Photo for illustration purposes: Jude and John Kinloch broke down in tears as they were reunited with Tabs, who disappeared in February 2013. Picture: Pexels

London - It was a Christmas reunion worthy of celebration – and a few tears.

Nearly seven years after going missing, a beloved cat was returned home to his stunned owners on Christmas Eve.

Jude and John Kinloch broke down in tears as they were reunited with Tabs, who disappeared in February 2013.

The tabby cat, who is now 19 years old, was handed in to animal rescue volunteers after being found in a "pitiful" state on the side of a street miles away from the couple’s home in the Isle of Sheppey. 

Mother-of-three Lisa Jones called an Animal Rescue volunteer who found a chip in the "emaciated" cat revealing his name and owner's telephone number.

They called Tabs' owners, Jude and John Kinloch, who broke down in tears in disbelief and immediately drove to collect him. Prison worker Jude, 53, said: "We couldn't believe it when we got the phone call.

"I thought it was some kind of prank at first. Then when she said the cat's name, Tabs, I knew it wasn't.

"My husband hasn't stopped crying since. He was looking at Tabs on his tablet the other day. He still has her on it as his screensaver. He has never changed it. It was like he had been reunited with his best friend."

Jones spotted Tabs near her home in Gillingham, Kent, and decided to take him in because she felt for him.

The 32-year-old said: "I was walking home after buying a toy for my daughter and I just saw this cat at the end of my road looking really matted, skinny and poorly."

Jude said Tabs is now settling into his new home sat atop of a hot water bottle surrounded by fellow pet cat Ziggy and Jack Russell Pip, who are both treating him with care.

Daily Mail