Miracle puss returns
As far as black cats go, Pablo is about as lucky as they come.
Oamaru's MacKenzie family moved to Waitaki from Christchurch about two years ago as a result of the Canterbury earthquakes, bringing their beloved moggy with them.
However, it wasn't long before 7-year-old Pablo disappeared from his new Arun St home.
"He was missing for two years, we thought he was gone," Marla MacKenzie says. "We checked at the SPCA every month. I had a gut feeling in my heart of hearts he might be safe."
As it turns out, she was right.
Two years after running away, Pablo has been reunited with his family after an extraordinary stroke of luck.
The family spotted a picture of a black cat the North Otago SPCA had placed in a local publication that had a striking resemblance to Pablo. Heading down to the shelter full of hope, the MacKenzies knew at once it was indeed Pablo they had spotted.
"He was found on Tamar St, but we didn't know if he had been surviving on his own or he was being looked after."
Pablo has what Mrs MacKenzie describes as "a bit of a gummy lip" which helped identify him.
While a little worse for wear with a couple of broken teeth, possibly as the result of being struck by a car, Pablo was otherwise in pretty good shape.
It is some welcome good news for the family, that has been through some rough times recently.
After moving south from Christchurch, Marla's husband James experienced a serious health scare.
Mr MacKenzie says Marla and their three children, Madeline and Charlie, both aged 3, and 6-year-old Elliot, couldn't be more delighted with their old pet.
The twins don't remember Pablo so it's a bit like having a new pet for them.
"It's a wonderful thing. You really need a little miracle in life. We have nicknamed him St Pablo now," Mr MacKenzie says.
"After all of the things we have been through it was just the thing we needed at this point in life, a little bit of good news."
Mrs MacKenzie believes Pablo may have survived by living on birds around the Lookout Point area, however she doesn't know for sure. She describes Pablo as a "really friendly, smoochy cat", a trait he had since he wandered into her Lyttelton workplace as a youngster.
"I found him as a kitten. I was working in a shop in Lyttelton and he would wander in, so I claimed him and took him home."
Pablo isn't head cat of the house nowadays however, he's going to have to battle for that title with Lola, who is also black and about the same age as Pablo.
North Otago SPCA staff thought it was "a really sweet story", and the family is eternally grateful for the organisation's efforts in finding Pablo's home.
"We dearly thank the SPCA," Mr MacKenzie says.
"If they hadn't put that ad in, we would never have known he was there."