head on the pillow. I rescued him when he was in bad shape, and the vet did not believe he would live. He weighed only a few pounds. Once he improved, he kept eating. There was no way we could stop him; he ballooned to the size of a raccoon but was otherwise healthy. Unfortunately, he got a meal of the Chinese-produced cat food that killed so many cats worldwide and perished not long after we came back to the States. I am happy, though, that his last two years were pleasant ones where he was well taken care of.
Of the cats that we brought back, one was Biseh, the last cat we rescued. (Biseh means "cat" in Arabic; we kinda ran out of names!) She used to hang out at the university that I presided over. Some of the students were kind to her, but others were not. When a group of young men decided to use her as a football, I grabbed her and took her home. It took her a month to come out from under the bed, but she is now happily leaving with Shane. She loves Nathaniel and Nikolina and enjoys spending days hanging out in their backyard. She is a very lucky cat.
Another lucky cat is Abby. Abby was one of three kittens who were abandoned when their mother died. Their mother was a feral cat whom we had been feeding. She most likely died of feline AIDS, which is an epidemic among the feral cat population in our town and the primary reason that we don't try to tame and domesticate them. We don't want to infect our three cats who are AIDS-free. When I returned from one of my trips, Donnie told me that he had heard meowing day and night between our neighbor's house and our fence, but that the sounds were becoming fainter. We checked with the neighbor, and she confirmed that she had seen the mother dead and knew that there were kittens there, but the fence was so close to her house that she could not reach the kittens. I followed the sounds of their cries and broke the fence at that point, finding three kittens clinging to a vine: gray, orange, dark multicolor. They could not have been more than two weeks old. We named them Possum, Cody, and Abby. The picture of Abby peering out from a coat was taken a full four weeks after we rescued them.
Poor Donnie got stuck with handfeeding them multiple times a day. I helped when I was home, and a visiting friend, an NICU nurse, had some ideas how to get Abby, who refused to eat, to take the bottle. It worked. Abby grew. In time, we were able to find people to adopt the kittens. One of my colleagues adopted both Possum and Cody, who were so bonded that it would have been a shame to split them (and would have been difficult for them). Abby was adopted by another colleague who gives me frequent updates. Under his care, Abby grew and grew and grew and grew. That huge animal in the picture with the bushy tail is little Abby all grown up. It turns out that she is, at least in part, a Norwegian forest cat, and they are very big cats.