Meet Pepi the cat… He is very special, and not just because he’s so handsome!

He came into our lives in late summer, a couple of months after the sudden (and devastating) loss of one of our beloved dogs, Hamish, to a terrible disease.

It happened like this. We feed – fed – the local birds on our patio, and one day I realised that the shadow beneath the patio table was darker than usual. Inky black, in fact.

As I watched, at the speed of light the shadow detached itself and neatly made a meal of one of the sparrows. I opened the patio door to try to help the poor little thing, but the cat (for such it was) ran off.

Over the next few days we played a game that he always won. I’d remove his hiding places, and he would find a new one. The birds, seemingly unaware of the brooding black presence, kept being eaten. I even tried to make the patio cat-proof (no chance!).

To cut a long story short, in defence of the birds I started feeding him. (I also moved the bird feeding station down into the garden, close to some bushes where they have more natural protection). Mark decided the cat’s name was Pepi, after an Egyptian pharaoh. Pepi decided to stay.

We hadn’t intended to get a cat… We had cats and dogs for years, living happily together, but our last cat passed away at the venerable age of 17 before we got our two setters. Cats just seemed to come into our lives – waifs and strays mainly, which people from the nearby town would dump in the village, thinking that tiny kittens would be fine somewhere rural. (This, by the way, is not true. All pets need proper care).

As Hamish and Lexie had not been brought up with cats, they chased them, and we’d never had many in the garden as a result. But when Hamish died, Lexie – who is blind – could no longer help with the cat patrol, so I guess Pepi saw an opening for a stray. But how to care for our new arrival, who clearly doesn’t care much for humans?

Food has been the answer so far. He clearly appreciates having his grub presented in a bowl rather than having to catch it. I have to say, we’re not yet sure whether he’s a he or a she because we can’t get close enough to see… He comes running when he hears the little gate open as I go to put his food down, and stands back politely, a couple of feet away. Just far enough. If I try to get closer, he backs off, and he won’t feed until I’m safely back inside with the door locked.

This is a photo of him trying the new Purina Pro Plan wet food – Purina have kindly sent me some samples to try. When I realised it was fish, my heart sank because Pepi’s never been fond of fish – I guess because there aren’t many running round the local gardens or farm barns. I had to give a whole pack of a well-known brand of fish-flavoured cat food to our neighbour (to her delight), so I feared the worst.

However, about ten seconds after the photo was taken, the plate was licked clean. Success! Pepi has finally been introduced to fish!