A visit to American chat show The Tonight Show paid dividends for animal lover Simon Cowell on Monday night (17JAN05) - he walked away with a new rat and a pet cat.

The American Idol judge confessed to host Jay Leno he was fond of rodents and wanted one as a pet, prompting the comedian to present him with a white rat.

Cowell said, "Rats are like mice with bad PR. They're big mice, and they're actually very friendly and you can walk around with rat on your shoulder... They're just misunderstood animals."

Cowell loved his new pet, adding, "Let's call him PAULA," in reference to fellow American Idol judge Paula Abdul.

And the sharp-tongued music boss is also planning to open up his home to a ginger cat after Leno showed him an adoption advert in US newspaper THE OREGONIAN.

The cat, named Simon Cowell, has been put up for adoption by its owner because it keeps swatting anyone or anything that comes near him.

19/01/2005 09:18