Politicians and their pets: Maggie Chapman
Breed? Ginger shorthair
Age? About 12 years, I think
How long have you had him? Well, now, Antonio is not actually our cat (but he lives with us!) He belongs to our upstairs neighbours, but they have got an Alsatian and Antonio was not amused. When we had cats before, Antonio would come visiting, would ‘share’ our cats’ food, and sleep wherever he pleased. When our last two died in early 2019, he moved himself in.
Where did you get him? Our upstairs neighbour… we didn’t get him, he found us!
What do you love about him? He’s a very affectionate creature (always on his terms) and is a great hot water bottle! He has cute little freckles on his lips, eyelids and ears (yes, we keep an eye on them). He is well known along the street, and occupies parked car roofs in the sunshine, so that passers-by can give him the adoration he clearly deserves.
What special talents does he have? Antonio is a great alarm clock, for those who want to wake up at 4am. He’s a good mouser too, although we like our mice alive, so try to distract him before he pounces.
What are his most annoying habits? Apart from the 4am alarm calls, Antonio is fond of swallowing his food too quickly and then vomiting it back up almost immediately. He then, of course, wants fresh food put down for him.
What’s the worst thing he’s done? Our neighbours probably think moving out is pretty bad.
Do you think of yourself as a pet parent or pet owner? Slave is more appropriate, I think.
What’s the most ridiculous thing you have bought or done for your pet? I do get up at 4am to cook chicken for him (and did this for previous cats too… and I’m vegan!)
What’s your first pet or animal-related memory? It’s not the first pet-related memory, but I did get a cat instead of a pair of jeans once… the SPCA knew a soft target when they saw one, and followed us into a clothes shop with a kitten that needed a home… Sophie found her home!
What was the first pet you ever had? Shaka, a rather loveable mongrel (collie, lab, all sorts), and Vasco da Gama (I called him TomTat), a grey short hair kitty. They were just part of the family, along with Tabby (my sister’s tabby cat) and two other dogs (both mongrels, with various quantities of Ridgeback, Labrador, Doberman and who knows what). Growing up in Zimbabwe, we always had lots of animals about the place – we collected all the waifs and strays going. We had six dogs, nine cats and lots of rabbits at one point.
What would be your dream pet? All of them!
If you could be any animal what would you be? I never know how to answer this question… it always depends on context, circumstance and mood.