After years in the wild, stray cat Dexter's now lapping up luxury
Lost and hungry for three years, a stray cat named Dexter has been adopted after capturing the hearts of staff at an Armagh nursing home.
Last week the malnourished, frightened and heavily matted cat was spotted outside Apple Blossom Lodge Care Home in Co Armagh.
Kindly staff coaxed him out of hiding with food and took him to the vet for a health check. Having been chipped, his previous owner from Dungannon was contacted.
Hours away from collecting him, however, he decided he could no longer afford to keep Dexter, as he had another cat to care for.
Waiting in the wings was Elaine Donald (46), a senior care assistant at Apple Blossom, who had already offered to adopt him.
"We just got word on Friday afternoon the previous owner didn't want him. My son and daughter pulled at my heartstrings and made me go on Saturday morning to have a look at him," she said.
"So now he's ended up living with me in the lap of luxury. I have to say he's an absolute beauty of a cat, he's really affectionate. We're under strict instructions to not allow him out at all, but he's very contented."
She continued: "Last week the staff heard him crying outside all the time, so I thought I'd be up all night caring for him. But he's been so good, sitting in his bed."
With no other pets of her own, Ms Donald said it was pester power that made her certain that Dexter had found a permanent home. "My son has been asking for a cat for years, so when I told him the story he said I'd better not come home without him," she said. "So with the pressure of my two kids, I actually went down to the vets with a pet carrier ready to go. I just knew there was no way I could leave him sitting in the cage, so he's home with me.
"He's a celebrity everywhere now, not just the nursing home. They've named me cat woman now too. But at least it's a nice ending to the story."
Regarding the previous owner, she said she was glad they had been honest rather than taking a cat they were unable to care for.
Having been in need of some TLC when he first appeared, Dexter is yet to meet the nursing home residents.
"Apple Blossom is a very friendly home. We have chickens, ducks, cats, potbellied pigs and goats," she said. "But Dexter was very nervous and afraid at first, so I didn't want to take the risk of bringing him in to meet the residents. He was the worse for wear, being a long-haired cat. But now we've been brushing him and he's absolutely loving life. I've met many a cat over the years and I've never seen one as friendly as Dexter."
Having travelled around 13 miles from Dungannon to Armagh in three years, she said she couldn't help but wonder how he had survived.
"I wish he had a spy camera to see where he's been. Now he's lying stretched out on the bed and seems to like watching television," she said.