Ripley came to us in 1992; DH actually bought him from a pet store in Engelwood, Ohio - because there aren't enough free cats in the world. The first couple of years we had Ripley, we lived in an apartment in Troy, along with his big brother Booger, and then the Big Kid arrived. We never saw Ripley in that apartment; he spent his days under the water heater, next to the pilot light. How he never went up in flames, I have no idea. He would come out at night to play with superballs we'd get form gumball machines; the "foyer" and dining room was vinyl floor, and he'd have those balls bouncing all over the place, all night - the people downstairs must've really wondered what that was. When he would come out when we were up, he wouldn't pay a lot of attention to us; he was almost feral, but not in a scared-of-humans way - he just didn't need out constant companionship like Booger. He was kinda scrawny - definitely an alley cat. He had medium length hair, black and white. His chin was completely black, but his top jaw, nose, and face were white, so he looked like he was wearing a beard. And his eyes were seawater green, though he wouldn't really look you in the eye - he'd look at you though his white eyelashes. And he ginormous whiskers - they were sprouting out all over his head. One of my nicknames for him was Catfish. He wasn't a pretty cat, by any means, but he was interesting.
Then we moved to Georgia, and something happened while he and Booger were being boarded; he became friendly, and a little fat! We bought the cats and kid a house, and moved them in, and then let the cats outside; Ripley, once he got over being scared of outside, was in heaven! He'd go out to the woods, and would be gone for days. He'd come home all beat up, covered in cuts and scratches, and he'd lay around for a couple days, eating and recouping, and out he'd go again, to defend his territory. He came home once with a BB in his shoulder; it was just below the surface of his skin, half exposed, so we doctored him up as usual. We think the neighbor got him; when we moved in (I assume before he knew we had animals), he said to not be alarmed if we heard or saw him with a pellet gun - it's how he kept the cats out of the trash (as opposed to putting lids on it, I guess?). They left eventually, anyway, so whatever. Then Ripley's new little brother, Zeke (later to become known as FatAss) got hit by a car, and had a broken leg, that we had to borrow money from my dad to fix. Hard times being a cat in the wilds of the N. Georgia Mountains, with acres of woods to defend. And don't get me started on the asshole drivers...
Ripley was definitely the scrapper in the family; Booger, with no claws, would box you hard enough to make you see stars, but he wasn't much for fighting. Zeke was still kittenish when he became bionic, and then, since they fixed him while they were fixing his leg, he just got fat, and had a bad temper to go with the fat. Ripley ran his patrols, and stood watch from the porch. He spent the warm months (all but January & February) sleeping out in the mulch in the flower beds; he'd come inside to eat, or during the heat of the day if we were home, but he'd be back out as soon as someone would open the door. He'd stand on the porch, looking in the sidelights and watch us walk past the steps; we'd go open the door, but he wouldn't move - he'd just sit there, staring in. No idea what was going on in his head.
He was kidnapped once; we went on vacation one year, and had the kid across the street taking care of the animals. He could let Ripley in, out, whatever, and not to worry if he didn't see him; he'd come back as soon as he knew we were back, trotting down the street and driveway with a "It's about time!" look on his face. He'd come make sure we were okay, the food was secure, rest a day or two, then go back out on patrol (we'd every so often get a glimpse of him prowling through the woods out back - that white fur, when he wasn't muddy, would stand out well in the green). Well, this time, we came back, and a day went by, and we hadn't seen him. So we started calling for him - he must not've heard us come home. And we called and called. Finally, DH made up a sign on poster board and put it on the ladder out in front of the house. That night, as people were rolling in from work, we got a knock on the door; a guy was standing there, and he said he thought his wife had "rescued" our cat. We showed him a picture of the Brothers Chat - the three of them, eating tuna. He said he wasn't sure, but he'd go home and check. But they had picked up a cat they thought was stray, since he was dirty (as would you be, sleeping in flower beds). They took him to the vet, where he had shots and was fixed. And would we like the paperwork if it was him? Whatever you want to do, because we aren't paying you for kidnapping him, if it is him. So the guy left, and not 10 minutes later, Ripley came hauling ass up the driveway, making a b-line for the door! He came in and didn't leave for days! I know he heard us calling him the whole time he was wherever they were holding him (we have no idea who/where they were - just someone down the street somewhere); didn't the lady think it was odd, him getting all anxious? Yeah, thanks for fixing him (it was on our to-do list - in between getting 2-legged kids, of which we had 2 by this time, taken care of; money was very tight, and vets were/are ridiculously expensive), but please let him go and stop holding him hostage, eh?
After that, Ripley didn't go away for days; he'd go for the day or the night, but he never went far. He liked to run across the street and crap under Eddie's porch (good choice, in my opinion), and he'd run back home, and curl up in the mulch. He flattened all of my lilies every year - I guess they provided great shade. When they were done blooming, then he's go lay in the monkey grass along the driveway. He didn't like to be in much. And often, when he was in, he'd pee. He destroyed an area out in the dining room. We ripped up the carpet to put down laminate, and the wood underneath was destroyed, so we fixed that, too. He would not use a litter box any more - if we didn't let him out when he needed to be let out, he'd just do his thing - he didn't think anything about it, and would even do it if we were standing there watching him. He was a strange cat that way. That cat ruined a lot of things, which we are still having to replace as we can. There wasn't any point to new carpet or furniture until we didn't have animals to keep tearing it up, so we keep cleaning it the best we can, and hope it lasts as long as these animals.
The past couple of years, Ripley had really started to look bad. He ended up losing every tooth in his head; we took him to the vet, who gave us antibiotics to get the infected teeth cleared up, so he could pull them, at $35 each. We couldn't afford that, so we took care of what we could, and let nature do the rest. Once h is teeth were gone, he couldn't take care of his fur anymore; he wasn't very good at it to begin with, and always had mats on him that I'd get off, when he'd let me. But without teeth, he just didn't even try anymore, and he wouldn't let me near him with anything. We tried shaving him, but his skin was so loose, it was impossible. And under the white fur, his skin was white - almost impossible to tell what was skin, what was fur. We tried to keep him cleaned up, but it just got out of hand; he was really looking rough for awhile. Then all of that kind of fell off, and he was okay again for awhile. But this past fall, he really started to decline. He wouldn't do any grooming, and we couldn't touch him. He'd sleep for the whole day, then wake up, pee on something, eat, go back to sleep. And he wasn't going outside much anymore, either - wanted to stay inside and crawl onside a gym bag or something and sleep. So I got him a bed around Christmas - you'd think it was the best thing ever invented. It only took him a day to realize that it was his, and nobody else's, and that where he's spent the days since then.
A few weeks ago, we noticed he was sick; he had an open sore on his face, around his lower jaw. He smelled really bad. He wasn't moving around too well, so we knew he wasn't going to get over this like he had all the other wounds he'd received in the past. We put him down the other day. Our poor, strange cat, Ripley. I think he made the most of his 9 lives, and I hope he enjoyed his time with us. He didn't get the attention that Booger gets, but he didn't require as much as Booger does (lucky me). Ripley liked to play games with us - the looking-in-the-window trick, to see how many people/times we'd open the door for him, only to be ignored. He got in trouble a lot - he did fly out the front door more than a few times when he'd pee on my floor. But then he'd just look at you with those seawater eyes, and he'd head butt you if you'd let him, and he was so thankful for any attention we'd give him. God, he was a weird cat. I mean, all cats are weird, but this one was above and beyond. We'll miss you, Ripley - I hope you have no pain where you are now, and I hope you know we did the best we could.