Steve the cat thinks he’s lamb – but not just any lamb.

“He’s sort of almost like their leader,” Steve’s owner Amanda Whitlock says.

“He’ll just be walking around the yard and they’ll be following him. Or he’ll be playing in the bushes and they’ll be inquisitive, looking to see what he’s doing and following him through the bushes.”

Steve now spends most of the day outside with his new farmyard friends and has become inseparable from them

Steve lives with Amanda and her partner Ben at Ngamatapouri, about 50km inland from Waitotara in South Taranaki.

It was a lonely life for Steve until the 8-month-old was introduced to lambs Ben and Amanda brought in from the cold.

The cat and lambs play together in the garden and are seen chewing on plants and branches

“They stay inside for about three nights or so just to keep warm. And Steve was obviously an indoor cat prior to getting all these lamb friends,” Whitlock says.

“He’d just sort of get used to them and spend time with them inside and then the lambs move outside and we started noticing Steve wasn’t inside any more and we’re like ‘where’s Steve?’

 Friends: The tabby cat has become the lambs' 'leader' and they follow him around the garden

“So we’d have a look out the window and he was just out there interacting with them.”

Steve’s became something of a local celebrity after the Wanganui Chronicle published his picture snapped by Amanda.

“I was in the kitchen and I just happened to look out the window and saw them all sitting where they normally sit by the door under a bit of shelter and Steve was with them. I grabbed the camera and snuck around outside and got a couple of photos with them.

“It’s gone pretty viral on the internet. It made the front page of the Wanganui Chronicle and shared hundreds of times since then and 1000s of likes.”

But there’s no chance all the attention will go to Steve’s head.

Eight-month-old Steve started life as a lonely indoor cat, spending his time prowling around his owner Amanda Whitlock's home. She is pictured with a piglet

When the milk bottles come out the lambs turn their attention to more important things – and Steve takes a back seat.