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Patches The Miracle Cat: Shows Up 3 Years After Tragic Mudslide


Now we have a story of one very lucky cat. In 2018, mudslides devastated neighborhoods in Santa Barbara County in Southern California.


Twenty-three people died. One of the victims had a calico cat named Patches who just recently turned up.

BRIANA HAIGH: It's a nice thing to hear that after that many years, you can get a little bit of joy out of something that was quite horrific.

MARTIN: This is Briana Haigh. Her mother, Josie, died in the disaster. And the garage where Patches and her other cat slept was destroyed.

HAIGH: We had kind of lost hope that they would be found, which is a hard kind of - I mean, it's obviously not as bad as losing the house and mom, but it was pretty horrific to actually lose them as well, that kind of connection to her.

MOSLEY: But almost three years later, Briana got a call from a local cat shelter.

HAIGH: A cat's been brought in who is microchipped to your mom. And it's a calico cat. And I was like, oh, my - like, I was kind of shocked.

BECKY MORRILL: It's a great mystery to us about where she's been for the last almost three years.

MARTIN: That's the voice of Becky Morrill with the Animal Shelter Assistance Program. In December, Patches was found roaming around the same area where she'd been lost almost three years earlier.

MOSLEY: And on New Year's Eve, Josie's partner, Norm, who survived that mudslide, came and got Patches. The cat came up to him right away.

MORRILL: It was a great moment and very poignant, right? Because it's both a wonderful reunion but a reminder of a very terrible loss for Norm. I think Norm was a little teary. We were a little teary. I don't think Patches cried, but she was happy.

MARTIN: Since then, Patches has been pretty much Velcroed (ph) to Norm. She likes to stay inside and nuzzle up against his neck. Briana Haigh says after losing so much, this is like getting a little piece back.

HAIGH: I think it just warms the heart a bit. And it's - I know my mom would be really happy. And I think it is quite strange that it came about right before the three-year anniversary, almost like a little message from mom.

MOSLEY: Haigh says it was a nice way to tie up 2020.

(SOUNDBITE OF DORENA'S "DANDELION") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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