By Rachel Wulff

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – An Arizona family’s cat that was lost on a road trip to New Mexico spent three weeks traveling cross-country with a truck driver before being reunited with its family in Sacramento.

The connection was clear when Jeremy Sandoval adopted Rhkia before he met his wife.

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“They have just this different relationship than she has with the rest of us,” said Ashley Sandoval.

Rhkia was part of the family, happily traveling in the minivan with the Tuscon couple’s five kids, a dog and two other cats. She’s been doing it for the last nine years, freely roaming about the cab with the kids.

“She likes to find places to hide, she is adventurous,” Ashley said.

So when Rhkia disappeared on the road trip to New Mexico they figured she was on one of her adventures.

“We didn’t know where she jumped out at. We didn’t see her at all,” Ashley said.

The family couldn’t find her but a truck driver did, and she took it upon herself to take care of Rhkia – and for that, they’re grateful.

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“Because she didn’t have to and she was even telling the people who worked there, ‘you need to help this cat, you need to help this cat,’ And they just told her people just dump their cats here all the time,” said Sandoval.

That truck driver crisscrossed the country a couple of times with Rhkia and was going to keep her until a trip to the vet revealed she was microchipped. So the trucker contacted the cat’s owner and dropped Rhkia off at the Sacramento SPCA, as they were in the area. The family flew in to Sacramento to bring Rhkia back home.

“Microchipping is cheap and easy and the best way to get your animal home,” Ken Altine with the Sacramento SPCA said.

For Rhkia, it was a road trip that lasted a little longer than it should.

“You’ve been to more places than we have,” Ashley said to Rhkia after their reunion.

The family is still finding it hard to believe the cat came back – and it was all because of a total stranger.

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“We’re very thankful for her. There’s not a lot of people like that,” Ashley said.