Dolly, the beloved ex-SeaWorld performing cat

VP for Alumni Relation Michael Bacon’s cat has made her home on Trinity’s campus

Seeing a cat around campus is nothing new to a Trinity student. Due to the work of the Trinity Cat Alliance, many feral felines call Trinity University’s outdoor landscape home. There is an outlier in the midst of the Trinicats, though: a confident cat who very much has a home and is known to walk right up to students for attention and spend her free time lounging in the Center for Sciences and Innovation (CSI) and Marrs McLean Hall. That cat is Dolly.

Dolly’s actual home is just down the road from campus with Trinity’s own vice president for Alumni Relations and Development, Michael Bacon, and his wife, Suzie Bacon. They adopted her in the early days of the pandemic, around April 2020, after Suzie had heard from a friend that SeaWorld was being forced to rehome the cats and dogs from their “Pets Ahoy” exhibit.

“When the shutdown happened last year, a bunch of people were putting a plea out on social media that SeaWorld had this whole show of rescue dogs and cats. It was a pretty big number [of cats and dogs] that they were having to rehome. And so we were like ‘we’ve always kind of wanted a cat, why not?’” Suzie said.

The adoption process included matchmaking the family with the perfect cat, a background check and a trial period where Dolly, named Henderson at the time, would be dropped off at their house to settle in and adjust for a couple of days.

“They were very particular about what our family situation was. We talked to them about what our situation was, where we lived, all that and then they were like, ‘Okay, we think Henderson’s gonna be the right fit for you.’ [They told us] ‘she’s very confident, she’s always the cat we bring out for meet and greets. She’s very confident.’ That’s the word they kept using over and over again,” Suzie said.

The Bacons fell in love with her after the trial period, renaming her Dolly after Dolly Parton in honor of her days as a show cat. Little did they know what a wild ride they were in for with their new furry friend, who had spent her days greeting strangers at a waterpark and performing in shows— all motivated by frequent offers of treats, of course.

“So two things came out of that, one is that she loves people, and two, she’s food-obsessed,” Michael said.

She also quickly grew out of Michael and Suzie’s home, discovering all the people and adventures the outdoors, and furthermore Trinity’s campus, had to offer.

“She had quickly realized that there was a whole cat buffet on campus,” Suzie said.

That was how it all started, and Dolly quickly began causing problems.

“For example, we’ve got a picture of her in a lab in CSI. We get regular messages that she’s hanging out in the lobby of Marrs McLean. Suzie once had an embarrassing moment with the San Antonio Chief of Police, because [Dolly] was eating his cat’s food,” Michael said.

Dolly even went missing for a period of several days last December, only to be discovered camping out in a Trinity student’s dorm. The student assumed the cat was lost until Michael and Suzie sent out a call to Mindy Morales of the Trinity Cat Alliance in search of their missing feline.

“[Morales] was like, we know this cat. She has been all around campus, everybody knows her, and we think she’s in a dorm room because a student was going to rescue her,” Suzie said.

“So a student kidnapped her for three days, even though she had a collar on, and I think she was more like an emotional pet to help her through finals,” Michael added.

She was then returned home safe, without a scratch.

Although it has since been lost somewhere on campus, after these incidents Dolly sported a tag that read “DOLLY, UNLESS I AM INJURED, I AM FINE, PLEASE POST A PIC OF ME #DOLLYTHESHOWCAT”.

It’s safe to say that this is likely not the last time we will be hearing about Dolly’s many on-campus shenanigans.
Next time you stop by the area around CSI and McLean, consider looking around for this friendly feline, and maybe even posting a picture with her to the ‘gram. We hear she loves the attention.

If you are perhaps curious about her SeaWorld days, check out this Youtube video featuring her performing in their “Pets Ahoy” exhibit. Her part of the performance, featuring a walk across a high beam down into an elevator, starts at around the 16:40 mark.