A Kansas family has been reunited with their lost cat three years after it went missing.
The unlikely reunion happened when an animal shelter in Durango, Colorado, worked to track down the microchipped cat's owner after finding her on a road in a nearby town, the Durango Herald first reported.
The journey back home for Sarin the cat started on Aug. 29 when she was brought into La Plata County Humane Society, animal shelter representative Cassidy Crisp told CBS News.
When her microchip showed her address was in Kansas, shelter workers initially assumed Sarin's owners hadn't updated their address, Crisp said.
Longtime shelter volunteer Cathy Roberts called owner Jeni Owens to tell her the cat had been found, but an incredulous Owens responded: "What cat are you talking about?"
Sarin had gone missing from Owens' Topeka, Kansas, home so long ago, the family had already mourned the loss of their beloved feline. They had even gotten another cat a year after losing Sarin.
The family, which has two kids, was excited to get her back.
"They were shocked to hear the cat reappeared," Crisp said.
Shelter workers at first weren't sure how to get the 5-year-old cat back to Kansas. Crisp reached out to American Airlines, which happily agreed to transport the cat back to Kansas free of charge.
On Thursday, Sarin was reunited with her family, bringing the household to tears, Crisp said.
There are still questions about how Sarin ended up almost 700 miles away from home, with Crisp theorizing that she possibly hopped on trucks, or hid in the axis of wheels of cars. Along the way, someone could have kept her and moved with her to Durango before she ran away.
"It's a long way," Crisp said.
But the reunion would not have been possible without the cat's microchip.
While microchips cannot track a pet's location, they are useful identifiers.
"That's the first thing we check," Crisp said. "...That's why it's so important."
Crisp also stressed the importance of pet owners making sure the phone number connected to the microchip is always up to date. She said if it isn't, shelters can't get in touch with an animal's proper owners, and they opt to begin the adoption process.
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