Leo the farm cat

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To support the Island Community Haven, and our life-changing work for animals and local community you can make a donation today.

Our friendly feline Leo is unlike most cats. He is the biggest fan of affection, cuddles, belly rubs and ear tickles. To some extent, Leo is cat-like, he can be independent and he’s a good mouser, he also loves exploring the boundaries of the farm for pests. But on the other hand, when he wanders half-way up the field, he is often distracted by the site of a beloved human going about their firmly duties. Leo then relinquishes all of his cat-like independence, insisting that you carry him the rest of the way up to the courtyard. You’ll always find Leo by the side of his beloved humans, much like the way in which a loyal dog patiently awaits some fuss – he will even stand out with you in the rain until it’s time for a snuggle. He certainly defies the common saying ‘a dog is man’s best friend’, giving any loving canine a run for their money (or biscuits).

‘Just like humans are left or right-handed, cats also have a dominant paw’ – this might explain why Leo always swipes at the right pouch of meat produced before him when he is fondly asked ‘Which one do you want? Beef or salmon?’

A Cat’s Tale…

Leo (aka Leonard when he’s naughtily demanding food) has been with us since he was a kitten. Back in 2013, he and his brother Jack Sprat were gifted to us by a member of the local community. Playful, bouncy kittens went to live with director Alison and her family, until it was time for them to come to the farm. Whilst the boys lived with Ali, Stu and their Labrador Fog, they would do everything within their power to trick him – mischievously taking it in turns to bat Fog’s tail or nose from the safety of underneath the sofa.

Once Leo and Sprat were big enough and had all of their vaccinations, they came to live at The Island Project: Farming and Education Centre and were lovingly raised by all of the staff and young people at the provision. Unfortunately, Sprat was spooked during a fundraising event at the farm in 2014. After weeks of looking, Sprat had decided that the farm was too busy for him and left home. Despite this, he comes back to visit us from time-to-time but has decided that the life of a wild Tom is for him. We always provide him with food, but he isn’t so keen on being approached – the glow of his distinct green eyes, gratefully accepting our offerings from a distance.

Leo has joyfully stayed at the farm, living amongst our small animals. He loves his rabbit friends and can somehow distinguish between them and wild rabbits, rats and mice, often dropping deceased rodents at the feet of his humans as a token of love. Leo is often dubbed ‘King of the Farm’ by young people, as his gracefully strides across the courtyard, collecting attention and fuss as he goes. For a time, Leo permitted the presence of another cat within his kingdom – Jess, the tortoiseshell tabby who reigned alongside Leo for 6 years before we lost her to old age, in the summer of 2020. Jess was an emaciated stray cat who stumbled across the farm in 2014 and decided to make it her forever home. For a long time, it appeared that Leo and Jess merely tolerated one another, but it soon became apparent that their bond was reflective of a “I-love-you-but-you’re-so-annoying-you-always-try-to-steal-my-food” relationship commonly shared between siblings (and yes, it was always Leo trying to steal Jessie’s food). Although Leo misses Jess (as do we all), he has many, many friends at the farm and enough love to share with all of them. He truly is King of the Farm.

Our friendly feline Leo is unlike most cats. He is the biggest fan of affection, cuddles, belly rubs and ear tickles. To some extent, Leo is cat-like, he can be independent and he’s a good mouser, he also loves exploring the boundaries of the farm for pests. But on the other hand, when he wanders half-way up the field, he is often distracted by the site of a beloved human going about their firmly duties. Leo then relinquishes all of his cat-like independence, insisting that you carry him the rest of the way up to the courtyard. You’ll always find Leo by the side of his beloved humans, much like the way in which a loyal dog patiently awaits some fuss – he will even stand out with you in the rain until it’s time for a snuggle. He certainly defies the common saying ‘a dog is man’s best friend’, giving any loving canine a run for their money (or biscuits).

‘Just like humans are left or right-handed, cats also have a dominant paw’ – this might explain why Leo always swipes at the right pouch of meat produced before him when he is fondly asked ‘Which one do you want? Beef or salmon?’

Leo the cat exploring the farm

Leo (aka Leonard when he’s naughtily demanding food) has been with us since he was a kitten. Back in 2013, he and his brother Jack Sprat were gifted to us by a member of the local community. Playful, bouncy kittens went to live with director Alison and her family, until it was time for them to come to the farm. Whilst the boys lived with Ali, Stu and their Labrador Fog, they would do everything within their power to trick him – mischievously taking it in turns to bat Fog’s tail or nose from the safety of underneath the sofa.

Once Leo and Sprat were big enough and had all of their vaccinations, they came to live at The Island Project: Farming and Education Centre and were lovingly raised by all of the staff and young people at the provision. Unfortunately, Sprat was spooked during a fundraising event at the farm in 2014. After weeks of looking, Sprat had decided that the farm was too busy for him and left home. Despite this, he comes back to visit us from time-to-time but has decided that the life of a wild Tom is for him. We always provide him with food, but he isn’t so keen on being approached – the glow of his distinct green eyes, gratefully accepting our offerings from a distance.

Leo has joyfully stayed at the farm, living amongst our small animals. He loves his rabbit friends and can somehow distinguish between them and wild rabbits, rats and mice, often dropping deceased rodents at the feet of his humans as a token of love. Leo is often dubbed ‘King of the Farm’ by young people, as his gracefully strides across the courtyard, collecting attention and fuss as he goes. For a time, Leo permitted the presence of another cat within his kingdom – Jess, the tortoiseshell tabby who reigned alongside Leo for 6 years before we lost her to old age, in the summer of 2020. Jess was an emaciated stray cat who stumbled across the farm in 2014 and decided to make it her forever home. For a long time, it appeared that Leo and Jess merely tolerated one another, but it soon became apparent that their bond was reflective of a “I-love-you-but-you’re-so-annoying-you-always-try-to-steal-my-food” relationship commonly shared between siblings (and yes, it was always Leo trying to steal Jessie’s food). Although Leo misses Jess (as do we all), he has many, many friends at the farm and enough love to share with all of them. He truly is King of the Farm.

Leo in action

Video Credit:

The Island Project is an alternative education facility which is based on The Island Community Haven Farm. At the provision, many hard to reach young people learn to manage their social, emotional and mental health by participating in animal-assisted learning, many other outdoor learning activities, alongside AimVoc qualifications.

This video has been created alongside the young people who attend The Haven and who care for and love all of our animals.

Cat Welfare Considerations

Cats have similar pain thresholds as people. They are vulnerable to a range of infectious diseases or illnesses. Try to check your cat for signs of injury or illness daily and provide a vet health check at least annually.

You need to protect your cat’s health. Cats should be vaccinated, have regular parasite treatment for fleas and worms, be microchipped and it is recommended by the RSPCA that you should your cat spayed or neutered. For males like Leo, this can protect him against injuries and catching nasty diseases from fighting over mates. It can also stop your cat spraying in the house. And it is equally important for female felines and is recommended that they are spayed before reaching 4-months-old. There are lots of cats that need homes in this country, so it is important that you not only protect your cat, but also help to reduce and control the number of unwanted and homeless pets.

The condition of your cat’s coat is a good indication of their overall health and nutrition.Cats are designed to be good self-groomers; they are extremely flexible to permit grooming of hard-to-reach places and their tongues are covered with spines allowing them to remove loose hair, dirt and parasites. Grooming stimulates the skin to produce oils which assists with waterproofing, prevents matting and gives a healthy shine to the coat. Regular grooming has many benefits for both humans and cats – helping to reduce stress for both parties!

Donate and Support

To support the Island Community Haven, and our life-changing work for animals and local community you can make a donation today.

When rehoming an animal, there is a lot to consider; including staff expertise and further training requirements, accommodation and space, equipment costs, and dietary requirements, just to name a few!

The biggest and most effective way to support The Island Community Haven is through adopting an animal. Your adoption and support will allow us to continue to care for animals who are in need of a second chance. There are many individual perks to adopting an animal which are detailed below; but many of these rewards spread much further into the wider community.

Rescue and rehomed animals will now have the opportunity to live a free-range lifestyle, to help young people manage their mental health and to feel love and care, which they themselves perhaps have not experienced before.  None of this would be possible without the animal adoring communities of Draycott, Borrowash, Risley and beyond.

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