Most of you looking through this website and seeing the heading of this story will, during your ownership of your cats, no doubt have noticed strange peculiarities within your own cats.. Barry and I own 8 Somalis, 7 of whom are all descendants of Sorcha, our foundation queen, but they all have very different personalities. However, between them they have some strange peculiarities which I thought I would share with you.

Some are fairly mild and reasonably understandable. For instance Roscoe’s fixation with our corn snake. He spends absolutely hours sitting on the arm of the chair next to the vivarium, absolutely rigid, never moving a muscle, just staring and then he gets so excited when the snake comes out and goes on the prowl, he’s nearly dancing! "That’s not unusual", I’m sure you’re all thinking, "any cat would do that to any animal they saw as a "prey" animal", but to me it’s indicative of how obsessive cats and Somalis can become about something. His other "fetish" is knotted plastic carrier bags – he will retrieve forever and if we get sick of throwing them, then he just throws them in the air and chases them himself!

Now, let us move onto the more unusual neuroses. Sorcha’s is peppermint! I know lots of cats like the scent of mint, but Sorcha goes beyond "like" and I think is verging on obsessive! Not long after we brought her home as a kitten, I was sitting on the settee sucking a peppermint when she jumped onto my lap and I spoke to her. When she got the whiff of peppermint on my breath she just went wild, trying to force her head into my mouth, using her feet to try to get my mouth open, squinting at me all the while because the peppermint was so strong it was probably stinging her eyes. Since that day she has always been obsessed with the smell of mint and has passed that obsession down to almost all her progeny. So much so that in this house we daren’t speak closely to a cat after we have even brushed our teeth, without the possibility of ending up with a cat swinging from our bottom lip. All our kittens go with a "health" warning – the health of their new owners if they use peppermint toothpaste!

Krystal, our latest kitten and one of the wildest just adores socks! From being a very small kitten she has stolen numerous numbers of socks. Whenever I started to pair up clean socks to put away after washing, there were always odd ones, whose partner was found hidden in corners, beds, behind chairs, in the garden etc. I thought at first this was just a "baby" thing, but it isn’t and it’s getting worse. The drawers where I keep my socks are inside the wardrobe and don’t have handles – they have open slits at the top to put fingers in to pull out the drawers. If the wardrobe door is left slightly open, she’s in like a shot, puts her paws through the gap and pulls out the socks, as many as she can - one is never enough! We spend our lives constantly finding socks hidden everywhere. Even today, a sunny August day, we were sitting by the pond having our morning coffee when she came flying out the back door prancing like a deer with excitement, carrying a sock in her mouth, like a trophy! Two hours later, she was still going wild with the same sock! Borderline obsession I think!

Now, let’s move onto Purrdy, another Kisha kitten. Purrdy’s obsession is with soft gelatine capsules. I take various vitamin tablets each morning, one of which is an Evening Primrose Oil Capsule, all of which I mix into one single tub. One day I dropped an oil capsule and Purrdy picked it up and from that day onwards she has been obsessed! And now we are bordering on almost manic behaviour. Every morning when I come downstairs she shadows me until I go to the kitchen bench beside the cupboard where the vitamins are kept and from then on she is talking to me and crying for me to get them out. Once I have the tub in my hand she is almost dancing with excitement. When I open it she leaps at me to get into the tub – if I walk away to the other side of the kitchen she leaps off the bench and onto the nearest bench to get near me – she would follow me absolutely anywhere as long as I have that vitamin tub in my hand! If I put the tub down, she will put her paw into it to try to get a capsule out. Occasionally as a special treat, I give her one to play with and she is ecstatic. Because the gelatine capsules are soft, she can pick them up in her paws and mouth and carry them around. Woe betide any other cat which comes within 5 feet of her when she has a capsule! The growling is intense – nobody, but nobody gets to share this treasure! Nothing else will placate her, no other toy or type of tablet will suffice, only the soft gelatine, oil carrying capsules will do the trick. She is not interested in me going into that cupboard at any other time of day, only first thing in the morning, because she knows what’s in there and she’s desperate! . She has been like this since she was about 6 months old – she’s now not far off 3 and it has never abated. If she is ever missing and not to be found, we just rattle that tub of vitamins and she comes flying into the kitchen like a cat obsessed.

So next we come to Harry! Harry’s infatuation is water. Now that won’t surprise many of you because all Somalis share a love of water. I bet most of you have a Somali who just loves playing with running taps, bath water etc, but how many of you have a Somali who chases a hosepipe? Harry follows me into the garden every evening during the summer months and as soon as I pick up the hosepipe, he rushes onto the top level of the garden where we have the lawn and lies in wait, like a crouched, hunting lion, with wild eyes. Harry’s eyes are big at the best of times, but when he’s waiting for the hosepipe, they are enormous. I turn the hose on and put the pressure to full blast and he just goes wild. As I sweep the jet of water across the lawn he chases it wildly, slapping his feet into the full blast of water until his legs are soaking. Occasionally he runs into the full power of the water jet in his excitement, but it doesn’t put him off. He ends up doing a reasonable impersonation of an otter by the time he’s finished! We keep a water pistol beside Barry’s chair as a deterrent for any cat doing anything it shouldn’t (mainly in our living room it’s a cat creeping up on poor Kisha to bully her) and he’s equally as obsessed with that. When any cat does something naughty and Barry picks up the water pistol every one of them panics and shoots out the room, except Harry, who rushes forward until his nose is about 2 inches from the barrel of the pistol and he just waits for Barry to squirt it. Even if he squirts it into Harry’s face, he’s ecstatic!

Finally, we come to Jago. Now Jago is another Kisha kitten and he went to live in the far north of Scotland with Roscoe’s sister, Tamsin and Scarlett, one of Leyla’s kittens. Marian agrees with us that Somalis are acquisitive and once she had bought Scarlett, she added another 3 Somalis to her household. Jago is the youngest and the following is an excerpt from an e-mail she sent me in the early spring.

"Just a quick note to tell you about Jago's latest behaviour. Over the last two weeks he has become obsessed with shadows, and I mean obsessed! He is insisting on chasing the shadow of everything that moves, but not the item itself. This means that he is constantly tripping me up as he chases my shadow wherever I go. I have to be sure to get him into the house before the lights go on in the evening, otherwise he messes me about for hours. He sits on the window-sill wanting in, but as soon as I open the door the light throws my shadow outside and he chases it! One evening about a week ago, I had to turn off every light in the house and then grope my way to the front door in total darkness, as this was the only way to get him to come in. This can surely not be classed as normal behaviour, even for a Somali! He never used to do this before - is he losing his grip on reality? So, what do you think?"

Well, I just think Somalis are wonderful – they have such a love of life that they can easily develop a fetish or an obsession and it usually is something which is highly amusing to their owner – maybe it’s just because they are natural clowns.


Eileen Welsh