A charity that trains guide dogs in Scotland has welcomed some unusual new arrivals – two 20-week-old kittens.
The strange pairing came about after Guide Dogs charity contacted Cats Protection before Christmas looking for two cats to come and live at its school in Forfar where they would become part of the training programme for new dogs.
Following discussions with Cats Protection’s Arbroath and Clackmannanshire branches, a confident pair of kittens called Arthur and Charlie were found to replace cats Belle and Tinker who were formerly at the centre.
Sharyn Wood, Co-ordinator for Cats Protection’s Arbroath & Carnoustie Branch, said: “It was an unusual request but Arthur and Charlie are such cheeky boys we were sure they would be ideal. As many of us know, dogs and cats can live in harmony if the right training is in place so this is a great idea.”
The Guide Dogs Forfar Training School opened in 2007 and provides foundation training to around 200 guide dogs each year.
For the first few weeks of Charlie and Arthur’s stay, the new arrivals will be in a room on their own with an armchair, cosy beds and activity toys.
After a week or two, they will be encouraged to explore some of the corridors, and will gradually be given more freedom until staff are confident the cats are well settled into their new home.
“So far, Charlie and Arthur seem to love life at the centre – particularly the benefits of underfloor heating!” said senior guide dog trainer at the school, Karen Edwards.
“They seem unfazed by dogs barking through the walls so we think they’re going to cope well when they are introduced to dogs, who will be on leads.
“Having the cats living at the training school will allow the dogs to see them regularly and become familiar, non-distracted and calm around them.
“And of course, the cats are also a friendly and calming influence on the staff as well!”
Those wishing to adopt a cat from Cats Protection (dog friendly or otherwise) can visit www.cats.org.uk or call the charity’s helpline on 03000 12 12 12 to find the nearest branch or adoption centre.
For more about Guide Dogs, visit www.guidedogs.org.uk