CHESTERVILLE — The million dollar question that will probably never be answered is how did Ashes the cat wind up in Florida seven years after she disappeared.

Ashes has been found in Florida seven years after she went missing from her home in Chesterville. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help cover expenses to get her home. Submitted photo

“I wish she could talk,” Denise Cilley said Wednesday.

In August 2015, Ashes disappeared from the Cilley home. It was her daughter Katie’s 10th birthday and the family was distraught. They searched for weeks, but Ashes was never found and the worst was feared.

“We had seen fishers, fox in the area, thought a predator had taken her,” Cilley said. “She was less than a year old. We got her in October 2014. She liked to go out with her big cat brother.”

Both cats were from the Franklin County Animal Shelter but not related, she said.

Last month, Cilley got a call from a veterinarian’s office in Longwood, Florida, saying a cat with a microchip registered to her had been found. Cilley asked if the cat was a spayed female gray tabby. When told it was, she realized the cat was hers.


Cilley said she wishes the microchip had GPS to tell where Ashes had been.

“We’ll probably never know,” Cilley said. “I don’t think she had vet care or she would have been scanned for a microchip.”

A young couple found Ashes, took her to the vet, and fostered the cat until other arrangements were made, she said.

“My daughter said, ‘Oh my God! We have to go get her!’ but how do you get a cat from Florida to Maine,” Cilley asked. “I did a lot of Googling, but it’s expensive, with strangers.”

Luckily a friend who spends half the year in Maine, half in Florida, knew Janet Williams of Orlando and connected them. Williams works in animal welfare and agreed to help.

“I went and got the cat,” Williams said in a phone interview Wednesday. “She is with me until she can be cleared for travel. She’s got a vet appointment Friday for a health certificate.


“I reached out,” Williams said. “A flight attendant from Southwest Airlines said there was no question, she would take her.”

“I will drive to Manchester, New Hampshire, to meet the flight attendant who is bringing Ashes up on her day off,” Cilley said.

Ashes is expected to arrive over the weekend or early next week, Williams said.

Williams has set up a GoFundMe page, to cover medical expenses for the certificate, vaccinations and other possible diagnostics needed to get Ashes home. Medical care and expenses as of Wednesday were about $475. It’s estimated $600 will be needed.

“Ashes will have some health issues when she gets home,” Cilley said. “She is missing two teeth.”

Cilley and Williams emphasize the importance of microchips.

The reunification rate in Florida is only 16% because people don’t microchip their cats, Williams said.

“Ashes wouldn’t have been found without it,” Cilley said. “She was a good kitty, a good house cat. She is a very pretty cat.”

“This is such an incredible story,” Williams said.

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