A cat has been reunited with the family of its owner who was lost and killed during a Californian mudslide more than three years ago, all through the help of a stranger and some computer technology.

The cat - named Patches - went missing after a mudslide tore through the Montecito area back in January 2018. The cat's owner, a woman named Josie, was killed during the disaster. Her family assumed that Patches was killed along with Josie and had given up looking for the calico cat.

An unidentified person reportedly found Patches and assumed that cat was a stray. Patches was then brought to ASAP - a Santa Barbara-based animal shelter. Thanks to a microchip implanted on Patches, the animal shelter was able to identify her owner.

ASAP said in a post on Facebook that Josie was a long-time supporter of the animal shelter. The shelter was able to track down Josie's partner, Norm, who had survived the mudslide.

The shelter then decided to organize a reunion between the cat and Norm, who ASAP said had no idea that Patches was still alive.

The California mudslide, which was caused by heavy rains on areas burned by wildfires, killed a total of 23 residents. The disaster damaged more than 1,400 homes and destroyed 107 others in the Montecito area.