Anchorage can be a big place for a missing pet – just ask a recently found feline whose path home took nearly half a decade.

The cat in question, 16-year-old Ruger, is owned by the Miller family.

"He's more like a dog and he very much so loves people; he always wants to be by people," said Cassie Miller.

Ruger has been part of a large family headed by Cassie and Chris, along with boys Caleb and newborn Cooper. The Millers' pets include two dogs named Dagny and Tonka, a pig named Madison and two horses.

Although the family is now whole, four years ago Ruger went his own way amid poor weather.

"We had a crazy fluke snow and Ruger always comes in, and what happened was that he didn't come in and we thought something happened," Cassie Miller said.

"We literally went and knocked on every door in the neighborhood and had flyers posted up," Chris Miller said.

Hundreds of doors and months of searching later, the Millers had no hope of getting Ruger back.

After all this time it wasn't a keen sense of adventure that brought Ruger home, but a simple microchip.

Laura Atwood at Anchorage Animal Care and Control says staff found Ruger in a night drop-off bin for animals. They quickly scanned Ruger, found the microchip and called the Millers.

Atwood says a quick swipe can change a cat's life.

"Seventy-five percent of the time we can get an animal back home because of that chip, so it makes a big difference," Atwood said.

Ruger is one of the lucky ones.

"As soon as I said his name he immediately shot out of the cat [carrier]: 'Meow, meow, meow,' like 'Hey, I'm here, it's me,'" Cassie Miller said.

For the Millers, the big question is simple: Where has Ruger been for the last four years?

"He's a really good hunter, though, so he could have had a four-year walkabout in the woods just living off the land and decided to come home one day," Chris Miller said.

The Millers said they are just thankful to have their furry friend back.

"He's obviously in one piece and he'll get to ride out his golden years here and at the end of the bed where he's supposed to be," Cassie Miller said. "But it wouldn't have happened if he wasn't microchipped."

You can get your pet microchipped at your local shelter or veterinarian. All animals adopted from Anchorage Animal Care and Control are microchipped.

If you've seen Ruger during the past four years, please let us know by email so we can share the cat's story.

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