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SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – A pet cat believed to have died during a devastating mudslide in 2018 was found three years later about a quarter mile from where her old neighborhood once stood.

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When a rainstorm forced debris from a forest scarred from a wildfire to crash into the hillside Montecito neighborhood, Jan. 9, 2018, it was believed that Patches died with her owner, Josie Gower. The catastrophe devastated the area and left 23 dead. Two victims were never found.

In December, workers at the Animal Shelter Assistance Program scanned the microchip of a stray calico cat that was brought in, and it turned out to be Patches. The cat was found about a quarter mile from where her old neighborhood once was.

While Gower did not survive the mudslide, her partner, Norm Borgatello, did. He was reunited with Patches New Year’s Eve, the shelter said.

“Though we don’t know exactly what she’s been doing with her life for the past three years, we can see that both Patches and Norm are thrilled to be reunited,” the shelter said. “As we see time and time again, a lost cat with a microchip has a much greater chance of being reunited with their family…no matter how, or for how long, they’ve been separated.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.