Reunited after 3 years (Diego)

Written by Janine van Zyl – Public Relations Officer at AWS PE

A dusty-grey cat was brought to the Animal Welfare Society Port Elizabeth as a stray early in January 2016 after being hurt in an accident. Thomas, as we named him, struggled and couldn’t get up on his back legs. He was a lovely boy but needed special care. I immediately felt a connection with him and because I work closely with the AWS cats, I was able to take him home to ensure that he could be monitored around the clock…

Thomas improved remarkably with the extra care, but still limped badly; X-rays indicated that his pelvis was fractured. This meant that his recovery time was weeks instead of days. I was very worried at that stage because no one had come forward to claim him and we needed to make a decision about his veterinary care soon. After consulting with the AWS veterinary team, it was decided that the best course of action with regards to Thomas’s injury would be for him to stay in a quiet home where the fracture would have time to heal. Despite his injury, Thomas was managing surprisingly well – he had such a fighting spirit!

How Thomas found his home

With no one having claimed him, I put his story on a cat-friendly Facebook group that I belong to, in the hopes of finding Thomas a family that would be willing to commit to caring for him despite his ‘disability’. As much as my husband and I wanted to keep him, our three cats didn’t take kindly to having another feline in the house.

Shortly after posting Thomas on Facebook, AWS received a call from Roy Thomas, who said he was sure ‘Thomas’ was his missing Diego! Diego had been missing for three years from a nearby suburb – Roy still remembered little things about him that matched with what I knew about Thomas. Roy came and identified him at the shelter the next morning and, before we knew it, Diego was happily settled back with his original dad!

Diego’s owner, Roy Thomas, tells us more…

I got Diego as a rescue kitten in 2011. He was beautiful with very distinct markings – he has white markings on his belly and chest that make it look like he’s wearing a ‘monokini’. From a young age Diego was a talker – I suppose a better word is moaner. You could never get his food out of the tin fast enough and, for some strange reason, he would only drink water out of a cup.

Diego was never a wanderer. He went out at night and during the day but would always be home for feeding time. At the age of two he went out in the early hours of the morning and never returned. Our family went looking for him and, as he was wearing a collar with a tag, we were sure he would soon turn up. But, after countless visits to the vets and animal welfares, along with ‘Missing’ flyers posted around our neighbourhood, we came to the sad realisation that Diego was gone. At the time none of us cried – we all believed that he’d been adopted by a new family because he was so beautiful and loving.

Then, at the end of January, my sister stumbled across a Facebook post about a cat AWS PE had rescued; she recognised him as our missing Diego. She contacted me in Johannesburg and forwarded the post. I immediately contacted AWS and identified Diego by his markings and mannerisms, which were not visible on the posted photographs. The next day I went to fetch him – straight away I knew it was him. The vet was happy for me to take him and, after three long years, Diego was finally home.

This just shows the bond between people and their pets and the power of social media.