A New Hampshire couple whose cat went missing in 2013 were reunited with their pet seven years later when he was brought to an animal shelter.

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Nancy and Dave Bryant, of Rochester, said the feline, Benny, came into their home in 2011 when a friend's daughter had to find a new home for her cat because she was serving in the military.

The couple said Benny was an affectionate cat, but he wandered outside one day in 2013 and never returned.

The Bryants said they searched the neighborhood and nearby woods and even put up posters, but there was no sign of Benny.

"We just figured something got him, so we lost hope," Nancy Bryant told SeacoastOnline.

Benny was found by a member of the public earlier in December and brought to a veterinarian in Portsmouth as a stray. The veterinarian determined the cat to be in good health and sent him to the New Hampshire SPCA's shelter in Stratham.

The shelter scanned Benny for a microchip, but the information on the chip was that of his original owner, who is still in the military. Shelter staff made a few phone calls and eventually ended up in touch with the Bryants, who visited the SPCA for a reunion.

"It was amazing. They came out with him in a little carrier. I took him right out and wrapped him up in a little blanket," Nancy Bryant said.

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The couple said they don't know if Benny was on the loose for seven years or if he spent time at another home. They said he is now setting in at home -- with a new name.

"He's not Benny anymore. We just looked at him and said he's St. Nick, he's our little Christmas miracle, especially after 2020," Dave Bryant said.