Dolly started out her life living rough in the outside part of a heating system belonging to a hotel in County Galway. She was rescued by Galway Cat Rescue as part of their TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return) programme after they were notified of her presence. Following this Tricia fostered her for a while and then decided to formally adopt Dolly into her family. Sadly, when Tricia passed away recently Dolly was homeless once more. I decided to try her out with Ted and Dougal and if they agreed I would adopt her.
I wasn’t all that confident it would work, as I have tried to integrate cats into our family before and they never worked out and had to be rehomed. However, nothing ventured, nothing gained and I thought maybe as Dolly was small and female, friendly and used to living among other cats that she wouldn’t be a threat to my two older boys.
I set up a crate with everything she needed – bed, food and water, litter tray, the essential cardboard box to play and hide in and a few toys. I kept her in the crate for the first week and showed her to Ted and Dougal when each of them was in my arms. A couple of days passed and I saw Ted looking at her as if to say: “Are you still here?” On about day three I put the crate up on a table – more for my benefit than anything else as it is easier to clean up at that level instead of crawling on the floor. After about a week I closed off part of the house (when Ted and Dougal were out in the garden) and let Dolly roam around a couple of rooms for a short while. I did this several times over a few days. With each outing her confidence grew and after a few more days I opened her crate while Ted and Dougal were in the vicinity. Naturally I stayed in the same room to intervene if necessary. Ted and Dougal were a little wary of her at first and she was very curious about them along with everything she encountered. She very quickly learnt that the crate is a place of refuge and if there are any sudden movements or loud noises she runs over and jumps in to safety.
Dolly enjoys racing up and down reception after a ping pong ball. Her favourite spot for an afternoon snooze has become our reception desk. She started training to become a receptionist but we already have two receptionists (Ted and Dougal). In keeping with the Ted and Dougal theme, we decided to add to her name giving her the new formal title “Dolly Doyle”, and her position in Cuddles will be that of our Tea Lady. Go on, go on, go on, you will, you will, you will! A couple of days ago she hunted a little fly which amused her for quite a while. Hmmm, she’s trying to make herself indispensable!
Dolly Doyle is three weeks here at this stage and she is making herself at home more and more. Ted has met her face to face a few times now. He hissed at her just once or twice (in a gentle way) but he mostly seems curious about her. Dougal and Dolly are more or less avoiding/ignoring each other. Dougal has growled at Dolly once or twice but again not in a threatening way, but as if to say: “Don’t come too close, I’m not sure what to make of you.” – or maybe he’s thinking “stay away, that dinner is mine!”
On the integration goes. I have a good feeling this will work.
PS: Dolly has several brothers and sisters, all lovely friendly cats looking for homes. Why not give one of them a chance and try to integrate them into your feline family? You won’t be sorry.
PPS: On an equally serious note, please make provision for any pets in your care should something happen to you and you are no longer able to look after them yourself.