At my maximum I had about 15 or 16 cats. Of all of those, not one was preplanned.
It went something like this:
We had no cats until one day a stray got accidentally locked in our garage. We couldn't find her owners, so decided to keep her, named her Rumpleteaser (I think I had just seen Cats for the first time
)... found out she was pregnant and had... I think FIV? We're going back about 15 years on this, so I'm not 100% on what it was. But whatever it was, I remember the doctor telling us that the kittens could get it and it would be horrible, etc. So after having her for 1 week, we had her put down. We were newbie cat owners and did what we thought was in the best interest for her and the kittens.
After having her only one week we were still heartbroken. I still remember my mom and I sitting in the parking lot of the vets office sobbing for almost an hour after we brought her in. Luck would have it that the next day we went to visit my mother's aunt only to find out that her cat had gotten out, came home pregnant and she had a litter of very adorable babies.... and we came home with Gemini. The next year the same thing happened and we came home with Apache. On one hand you would think my mom's aunt would have gotten her cat spayed, but then if she did we would have never had Gem or Pache.
A few years later I went to one of my all time favorite stores, Medieval Mayhem. As soon as I walked in the door I saw their little westie going NUTS. When I asked why the owner ran in the back of the store and brought me this huge box with a little black ball of fuzz in the corner. She said she had found him abandoned behind the store and couldn't keep him because she was allergic to cats. I took him, figured he was about a week old, ran to the pet store to get a bottle and formula... and that's how I got Mayhem.
A few months after getting Mayhem I was moving to a new apartment. I was taking Mayhem to the vet to get all his records to give to my new landlord when I saw a little orange tabby in a cage at the office... horribly frightened of everyone, every thing, every noise, etc. He had been beaten horribly by the neighborhood kids, but when they let me take him out of the cage he was immediately attached to me. He wouldn't stop licking my face long enough to let me write out the check for his adoption fee! I couldn't let him stay there and be scared, and I knew mom was keeping Gem and Pache at her house since they were really her cats... Mayhem needed a buddy at the new apartment... and that little tabby boy, now known as Azrael, came home with me.
A little after I had moved into my new apartment I went to the nail place at the local mall, and low and behold there was a pet store next to the nail place. While walking past I noticed a little black and white kitten in the corner of the window who just looked like he needed a friend... and home came Jack.
After I moved back home, a stray cat had two litters of kittens under my mother's shed... and thats where we got (ok lets see if I can get this straight...
) First litter: Samson, Isosceles, Gizmo, Angel, Bootsy Second litter: Cleo, Max, Tabby, and a fourth we never named because we found her a home.
Shortly after this, yet another cat showed up on our doorstep. He lived on our front porch (voluntarily) for three months until it started to get cold and we finally agreed to let him in. I nicknamed him John Doe figuring hey, we don't know who he is... Once he came inside he became Johnny.
And then, after I moved to Florida, I went back to NY last september for a visit. While there I was visiting a friend in the city who lives near Fort Tryon Park. While sitting on a bench against the wall of the park chatting with my friend about nothing in particular, we heard a rustling in the bushes behind us. We jumped up expecting a rat only to find a severely emaciated kitten trying to make friends with us. We fed her and tried to get her into a no kill shelter. When that didn't work, I tried to get her into a shelter with a 90% adoption rate. No go. Instead got yelled at by the manager for "not thinking of this sooner!" because I had to hop a plane back home the next day. And as funny as this sounds... when I was at the shelter talking to the manager, the kitten peed on me... and I thought "this is her way of telling me she just does not want to be here". So with a roll of my eyes, I left the shelter, paid the extra $50 to Delta and flew her to Florida to live with me.... and now we have Tryon.
I always joke that I never need to go out and adopt a cat. When there's one out there who needs me, he/she will just show up!