Reunited after four long years

Written by Tracey Hartley of Feral Cat Rescue Trust and Shonet du Plessis

A homeowner living in a complex in the Mount Edgecombe (KZN) area contacted me asking for help in trapping a black cat that had been eating regularly at her place for the last six months. She’d noticed that its skin condition was poor and it was very thin when it arrived, and she needed help to get it vet-checked and sterilised, if needed.

A memory from years ago

As I drove in through the gates, it triggered a memory: a few years ago I’d trapped a cat there for my friend Shonet – but I couldn’t remember what he looked like. So, I messaged her to jog my memory. Unfortunately, she didn’t reply until a couple of days later, by which time he’d already been to the vet.

The vet had a terrible time trying to find his testicles, even after opening him up (sometimes cats have undescended testicles that can’t be seen from the outside). Just to be safe, they tied the “tube” so he couldn’t reproduce and clipped his ear, as is the norm with ferals so as to make identifying of sterilised cats easy. 

She thought about him every day

Then I heard back from my friend Shonet du Plessis. I told her about the black cat and said that it was weird that he had no clipped ear and no testicles. That’s when she reminded me that her black male cat, Honda, had gone missing FOUR years before in the same area (and, of course, he was already neutered)!

Shonet thought about Honda every day; her heart had broken when she eventually had to move away from there, never knowing what had happened to him, despite months of searching for him.

Never give up

By then I was convinced that the cat that was at that moment recovering from surgery and Shonet’s cat were one and the same. I went straight to Somerset Park vet and stuck my hand into the cage to pet him – and he was so happy to be tickled. Unlike feral cats, he was tame and friendly, and loved the attention.

I was so excited and called Shonet immediately to tell her that I was sure this was Honda. The next morning, we met at the vet’s recovery ward where she quickly identified him as her special missing soulmate. He was truly happy to see her, and to be tickled and fussed over. She took him home to be reunited with his family and he quickly settled back in as if he’d never left.

It just goes to show that you should never give up looking for your missing pet because miracles can happen!

Shonet du Plessis shares…

Being reunited with Honda is pretty astounding and we are delighted to have him back in our lives. I honestly thought I’d never see him again. It’s a great reminder that you should never give up hope. 

Honda is doing amazingly well. It took some time getting him used to home life again after being “feral” for so long, but we kept him very comfortably in a room for a long time before introducing him to the rest of the family, both humans and animals. I took my time as I realised how big an adjustment it was going to be for him. 

Once he was settled, we opened the door and allowed him to roam around the house safely until – two weeks later – we opened the doors to the outside for the very first time. Now, he ventures out but only very close to the house and then straight back inside. He’s even integrated well with my two dogs and Ming Ming, also a rescue cat. 

Honda loves the warmth and security of our home. He knows there’s always a fresh meal, a comfy bed, a soft lap to sit on in the evenings and, most of all, plenty of love to go around. 

Tracey Hartley is the one who deserves all the credit here, not just for an amazing find but also the relentless work she does for the feral cats of Durban and surrounds. 

I’m grateful for her every day. The loss of Honda was one I took very hard and I’m so pleased he gets to live out his life, happy and contented, not out there wondering when his next meal will be or where he’s going to sleep during the colder months. Thank you!

The Feral Cat Rescue Trust is run by a small group of volunteers passionate about giving the feral cats of Durban and surrounds a better quality of life on the streets. FCRT’s primary concern is sterilisation, but they also feed many feral colonies and rescue sick and injured cats. Find out more on Facebook @FeralCatRescueTrustDurbanSouthAfrica.