The Cat Came Back

3 years after being lost in a tragic mudslide Patches wows family with miracle return.

In January 2018, a deadly mudslide hit Montecito, CA, destroying homes and taking the lives of many.  Josie Gower, a longtime resident, was one of the 23 victims, and Gower’s family assumed that her beloved pet cat, Patches, was also gone.  But, in December, nearly three years after the tragic event, Gower’s family received some heartwarming news.

Patches had been found alive less than a quarter of a mile from her former home and was brought to the Animal Shelter Assistance Program (ASAP) in Santa Barbara County as a stray.  After scanning the calico’s microchip, the shelter was able to contact Gower’s partner, Norm Borgatello, who had lived with her before the mudslide hit and was shocked to learn that Patches was still alive.

“We had kinda lost hope,” Briana Haigh, Gower’s daughter, told NPR. “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,” she added.

Patches and Borgatello instantly recognized each other when they were reunited at the shelter on New Year’s Eve. “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 posted on Facebook.

Thanks to the cat’s registered microchip and will to survive, Gower’s family has found some peace in reconnecting with their late mother’s furry friend.  “I think it just warms the heart a bit…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,” said Haigh.

The ASAP celebrated the reunion, posting on their Facebook page, “We are so grateful that, with the support of our amazing community, not only are we able to save lives, but we are often able to help these special reunions happen. 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.”