Country mouse on unusual animal sightings

Cow Cat is a regular on the London street between the Country Life offices and Waterloo station. So ubiquitous is the presence of this corpulent black-and-white moggy that she has her own Facebook group (The Fat Cat of Southwark Appreciation Society).

No one messes with Cow Cat. Last week, I watched as an urban fox unwisely approached her for an insolent sniff before retreating in the face of intense hissing and a flailing paw. The vexed vulpine trotted off among the commuters, looking for simpler prey.

At the other end of London, creatures of a different kind have also got bigger over the years. Terrapins in the lakes at the Duke of Northumberland’s Syon Park have grown in size and number since the late 1980s. Then, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were at the height of their fame, and encouraged impulse buys of the real thing. Left to their own devices, they have thrived at what is dubbed London’s only country house. They will be enjoyed by guests of the Waldorf Astoria, which opens this month.

Residents will have access to the 200 acres of grounds, plus exotic butter-flies in a special house in the lobby. Chef Lee Streeton has installed a kitchen garden. He may need Cow Cat to see off the rabbits.