Katie Cilley (left) holds Ashes on Wednesday evening after the feline was found in Florida seven years after she went missing from her home in Chesterville. Denise Cilley holds Ashes on the right. Thomas Neubelt photos

CHESTERVILLE — Missing for nearly seven years, Ashes the cat was reunited with her family after a flight from Florida on Wednesday night.

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

Cilley and her daughter, Katie, met their long-lost pet at the Portland International Jetport in South Portland.

“She came out of her carrier, my daughter was talking to her and when she picked her up the cat almost hugged her,” Denise Cilley said.

In August 2015, Ashes disappeared from the Cilley home where she’d lived since being adopted from the Franklin County Animal Shelter in Farmington. They searched for weeks without finding a trace of her.

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.


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.

Thanks to that microchip, Ashes is reunited with her owners, who have nine other felines and a dog.

Cilley encourages pet owners to use microchips for their pets. She said previously that she wished Ashes had a GPS tracking device so the family could find out how she got to Florida.

As for the GoFundMe page, it has  raised about double what was needed, Cilley said. “Half of any leftover will go to the Franklin County Animal Shelter, half to Paws, an animal shelter in Calais, my hometown,” she said.

Cilley is thankful to Janet Williams, who fostered Ashes and took her to the airport. She also wants to thank Rhonda Williams who flew the cat home. She is not sure if the two are related.

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