Tearful reunion: missing cat back with owner after 7 years

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- Tears flowed freely as Tricia Osterman waited to be reunited with her beloved cat, Sophia, lost for seven years and discovered in another state this weekend.

"She will definitely remember me," said Tricia, standing with her family near the U.S. Airways baggage claim at Sky Harbor Airport Wednesday.

Moments later, a flight from San Diego arrived and Tricia was reunited with her missing kitty - home at last.

"Sophie, baby, you're home," said Tricia, running to meet the woman delivering Sophia via a pet carrier. "Oh, my princess is back."

The missing member of Tricia's family is now home after being lost for seven years.  Sophia the cat was found in San Diego over the weekend - 350 miles away from home.  Tricia thought her beloved kitty was gone for good but thanks to a microchip and a little Christmas magic, her missing kitty cat is now found.

“Christmas miracles do happen,” said Tricia Osterman, whose cat, Sophia, has been missing for three-fourths of a decade. “I'm so excited. This little girl's going to cuddle up to me forever.  I'm going to hug her and never let her go again."

This past weekend while Tricia was at work, she got the 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. So on Wednesday, a representative from the San Diego Humane Society flew with Sophia back to Phoenix.  It's something they've done only once before.

“I love to see people who care that much about their animals,” said Kelli Herwehe, with the San Diego Humane Society.  “It makes it worth the trip out here to see Tricia so happy and to see that Sophia is going to be so well taken care of in the home she always belonged to.”

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

“Oh my gosh, thank you guys so much,” Tricia said to Kelli. "I don't know how to repay you."

“You’re very welcome,” said Kelli, smiling at Tricia petting Sophia.

The humane society staff in San Diego said Sophia has a little skin infection but is otherwise in good health. Tricia is still working on a way to pay for the necessary veterinary bills.