Phoebe had disappeared 20 years ago, but her microchip allowed her to reunite with her owner for the last few days of her life.

We here at Daily Paws are big proponents of microchipping your pets. Dog and cat owners around the world have had pets returned to them, thanks to microchipping technology, sometimes after covering great distances and several years. This story, however, may just take the cake—not only in terms of time but also the bittersweet conclusion it provides.

Phoebe the cat originally belonged to Christine Ball. They lived in the small English town of Nantwich in Cheshire, which is where Ball reported her missing in 2001. Then just a young 2-year-old cat, Phoebe seemingly disappeared. Ball put up signs around town, but nobody had seen the small cat.

Many years passed—two decades, in fact—before Ball heard any news about her beloved Phoebe. Earlier this month, Ball received a call from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) center in the town of Bridgemere, 7 miles from where Phoebe went missing.

"We have reunited cats which have been missing for a few years, but I have never come across a cat missing from home for 20 years," Lee Stewart, the manager at Stapeley Grange Animal Centre, told the BBC.

Vets said it's unlikely Phoebe would have survived to the ripe age of 22 living completely on her own, so it's highly possible she was taken in by another family and well taken care of after she disappeared from Ball's house.

Sadly, their reunion would be short-lived. A routine vet check discovered that Phoebe had a brain tumor. The chocolate tabby did not have much time left to live a comfortable life. Bell, now 59 and reportedly "gobsmacked" to have her cat returned to her after such a long separation, was able to spend Phoebe's final few days with her. It was a time that not only provided Bell with a bit of closure on the story of her missing cat, but it also allowed Phoebe to pass in comfort and companionship, knowing she was loved by someone.

However, one thing that almost every pet owner will agree upon, is that we'd all much rather spend those final, parting moments with our pets than not. Saying our final goodbyes can be a way of thanking them for their years of companionship. It's a painful time, but it's a pain that's born out of love. And as the omnipotent Dolly Parton once said, we can't have rainbows without a little rain.

A pet dying can be every bit as difficult on an owner as losing a human friend or loved one. Grief can be a difficult landscape to navigate and even knowing when and how to console someone after losing a pet can be confusing.