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Cat of the Day
Today's Cat of the Day
Leo the British Domestic Shorthair
Name: Leo
Age: Nineteen years old
Gender: Male
Kind: British Domestic Shorthair
Home: Cheshire, United Kingdom
   Leo's story begins 20 years ago when our beloved cat, Tom, died. My parents buried his body in the garden. When they returned to the house, four hungry cats followed them.

     We later discovered that the cats belonged to a neighbour who didn't want them. They were obviously hungry and we still had cat food in the house, which it seemed a shame to waste so my Mum fed them. There were two mother cats and two kittens. One of the mother cats was unapproachable, but the other three were very friendly. We didn't intend to have another cat, but the two kittens made their home with us, though still officially belonging to the neighbour. We called them Ginger and Josephine.

     It soon became obvious that the friendly mother cat, whom we'd named Queenie, was going to have more kittens. My Mum asked the neighbour's permission to call the local Cats' Protection charity. It was decided that Ginger and Josephine would be sterilised then come and live with us and Queenie would return to the neighbour's to have her kittens and then be spayed. The kittens would be rehomed by the charity.

     When the time came, the neighbour said she didn't want Queenie back, but wanted to keep one kitten for a friend. We were in love with Queenie by then, and my Mum said she could live with us.

     We thought no more of the kitten, until the day he came looking for his mother In retrospect, I think she'd been visiting him next door, as she was still feeding him. It seemed a pity to separate mother and baby, so we allowed him in, where he would sit under the table with Queenie. He was a very placid, cuddly kitten, not at all destructive. A friend, with psychic abilities, pronounced him to have a placid soul.

     Weeks passed, and every day I expected his new owner to knock on the door and demand him. I started to dread her appearance, but assumed she was on holiday and had asked her friend to keep the kitten until she returned. One day I saw the neighbour in the street who said "What's the phone number of the cat charity? My friend has changed her mind about the kitten and I want to get rid of him.

     I quickly said, "I'll take him. You don't need the number."

     My first priority was to find a name for my latest cat, whom I'd been calling "Baby." As I already had a cat called Ginger, so I considered "Tiger," but a less tiger-like kitten was hard to imagine. Being a Trek fan, I thought about "Spock" as his ears seemed very large, but as the kitten grew, the ears appeared smaller. One night, he rolled over; I noticed his underside had a spotted pattern like a leopard, while his fur was a tawny lion hue. "Leo" seemed the ideal name, a short name for a little cat.

     Leo remained a small cat and his fur never lost its kitten softness, but as he grew older, he developed a decidedly bossy streak. His mother was rather a humble sort of cat, so he certainly didn't inherit the trait from her. Leo and I developed a close bond and he was a great comfort to me when my Mum died.

     Leo was quite a hunter in his younger days, and always bringing me unwanted live gifts. He never got on with Josephine, but remained close to Queenie for the rest of her life.

     Leo has used up most of his nine lives. One Christmas, he was struck down by a mysterious illness that baffled the vet, but he bounced back with antibiotics. Then about 4 years ago, he went off his food. A dental abscess was diagnosed and Leo needed several teeth removing. I feared I'd lose him, but he quickly recovered.

     Queenie disappeared about four years ago. She was at least 17, maybe older. Then Josephine died of cancer, so only Leo and Ginger were left, my ginger boys. Then Ginger died and I thought I was going to lose Leo too as he refused to eat and howled piteously.

     I had thought of getting a kitten, but the matter became urgent. Luckily, I found Harry, a very special kitten, and although not best friends, Harry cured Leo of his depression and he started eating again.

     When Harry was six months old, Leo started falling over and could not walk. Then I could not find him. Harry found him for me under the sideboard. I got him out and rushed him to the vet certain they would say it was time to say goodbye.

     A very kind lady vet was unable to tell me what was wrong but suggested trying pain relief before making any decisions. Within a few days, Leo was his old self again.

     Leo is now nineteen years old and very frail. He is now an indoor cat on the vet's recommendation, though I sometimes take him to enjoy the sun in my enclosed yard. Most of the time, he sleeps on my bed.

     Despite his advanced years, Leo is as bossy as ever. He still loves his food and I still have to be careful he doesn't steal from my plate. He gets very excited if I have something he enjoys like fish. He loves to lie against my arm and purr.

     What Leo wants, Leo gets. I love my venerable old gentleman and treasure every day we still have together.

Leo the British Domestic Shorthair Leo the British Domestic Shorthair Leo the British Domestic Shorthair

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