He was not my first cat. That was Puddy, who was several years older than Biggles, but outlived him by 3 months.
Biggles was the kitten of a pregnant stray I took in for my mother. She was adopted by a neighbour, who called her Glenda, and had four sweeties under his bed. My then husband and I adopted Biggles, named after a fictional flying ace. He was born on 11th August 1976.
He was a little so-and-so from the start, constantly tormenting Puddy, who never became accustomed to him. He was also incredibly affectionate.
He developed kidney disease in his early teens, and was successfully treated with steroids. But these were not as effective as present-day treatments, and 18 months on, at the age of only 14-and-a-half, I had to have him put to sleep.
Biggles was wonderful, and losing him broke my heart. Shortly after losing him, and before Puddy died, I took on Shelley (who died in 2010 aged 19 years 5 months) and his brother Byron (who dies aged 5 after an unknown accident). Since Puddy's death I have always had at least 2 cats, and aside from the original 4, I still have them all, two aged 18, two nearly 16, one almost 15 and a nearly-14-year-old.
They really are like a family to me.