When the devastating earthquake and tsunami struck Japan back in 2011, Kazuko Yamagishi and her husband Takeo were fortunate that their home survived without suffering serious damage -- though they did lose something even more difficult to replace. In the aftermath of the disaster which wreaked havoc on their town of Ofunato, the couple's 12-year-old cat Suika was nowhere to be seen, presumed to be lost forever like so much else.

But more than three years later, the Yamagishi family finally got news they likely never thought they'd receive.

Last month in a neighboring village about 10 miles away, another couple discovered a black cat alone in a pine forest and took the animal to a nearby shelter.Β According to Japanese media, after a few days passed without anyone coming to claim the cat, staff there took a closer look and noticed the faded word "Yamagishi" and a telephone number written on its collar.

When Kazuko and her husband got word that Suika had been found, it was almost too much to believe.

"Where have you been?" Kazuko asked of the long-lost cat. "It's just like a dream."