A couple from Rectory Farm were "stunned into silence" after their cat, Sherlock was found safe and well in Bedford, two-and-a-half years after it left home.
Patrick and Jane Hutt waved goodbye one evening to Sherlock, the eight-year-old short-haired cat, in June 2014.
Following a month-long search around Northamptonshire by the owners, Sherlock couldn't be found.
Mr Hutt told the Chronicle & Echo that the couple feared the worst for the cat. He said: "For a couple of weeks, we put posters up, we had hope for a couple of months.
"We thought he had been run over - we were stunned into silence when he came back. My wife said its the best Christmas present she's ever had.
"We had five other cats, we didn't know how they would be but he has integrated with the other cats, he's fitted in with them all quite well."
This week Sherlock was taken to see a vet in Bedford by a concerned local who had spotted him living wild in the town.
The vet scanned Sherlock for a microchip and was able to immediately trace his owners.
Mrs Hutt said: “We always wondered what had happened to Sherlock and couldn’t believe it when the phone rang to say he’d been found.
"We’re overjoyed to be reunited with him, although it certainly makes us nervous now when he goes out.”
After collecting him, Mr and Mrs Hutt took him to White Cross Vets at Weston Favell Shopping Centre for a full health check.
Nishi Jani, clinic director at White Cross Vets, said: “Cats are great survivors and Sherlock is generally in good health, which is amazing when you consider that he’s been living on the streets for so long. He’s a healthy weight, looks very well and it’s fantastic to see him back at home after such a long time away.
“Sherlock’s case reinforces the importance of microchipping pets and making sure that the address and contact details registered against them are up to date. Without a microchip, it’s highly unlikely that Sherlock would have ever been reunited with his owner after all this time.”