Katie Cilley of Chesterville holds Ashes the cat at Portland International Jetport Wednesday, Feb. 9. Also pictured are Rhonda Williams who brought the cat to Maine from Florida and Denise Cilley at right. Ashes went missing seven years ago and was located because of a microchip. Submitted photo

CHESTERVILLE — Missing for seven years, Ashes the cat is once again home.

“Everybody’s good,” Denise Cilley said by phone Thursday, Feb. 10. “She arrived home safely, is eating. She slept with my daughter last night.”

Cilley isn’t sure if Ashes remembers the family dog, but said Ashes didn’t react to it. The family has nine other cats and Ashes only hissed at one of them, she said.

Katie Cilley holds Ashes on Wednesday evening, Feb. 9. The feline was found in Florida seven years after she went missing from her home in Chesterville. Thomas Neubelt photo

“She came [to Portland] on Frontier Airlines about ten after four yesterday,” Cilley said. “My daughter and I met her there. She came out of her carrier, my daughter was talking to her and when she picked her up the cat almost hugged her.”

Ashes didn’t make a peep on the flight, Cilley said. “She didn’t like the flash when the photographer came,” she noted. “It scared her. Other than that she’s been perfect.”

Cilley speculated the light, the click of the camera may have reminded Ashes of bad experiences during the time she was missing.


Ashes had been adopted from the Franklin County Animal Shelter in Farmington. She had a microchip implanted under her skin while there.

Denise Cilley holds Ashes the cat Wednesday night, Feb. 9, at her home in Chesterville, nearly seven years after the cat went missing. Thomas Neubelt photo

Ashes went missing seven years ago on daughter Katie’s 10th birthday. The family searched for weeks but feared the worst when she wasn’t found.

Last month, Ashes was found by a young couple who took her to a veterinarian. The veterinarian’s office in Longwood, Florida, called Cilley saying a cat with a microchip registered to her had been found. Cilley confirmed it was her spayed female gray tabby.

“Microchips are important,” Cilley said. “Ashes wouldn’t have been found without it.”

A friend of Denise Cilley who spends half the year in Maine and half in Florida connected her to Janet Williams of Orlando who works in animal welfare. After speaking with Cilley, Williams agreed to get Ashes at the vet’s office and care for her, get a health certificate for interstate travel, make flight arrangements to Maine and set up a GoFundMe page to help with expenses. An airline stewardess offered to accompany Ashes on the flight to Maine on her day off.

Janet Williams of Orlando, Florida, is seen with Ashes the cat Wednesday, Feb. 9. Ashes went missing from her Chesterville home seven years ago. Williams cared for Ashes until she could return to Maine. Submitted photo

“She was vaccinated, got a health certificate for interstate travel in Florida, was good to go,” Cilley said.

“[The GoFundMe page] raised about double what was needed,” Cilley said. “Half of any left over will go to the Franklin County Animal Shelter, half to Paws — an animal shelter in Calais, my hometown.”

Cilley is thankful to Janet Williams and Rhonda Williams for their help in getting Ashes home. (Cilley is not sure if the two women are related).

Cilley encourages pet owners to use microchips. Her story ended happily because of one.

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