MONTECITO, Calif. - A Montecito family is overjoyed after being reunited with their beloved cat that was missing for 475 days.
The last time the Strogoff's saw Diamond was one day before the Montecito Mudslide destroyed their property and surrounding neighborhood.
Ten-year-old Alexander, and 7-year-old twins Benjamin and Violet Strogoff loved Diamond because, "she was calm and played with them like a dog," said their mom Noelle.
The family decided to evacuate their home when warnings came in about the impending storm. They left quickly and couldn't round up their two cats, Diamond and Huguette, in time. When they returned home a few days later to assess the damage to their property, their pets were nowhere to be found.
"I had no idea that what happened was going to happen and assumed they would be fine. When we got back, we could't find them," Noelle Strogoff said.
The family had to relocate for a year until their property was repaired. They returned home in January 2019, but were still longing for their pets.
On Monday, Noelle was talking to a worker who was helping her with some renovations when she decided to tell him about her cat, Diamond.
The man, who didn't want to be identified, told Noelle that her desciption matched that of a cat he had been feeding for quite some time. They pulled out their cell phones and compared pictures.
"Twenty minutes later, I'm following him to his home and there's Diamond totally fine," she said.
Diamond, who turns 3 years old in July, had been fending for herself for more than a year, just a few blocks away. She had survived on food from kind-hearted strangers.
Noelle said she believes this story serves as a reminder to never give up hope and that miracles happen.
"Don't give up, keep looking, just keep talking to people and expressing what it is you are looking for," she said.
The family's other cat, Huguette, remains missing.
People who spot pets that appear to be without a home, are urged to take a photo and share on Facebook or with the Humane Society.
Noelle also urged Montecito residents to keep their eyes and hearts open as the search continues for the remains of two children killed in the mudslide: 2-year-old Lydia Sutthithepa and 17-year-old Jack Cantin.