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Nancy Shaskey held out hope for six long years that she would one day see her long-lost cat Stickers, who jumped in a repairman's truck in 2003 and hadn't been seen since.

Shaskey continued to search for the blue cream tortoiseshell her family had raised for three years since it was a kitten.

"I would just drive through, looking for her. I felt like she was still there," Shaskey said, acknowledging that last year she finally began to think her cat may never be found.

This month, Stickers returned home to the amazed Holladay family after seven years.

But the story of this prodigal feline is more than just a joyful reunion. It's one of modern technology and of another family's heartbreak.

Megan Hess discovered Stickers when the wounded animal wandered onto her Murray property shortly after fleeing the repairman's truck.

She nursed her back to health and called her Mow-mows, a variation of meow-meow, because the cat was talkative.

"She would have whole conversations with you," Hess said.

The cat lived with the Hess family for seven years, but this fall, Hess decided she could no longer care for the pet, and she regretfully surrendered Mow-mows to the Humane Society of Utah.

"I was heartbroken. She was part of my family," she said, emotion welling up in her voice.

At 10 years old, Mow-mows' fate at the shelter wasn't promising, said Carl Arky, Humane Society communication director. Finding a new owner for a mature cat is difficult, as most people want a kitten or a younger cat.

But technology saved the day.

A tearful goodbye from Hess would end in joy three days later for Shaskey. Technicians at the Murray facility scanned for an identifying microchip, which revealed her original owner.

"Tracking down the original owner and getting them all together is very difficult," Arky said.

At first, Shaskey said she could not believe the Nov. 9 phone message from the Humane Society.

"I waited until the kids got home from school," she said. "We went down there. It was her."

The reunion was a rare moment for shelter workers, who care for hundreds upon hundreds of animals that never see a home again.

"It was one of my happiest days here. Usually there are tears about people giving up an animal," Arky said.

Hess was ecstatic to learn of the cat's fate and glad of the reunion.

Shaskey noted the circular nature of this cat's journey: The Shaskeys had picked up Stickers as an orphan kitten from the Humane Society, and that agency played a role in her return.

"That cat, she's used up at least three of her lives, " Arky said.

Stickers' return has been smooth, and the cat, a few pounds heavier, seems to recognize family members and some surroundings, Shaskey said.

"She's sticking around," she added. "She's home."