Of course, the down side of pet ownership is that eventually they will die. I'll admit that I've buried a few in the back yard, but there may be ordinances against that sort of disposal. So generally we've been cremating them, as you can see by the collection of cremains from the last 10+ years. I'm thinking that as work progresses on the back yard observatory, I'll eventually cast the ashes into a cement step at the entrance...
The Current Population: We've currently got 8 cats living in the house. While we know that keeping them indoors is the safest situation, a couple decades ago I built a "cat proof" fence that does a reasonable job of keeping them restricted to the house and back yard. Of the eight, only 3 of the recently-turned ferals that are still pretty athletic can get over the fence. As it is, they all go over a 9 foot wall at the back gate, and I've never figured out how to prevent that. So the current strategy is we're slowly fattening them up so they are unable to escape!
Of course, they think the purpose of the house is to please them and they are truly the heads of the household. Case in point are the black cats at left - two cats and there is no room on the queen-sized futon to sit... By the way, the two black cats are our most recent addition - Squeakers in on the left and Henry on the right (I think - or the reverse!).
I used to kid bloggin' buddy Ken when he would post his cats' pictures and not know which cat was which. And they didn't really look similar! We've got a bigger problem in that of the 4 boys, 3 are fully black and while we could tell them apart when they first arrived, as they tame down and put on a couple pounds, they are mostly identical! At left is the friendliest cat and second newest (and the first to go over the wall!), Squeakers (his meow is more of a squeak). Compared to Henry at right, he has a longer body, is a pound or so larger, and has slightly coarser hair... Henry is our latest arrival, likely too the youngest and has an amazingly soft coat along his spine. He is enjoying the regular meals, though I still find him missing from the yard at breakfast time. He comes running when I call, though, so he doesn't wander far - he does love his Fancy Feast...
Sugar Pants may be our oldest boy - arriving about 12 years ago. At the time I had a student renting out the spare bedroom and we couldn't think of a name, and finally the day he went in for his neuter job, she suggested "Sugar Pants", which was embarrassing when they called out his name as I picked him up at the shelter after he was done! He is also a "sprayster" and is most-likely to mark his territory. It is a good thing he is so cute and friendly, as cleaning up after him isn't fun. And the more he marks, the more the other boys are prompted to do the same...
Our second-oldest cat, though she very much resembles a kitten is Mia. She showed up at the Mirror Lab on campus as school let out in May 2004. We figure she was living with students in the dorm under the football stadium and was "set free" when school was out. She is just about our owliest cat - DOES NOT get along with any of the others, though she will accept people. As a result, she gets her own bedroom to stay in which she will share with humans when we get company staying over. She is very petite and still very athletic for her 12+ years. If she would just learn to play with others...
And finally we've got Lucy! At the time 4.5 years ago we weren't looking for a cat, but after all that our vet has done for us (30% shelter discount!), when she calls asking if we can "foster" a kitten, you've gotta do her that favor! After some health issues, she had adopted it from a shelter, but her adult cats were beating up on her, so she called on us. She has had some issues - a head-tilt and perhaps some brain damage from her earlier health issues, and sometimes "forgetting" which side of the litter box to use (sometimes NOT the inside!). But she is so cute that we put up with her. She is our most kitten-like, though she is a little meatloaf-shaped! Fortunately, after discovering the cat doors to the back yard, the litter box issues were moved outside where they were less of an issue.
Well there you have it - all have their own personalities and traits. Some have little problems and issues, but we love them all and do our best to keep them in good health. We still put food out front for the ferals in the neighborhood, but I don't see many. I think Squeaks and Henry are sneaking out eating what we put out. Old habits die hard, I guess!