By CBSLA Staff

MONTECITO (CBSLA) – A cat which went missing during the devastating Montecito mudslides in 2018 that claimed the lives of 23 people – including her owner — has been miraculously found.

Patches, a cat which went missing during the Montecito mudslides of January of 2018, was found in December of 2020, and reunited with her owner. (Animal Shelter Assistance Program/Facebook)

Patches went missing in January 2018 when a powerful storm caused debris flows that buried dozens of homes in the upscale Santa Barbara County enclave. Her owner, Josie, died in the mudslides.

On Monday, the Animal Shelter Assistance Program, a nonprofit animal rescue group, reported that a stray calico cat that was brought into its shelter in December had a chip which, when scanned, identified her as the missing cat, Patches.

Josie’s partner Norm came to the shelter and was reunited with Patches after three years.

“He (Norm) was overwhelmed when he came to pick her up on New Year’s Eve, as though he’d seen a ghost,” ASAP wrote in a Facebook post Monday. “And in a way, it was almost like he had. Even more unbelievable, is the fact that Patches was found less than a quarter mile away from her original home in Montecito.”

The Thomas Fire, at the time the second largest in state history, broke out in December 2017 and scorched 281,000 acres and destroyed more than 750 homes in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

(ASAP/Facebook)

It set the stage for the deadly mudslides which hit Montecito in January of 2018, when a storm triggered flash floods on hillsides ravaged by the Thomas Fire, killing 23 people, destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes and shut down the 101 Freeway for weeks.