We've known them for several years so they weren't strangers, but I suppose I'd better start at the beginning.
Back in, I think, about 2009, our friends J and S got three new kittens - Maggie and Prince (short-haired, black and white, brother and sister - Prince only had a stumpy tail because the mother had, weirdly, chewed it off when he was born), and Puffle (long-haired, all black except for white splodges, half-sister to Maggie and Prince). At this time, J and S lived about half a mile away from us. I popped down to visit and cuddle them - I've got some photos somewhere, I'll see if I can find them....
Prince (first 3 photos)- with a black nose and no tail; Maggie (next 2), sleeping on her head; Puffle (preposterously cute) - May 2009
Anyway, in November 2011, J and S moved house with their 3 kids and 3 cats and came to live directly opposite me in our small close. All the cats used to pop round for a visit (as, seemingly, all the cats in the close tend to do) primarily because, I think, we leave our upstairs back door open all summer long and the canny ones realise they can get in to eat our cats' food, but also because we feed the birds so there's always the opportunity of catching something feathered, and just over our back wall is woodland with all manner of enticing rodentry to hunt. Plus we like cats and will always make a bit of a fuss if one comes to visit.
Sadly, though, not long after they moved here, Prince got into a tussle with a car and it didn't end well for him, which was very sad. I loved his stumpy tail because he flicked it around as if he had a long tail attached and it amused me no end. Farewell, Prince.
Moving more up to date - about May last year, one of J and S's kids decided that they wanted to get some kittens of their own, so got 2 identical stripy tabby kittens. The idea was that the 2 remaining original cats - Maggie and Puffle - would just beat the kittens up a few times to show them who was boss, and they would all settle down to being a 4-cat household.
Maggie and Puffle had different ideas about this.
They basically flounced and made themselves voluntarily homeless, refusing to go back to J & S's apart from stopping by in the morning, eating some crunchies, hissing at the kittens, then leaving the house again. J would occasionally ask me if we'd seen Maggie because they had not clapped eyes on her literally for days.
Eventually, Puffle started hanging round more and more and, it being summer and the back door being open, we didn't mind. If you remember, we no longer had cats (Sylvester having departed in December 2013) so we didn't have any food. I think she just wanted the company and somewhere warm and safe to come to during the day. We'd kick her out at night when we went to bed, but she'd be at the back door crying to be let in as soon as we came down in the morning.
Maggie then realised that Puffle had latched on to a good thing and also started hanging out more with us. They then realised (this would probably be about August/Sept time) that if they started pestering us while we were eating our dinner, they most likely would be left a small bit, which they would wolf down. They were hungry. I decided I couldn't let them go without so we relented and started putting down a small bowl of crunchies for them (not least so they'd get their noses out of our damn plates while we were trying to eat!) We felt very guilty about this because, at this time, they were still J & S's cats, and I knew they missed them, and by feeding them we were encouraging them to stay with us rather than try and get along with the kittens and move back home. Trouble is felines are very independent and stubborn, and once they'd made their minds up, there was just no way they were going have anything to do with those interlopers.
All the while this was happening I was keeping J updated about what was going on, not least so that he didn't worry and knew that his cats weren't far away and were being looked after, and, in the end, in October I think it was, we decided that this was all a bit daft and the cats had made their choice, so we might as well become their official minions. J was sad about this but was grateful that we agreed to take them in rather than having them become vagrants just wandering around the close, scrounging food and getting in the bins where they could. Also it's not as if they were being adopted a million miles away from J & S - we are only a few steps away, and can, in fact, should we so wish, wave to each other from our sitting room windows. So very close indeed. I was also aware that the winter was just around the corner and just couldn't deal with the thought of them being out overnight in the cold and the wet with no food, they needed taking care of properly.
So we now have 2 cats! And although we said we weren't going to get any more cats once Sylvester had gone, I have to say the house feels SO much better and 'right' again. They're hugely entertaining and you can tell they're sisters as they have a love/hate relationship with each other - they will groom each other frantically and, inevitably, it'll descend into a wrestle and a scrap. And they're enormous love-bugs. We've had 3 cats previously in this house - Suki, Sylvester and Pepper - and none of them were the lap cats that these two are, which is just lovely.
So, that's the story of how we got some new moggies, and I'll leave you a selection of photos of the two of them making themselves very much at home, thank you: