I am sad to report that Cow was put to sleep 2 weeks ago. He lived with us the past 12 years, defecting to us after his nearby previous owners adopted yappy little dogs. He had hung out in the backyard for some years before that, and one day the kids came home from school and found him sleeping comfortably on the recliner, having invited himself in through the broken window that our 'legitimate' cats used! If the previous owner's memory is accurate, he was at least 20 years old when he died.
Why he chose us I don't know. He had never been particularly friendly when he made his excursions through the yard, allowing a pat or two before deciding to strike out at you- an unpredictable type of cat. He didn't like our other cats, and was a bully especially to the females. He pretty much ignored the dogs. He voted himself the ruler of the roost.
No matter how crabby Cow could be at times, Kate never gave up on him; he was her special baby. He mellowed with age, and became quite sociable and even cuddly. When we got chickens, he took up chicken-watching, and he and Pip, the last remaining chicken, enjoyed sunbathing together on the deck, often in the same chair.
He was meticulous about his grooming, and kept that white fur pristine (usually!). He had health setbacks in recent years- kidney disease, which was under control, and the recurrent cancer which left him one-eared and quickly did him in- but he was happy and pain-free up to the end.
Cow was the last of the original menagerie who was with me when I started the blog almost 10 years ago. He was a photogenic guy, and when I had nothing interesting to say I could always post a Cow photo.
Now we are down to just one cat- it's at least 20 years since we've had only one pet. We will eventually get a new cat or two, and they will work their way into our hearts, but of course no one could ever take Cow's place.