Leo is our neutered rescue cat brought over from South Africa. To describe him I would say he is a combination of the lion in the Wizard of Oz and Jonesy in Dad’s Army – don’t panic, don’t panic. He definitely needs a dose of bravery and even the vet in Johannesburg called him a Dorothy. Big and little things alike seriously upset his karma and he exudes a lack of confidence which merely works against him. Even the guinea fowl and the turkeys have sensed this and there have been terrible scenes in which Leo comes flying in through the dog flap (known in our house as the numpty portal), eyes wide and tail bushed out, with a posse of noisy birds in hot pursuit. I actually think they seem to chase him just for the shear amusement of watching the reaction. As for hunting, Leo’s only achievement in his 9 years of life has been an earthworm, which he brought into the house and lost interest in immediately, which resulted in it drying up under the dining room table before I discovered it.
The major issue is that Leo has a very odd relationship with food. He actually doesn’t know what it is. Put any range of tasty morsels like chicken breast, flaked salmon, fillet steak etc in front of him and he merely sits there looking vaguely offended and confused. He only eats dry cat pellets and only one flavour (fish) from one supplier. But he does this with alacrity at least twenty times a day and purring loudly in the process. This of course means that the bowl has to be constantly replenished and if for whatever reason I forget to do this – immediately – twenty times a day – Leo will witter and perform, dashing and darting under my feet in a manner guaranteed to cause a frightful accident and someone to nearly break their neck. Recently, during his many visits to his cat peanut bowl at two in the morning, I noticed he had started talking to his food. “That cat seriously needs counselling”, I remember thinking, but being snugly tucked up in bed, I didn’t go and investigate. Well, the nocturnal cat/food muttering went on night after night until eventually I decided to present myself at his side. What a shock! There was Leo sitting in front of his bowl which had been invaded by giant orange slugs of indescribable disgustingness. These things were so huge I could actually hear them crunching and scraping at the cat’s peanuts. And not only were they in his bowl, there was a whole load of them having what appeared to be a party on the work surface. Right, what to do about the slugs? I recall reading that one fool proof way of catching garden snails is to leave out a bowl of beer. The story goes that they find the smell of lager irresistible and climb in only to drown – very happily. So there I am in the early hours of the morning, in my bare feet, pouring the giant slugs a Bittberger but wondering if they would prefer an Amstel. We do say that at Primrose Farm the inmates run the asylum but I formally offer Leo an apology. He is not barking mad talking to his food. He was telling these revolting pushy things to get out of his beloved cat peanuts. The beer lark failed miserably so the next night I exacted my revenge and went into the utility room armed with the salt cellar. No more slugs. Odd though, Leo still talks to his food….