A Christmas Miracle: The Story of Ink

17th May, 2024

Written by SPCA Brakpan Manager – Tamaryn Lombard

Photography by Danelle Waschefort

Ink’s story begins with a heart-breaking tale, so grab some tissues. On the 19th of December 2022, Ink, a beloved cat, went missing and was presumed to be either lost or taken. His owner, Zona Smit, who’d recently undergone a major operation, was devastated by his disappearance. Despite her best efforts, Christmas that year was spent in sorrow knowing that Ink was still missing.

Fast forward exactly one year to the day of Ink’s mysterious disappearance, and a call was made to rescue a lost, hungry, and sickly kitty. The cat was nowhere to be found, but Tamaryn and Mariska went out again to look for it. As they called out for the lost cat, Ink appeared and ran straight to them. They scooped him up and brought him back to the SPCA.

Upon scanning him, Nadine and Zee discovered a microchip and called the registered details. To everyone’s surprise and delight, it was dear Zona, who’d never given up searching for Ink. Zona travelled all the way from Mountain View, Pretoria. Yes, folks, PRETORIA. First time Zona has been to Brakpan as well.

What makes this story even more incredible is how Ink helped Zona recover from a serious accident that left her unable to use her right arm. The doctors believed it was a miracle that Zona survived and made an almost full recovery. She felt that Ink had given her the strength to fight and live another day, which is why she never gave up looking for him.

This is a true Christmas miracle. Last year, and it was spent in absolute joy. After tears of joy were shed, Ink made his way back home with his mamma. This is a valuable lesson on why microchipping your pet is essential, and why you should never give up searching for your furry friend. Ink may have been underweight and dirty, but he was sterilised and will be back to his former glory in no time.

If you happen to find a stray animal, please report it to as many SPCAs as possible and ensure that the animal is checked for a microchip. As Ink’s story shows, a pet can end up over 80km away or more. Ink was found with a dirty collar on with no details, and we can only assume that he was taken and never ever checked for a microchip. So, make sure you try to get the stray animal to the local SPCA as soon as possible.

We’re thrilled to have reunited Ink with his family again, and moments like these make our job all worthwhile.

Zona, Ink’s owner, shares...

I was in a very bad accident in Aug 2018, after which I required therapy. After one session with the therapist I was told to start thinking about getting into a relationship, because I need to keep my mind busy and something to occupy my time. I, however, wasn’t looking for a relationship and decided on getting an animal instead. I talked to my sister about it and said that I’d rather have a male cat than a dog.

On the 31st of May 2021 she asked me if I could take her to pick something up, because she didn’t know where the pick-up place was.

When we got to the shopping mall, I had to stop next to a specific car. My sister got out and spoke to the people and, when she turned around, she had this tiny ball of white-and-black fur in her hands and gave it to me.

I was speechless and excited and happy. That’s how Ink came into my life. He saved me and helped me heal from the depression that threatened to engulf me.

He became the reason for me to rush home after work. He knew the sound of my car and always rushed out to greet me at the car.

In December 2022, I had to go for an operation and couldn’t leave him at home alone for the hospital and recovery period. So, I took him to my boyfriend (who came into my life only after I accepted my disability and myself). I stayed there for three days before I was admitted to hospital and Ink looked settled in.

On the day that I was discharged (the 18th of December 2022), Ink was nowhere to be found – I was upset and heartbroken. While I was supposed to be resting and recovering, I was being driven around the area, calling out for Ink. I had missing posters made and put them up everywhere. I even made fliers for the post boxes in the neighbourhood. I added Ink as missing on lost pet websites and posted all over Facebook for help to find him. But nothing!

By December 2023 I looked again at the missing pet notification and refused to remove it. On the 18th of December 2023, just before the Brakpan SPCA’s closing time, I received a call from an unknown number. I answered and it was the SPCA informing me that they had Ink.

I was shocked. I started to cry but was extremely relieved and beyond happy. I informed the gentleman that I was too far away from Brakpan to be able to collect him that day but told him I’d drive though the next morning. I Googled where the SPCA was from me, 85km. What the frikkadel!? But nothing was going to stop me!

When I picked up Ink he was still frightened and very skinny. I was so happy to have him back. While driving home, with him safely in a carrier, I spoke to him all the way and reassured him of my love.

That made Christmas 2023 for me so special. A full year after Ink disappeared I got him back because I’d had him chipped. My Christmas was made – I had the biggest present anyone could have wished for.

Ink is now a very happy (fat) kitty giving lots of love and kisses. Still running out to the car to greet me when I arrive home.

I had Ink microchipped when he was nine months old as I believed it was necessary. I’m very grateful for the SPCA Centurion that ran the chipping drive for a very affordable price. Otherwise Ink wouldn’t have been chipped. And an important message to all animal owners: please have your pet microchipped!

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