Jean-Claude was bottle raised by a kind french couple in 2002, they couldn't keep him and so looked for someone who could care for him and find him a home.  He joined the crew here in May of 2002, at 8 weeks old.
From the start he was a little bundle of love, wanting to nurse on mom's nose every night.  She finally got him to not suck, but he still washes her face before she goes to sleep, mostly concentrating on her nose.  Every now and then something will wake her in the middle of the night, and she find sa little black muzzle slurping on the tip of her nose.  Fortunatly he does not leave any hickies!  When her eyes open, he stops and changes to licking.
Being a black cat, not many people were interested in adopting him no matter how sweet he was.  But we thought, he is healthy and friendly surely someone will want him!
Then along came a spider...
In mid December of 2002 mom came home from work and saw Jean-Claude lying on the floor.  She walked by, thinking it was an odd place to sleep.  When she came by again she noticed he had not moved.  She picked him up and he was HOT.  It was, of course, a Friday evening.  She put him in a carrier and rushed him to the emergency vet.
He was running a high fever, high enough to potentially cause brain damage, and he was swelling.  Xrays showed no sign of trauma, shaving him revealed a tiny hole in his groin.  The vets said this was the work of a spider, probably a black widow.  Since we do have a woodstove we often have wood in the house, the spider probably came from there.
Jean-Claude continued to swell for three days, mom began to despair and wondered if he needed to be put down.  His fever remained high.  The vets said he would get better, but it would take time.  He swelled so much from the waist down that his skin split in several places, in his groin and the base of his tail.  He remained in ICU for a week.  Mom cancelled her Xmas plans, she had to stay home and care for Jean-Claude. 
The split in his crotch healed, but not his tail.  Tails often do not heal well.  The vets were coating the wound with sugar, which dries it and kills infection, and wrapping his tail in guaze.  They showed mom how to do this.  It was very stressful for Jean-Claude. This normally calm, easygoing, can do anything to him kitty screamed and flailed, his heart racing and his eyes huge.  He panted and drooled.  After the wrap was finished he calmed down again, but it did not seem worth the stress to him.  Since the tail continued to deteriorate mom took him to the vet and said "amputate the tail, the stump will heal quickly and he will be much happier."
And so he became our little Nubby Butt.

He healed quickly and again became the snuggly, loving boy we adored.  Having put so much time, and about $1500, into him we decided to keep him. 
He loves kittens and always helps when we have them.  One trio he even let "nurse" on him!  Sadly we do not have pictures.  When Mimosa came along he snuggled with her, too, despite her grumbling.  He still remains friends with her and will groom her.
Here he is helping out with assorted kittens and cats.
        JC and Mimosa                                                                                              JC,  Ghiradelli (being washed) and Godiva
            JC and Dr Pepper                                                                                   JC, Rick (middle) and Woody (right)
But his troubles did not stop there...
A year later he started coughing and wheezing, a deep chest cough that sounded painful.  Xrays showed his lungs were enlarged from asthma.  He started on Prednisone and Theophylline which seemed to resolve the problem.  He had periodic upper respiratory infections which cleared up with various antibiotics.  Other than that, life seemed good for him.
In the mid 2005, however, things began to get rough again.  Not only did his asthma recurr, but we noticed that he was loosing weight.  Watching him eat, we heard him cry as he ate some dry food.  We had spent most of 2004 battling Stomatitis with Bendy, who eventually had to have all his teeth removed except his fangs.  We picked up JC and looked in his mouth.  He cried when we opened it, and we didn't have to look hard to see what we feared.  The inside of his mouth was covered in ulcers.
We decided to skip all the medical treatments and just have his teeth removed.  We did not want months of him suffering while we tried to see if his mouth would heal up on various medications.  Going that route once was enough to convince us we did not wish to do it again.  He had his teeth removed in two surgeries, and one followup to pull some root pieces which surfaced later.  After another round of antibiotics his mouth finally healed and he was back to himself.
Then he started to cough again. 
This time the cough was more persistant, resistant to the treatments which had worked before. Several times he coughed up large puddles of phlegm.  Finally several weeks of high dose Baytril cleared him.   But after a week it came back.  we thought that ther had to be something behind this, some underlying cause making him prone to infections.  Maybe it was just bad asthma, but we wanted to be sure.  He had another xray taken which did show the infection in the lungs.  But it also showed something else, heartworm.
Heartworm in cats is very rare and treatment is difficult.  Prednisone is used to control the inflamation and heartguard is given monthly to slowly kill the worm.  His heartworm tests came back with mixed results.  He was positive for the antibodies, but negative for the antigens.  The vet explained that this could mean several things.  It could be that he had had worms, and had fought them off but still had the antibodies or that he had only male worms.  An ultrasound might let us see if any worms were there, but the treatment would be the same.  Several kind people donated funds to cover all his testing and another kind person donated a 6 month supply of Heartguard and prednisone for him. 
So far, he is doing well, hopefully he will continue to do so.