Meet Dexter, cat who was missing for three years... but now needs a new home
A cat which went missing three years ago has been found - but, in a sad twist to the tale, he will not be returning home... because his owner no longer feels able to look after him.
Dexter, a black and white cat from Dungannon, was spotted looking for scraps in a sorry state this week by kindly staff at the Apple Blossom Lodge Nursing home in Armagh.
Having taken Dexter to a local vet for treatment, the nursing home's staff have now committed to finding the loveable stray a permanent home.
Manager Heather Maxwell managed to catch Dexter, and told the Belfast Telegraph how the malnourished moggy had captured their hearts.
"The care staff had been feeding the cat for a few days. It seemed to be quite nervous, but it was getting better every day," she said.
Dexter could hardly have chosen a more animal friendly place to arrive, with the nursing home boasting its own mini-farm featuring goats and ducks.
Catering manager Gladys McMurdie helped to coax the fragile feline out with senior health care assistant Elaine Donald feeding it and even considering adopting him.
Cats Protection Armagh advised them to take Dexter to the local vet and agreed to pay the costs.
After the cat was given a health check and cleaned up, they discovered the cat was microchipped, allowing them to contact the owner.
"I was just thrilled, the cat was in such a bad state," said Ms Maxwell. "The vet told me the owner had always wondered what had happened to Dexter and he was just over the moon he had been found."
However, by 4.30pm yesterday the vet was told the owner no longer felt they could afford to look after Dexter, already having another cat to care for.
Veterinary nurse Sarah Buckley said: "He should have no problem getting a home, because he's a very affectionate cat. We gave him a health check, worm and flea treatment as well as dematting him. He was in a bad state being a long haired cat, and was a little bit underweight."
With three years and 13 miles between Armagh and Dungannon, it remains a mystery how Dexter has survived in the wild for so long.
"Normally when you hear of a cat going missing you only give them a couple of weeks; if they don't turn up it makes you think the worst," said Ms Buckley.
"But at three years and such a distance, to travel to Armagh and survive is amazing.
"He's still such a pleasant cat and has a great personality, considering everything."