The cat somehow made her way from her home in Maine all the way to Florida. Now, she's reuniting with her family.
missing cat of seven years reunited and sitting on chair in the back yard
Credit: Denise Cilley

It was a little mystifying last month when Denise Cilley received a call from a Florida veterinarian informing her they'd found her lost cat

The Chesterville, Maine, resident hadn't lost a cat, and she certainly hadn't lost one some 1,400 miles away in Longwood, Fla. She wondered if they had the wrong number. Then the vet described the feline in question: a gray tabby who, according to her microchip, was adopted from the Franklin County Animal Shelter.

"Oh my goodness, it's Ashes," Cilley tells Daily Paws of her realization.

Yup, the young cat with a squeaky meow who'd escaped Cilley's home in August 2015—on her daughter Katie's 10th birthday no less—had somehow made it all the way down to Florida. She was scheduled to return to her original home Wednesday afternoon after a successful fundraising effort paid for some of her vet bills.

At first, Cilley wondered if it would be easier to find Ashes a new home in Florida, but she decided, "No, I want my baby back."

Cilley adopted Ashes as a kitten in 2014, and just under a year later she disappeared. She'd accompanied her brother, a black, panther-like cat named Rex, outside. He came back while she didn't. Cilley and her daughter were incredibly saddened. 

missing cat sitting in front of hamster cage
Young Ashes before she went missing.
| Credit: Denise Cilley

The family searched the surrounding area—exactly what you're supposed to do—for weeks but turned up nothing. They figured a predator, maybe a fisher or fox, had gotten her, Cilley says. They grieved.

Then, about six-and-a-half years later, Cilley gets the phone call. Ashes, now missing a tooth, was in Florida. Who knows how she got down there. 

"Has she been in Florida six months or six years?" Cilley wonders. 

All she knows is the couple who found Ashes had seen her in their area for about six months before catching her in January. They fostered her for awhile and reported back that she still has her squeaky meow and likes to curl up on a good nap. Now, she's up to date on her vaccines and was set to fly home Wednesday, arriving at the Portland, Maine, airport at 4:30 p.m. via Frontier Airlines. 

Cilley has bought kitten food, Ashes' preference, for her homecoming while Katie knitted the cat a crocheted toy that can be filled with catnip. Cilley has nine other cats—including the now-senior Rex—so Ashes will likely be sequestered for several days so she can again get used to her home.  

Beside her rescuers, the MVP of this story is Ashes' microchip. Cilley encouraged everyone, even indoor cat owners, to get their cats chipped and keep the information updated. You never know when your cat might get out—or when and where they might be found. 

"[It's] good Plan B," Cilley says. 

The GoFundMe for Ashes smashed its goal, so Cilley plans to donate the rest to the Franklin County Animal Shelter and PAWS, a shelter in her hometown of Calais, to help the shelters' microchipping efforts.