Missing Maine cat found 7 years later, 1,500 miles away in Florida

Denise Cilley and her daughter adopted a cat from an animal shelter back in 2014 and decided to name the kitten Ashes — (Denise Cilley)

A lost cat will be reuniting with its owner on Wednesday.

That may sound simple, but this cat, whose owner lives in Chesterville, went missing seven years ago and turned up last week in Florida.

“I had a voicemail from a shelter in Florida that said they found my cat, and I was like, that’s weird. And I was gonna call them and say, ‘oh, you have the wrong number.’ But they called and said, ‘we found your cat,’ and I’m like, ‘well, I live in Maine and I’m not missing a cat.’ They’re like, ‘well, the microchip came back to you,’” said Denise Cilley, Ashes’ owner.

Ashes went missing in August of 2015 during Cilley’s daughter’s 10th birthday party.

“She got out and we couldn’t find her…searched the neighborhood,” said Cilley. 

Janet Williams, who is originally from Maine and migrated to Florida, has spent her entire career in animal rescue.

“They looked for her for quite a while, and they sadly concluded she probably had become prey for a predator,” said Williams.

“Her body condition was pretty poor when she was first found. A local couple had seen her as a stray and were feeding her. Her health was declining rapidly so they took her to the vet and during the course of treatment that is when she was scanned for a chip and the truth was known,” she continued.

“So they said, ‘well, the microchip came back to you.’ And I was like, ‘well, what cat is it?’ And they said the microchip also showed Franklin County Animal Shelter. I’m like, ‘well, that’s where I adopt my kittens.’ And I said, ‘is it a gray tabby?’ And they’re like, ‘yeah, a female gray tabby,’ and I’m like, ‘oh my goodness. It’s got to be Ashes. I haven’t seen her in six and a half years,’” said Cilley.

So how exactly did Ashes travel from Chesterville to Longwood, Florida, 1,448 miles away?

“I have interrogated her quite strictly and she is not talking,” said Williams.

“You know, maybe she accidentally got there because she hopped in somebody’s moving van or racecar van, or, you know, something like that. Maybe somebody found her you know, near Chesterville and kept her as a pet and moved to Florida. And then somehow she got lost. But whoever had her never registered her or checked to see if she had a microchip, so it’s just really a mystery,” said Cilley.

“It’s really an incredible story and it truly speaks to the power of a microchip,” said Williams.

“Microchips work miracles. It’s safe. It doesn’t harm the cat, you know, there’s no GPS, it’s not tracking you or your pet. You know, it’s a really quick procedure and it makes reunification possible,” said Cilley.

Ashes will be catching a flight with one of Janet’s friends on Wednesday and is scheduled to land in Portland by 4:30 p.m. where Cilley will be waiting.

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