Cat missing for 7 years to be reunited with owner

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- The missing member of a Valley family is coming home after being lost for seven years.  Sophia the cat was found in San Diego over the weekend - 350 miles away from home.

Tricia Osterman thought her beloved kitty was gone for good. Thanks to a microchip and a little Christmas magic, her missing kitty cat is meow found.

“I'm almost in tears just talking about it. I miss her and want her back home so bad,” said Tricia Osterman, whose cat, Sophia, has been missing for three-fourths of a decade. “I don't know how she went missing because she was a strictly indoor cat.”

But this past weekend while Tricia was at work, she got a very unexpected phone call.

“They just said, ‘is this Tricia Osterman? This is the San Diego Humane Society and we found your gray, tortie cat,’” said Tricia.

It may have cost the pretty kitty a couple of those nine lives, but somehow Sophia turned up safe and sound at the San Diego humane society. Their best guess is that she went missing in Phoenix and was picked up by a family that then moved to Southern California. Sophia likely changed owners a few times until, this weekend, a family that could no longer care for her dropped her at the humane society in San Diego.

“I didn't think this actually happened. It reminded me of the movie Homeward Bound,” said Tricia, referring to the 1993 Disney movie about three beloved pets that make an incredible journey across California to be reunited with their human companions.

But even with home finally in site, Tricia was still worried. She couldn't afford to drive to get Sophia or have her flown to Phoenix. But then, another little miracle happened when the humane society vice president in San Diego approved something her organization has only done once before.

“We all have a soft spot in our hearts for animals that can't be with their families for the holidays, so [the VP] said, ‘let’s just go ahead and book a flight so we can get this cat home,” said Kelli Herwehe with the San Diego Humane Society.

For Tricia, that’s just the cat’s meow.

“I am so excited. It's been a very traumatic and tough year for me this year and [this] is just the best Christmas gift I could ever...I was in tears when they called me on the phone,” said Tricia.

The humane society staff in San Diego said Sophia has a little skin infection but is otherwise in good health. They're bringing her back to the Valley on Wednesday.