Cats are natural-born escape artists, but one kitty named Ashes who went missing from her home in Maine seven years ago really did do quite the disappearing act. Fortunately, a sharp-eyed veterinarian in Florida, some 1,400 miles away from Maine identified her thanks to a microchip. Meaning a happy reunion would soon happen between Ashes and humom Denise Cilley and her human sister Katie.
Ashes made a break for it from Cilley’s home in August 2015, and she thinks it’s likely the kitten (only a year old at the time) snuck out, Denise told Patch. She turned the surrounding area upside down looking for her cat, calling her name, and talking to neighbors but returned home with a broken heart because there was no sign of her. There are wild predators where she lives, including foxes and fishers (large relatives of weasels). She lost heart, believing one of these creatures may have killed her beloved kitty.
Ashes’ Story Reminds Us Why Microchips Are Important
But then something amazing happened. On January 22, a veterinarian from the Franklin County Animal Shelter all the way down in Eastpoint Florida called Denise to let her know someone had recently brought Ashes in as a stray. Thanks to the information on her microchip, the vet was able to confirm Cilley. The contact information found on the chip was all correct, so he gave Cilley a call.
Denise was, understandably amazed and slightly incredulous about this.
“I live in Maine, we don’t have a cat in Florida,” she told the vet at the time.
So then the vet described Ashes, telling her she was a female gray tabby who’d been spayed, and that’s when she realized it really was Ashes. She still can’t help but wonder how her beloved cat made it all the way to Florida.
“We have no idea,” Denise says. “Maybe somebody found her in Maine, thought she was a stray, took her and moved to Florida, and she got out and couldn’t find her way home. I wish she could talk.”
Denise is fully aware that her soon-to-be-real reunion with Ashes is all thanks to the “miracles of microchips.”
“They’re not that expensive and can save so much heartache if your cat ever gets out,” she says.
And now, the steps are in place for Denise to be reunited with her beautiful kitty thanks to Janet Williams, another kind person who formerly lived in Maine but relocated to Florida, where she founded ADORE Pet Rescue.
“They called me because I do have connections in the rescue community,” Williams tells Patch. “And there’s a fairly well-organized rescue network up, and down the East coast I could tap into.”
But First Ashes Needs A Little TLC
A respiratory infection, dental disease, and scabby fur are just some of the problems Ashes was dealing with when good Samaritans brought her to the Franklin County Animal shelter as a stray. She has her very own GoFundMe page to raise funds for her vet care and travel costs. Fortunately, the campaign has met the $600 goal and then some and is sitting quite pretty with nearly $1900 having been raised.
Cilley is certain her years as a missing cat has been rough on her.
“I don’t think she had vet care, or she would have been scanned for a microchip,” Cilley says.
But Ashes is definitely one resilient cat. “She bounced back quickly, though,” Denise says, noting her fur, body weight, and disposition were in good shape, and that Ashes “is incredibly sweet. She wants to be brushed, which is unusual for cats, but she loves to be combed.”
As Ashes became well again, there was the question of how to bring her back home to Maine. Janet has many friends who work in the airline industry. All she needed to do was make one social media post and before she knew it one Southwest Airlines employee offered to fly the adorable gray tabby home to New England on her next day off. So Ashes will be flying to Manchester, New Hampshire, just three hours away from Denise’s home in Maine.
“So kitty still has some traveling in her future,” Denise says.
Homecoming day for Ashes is February 9, much to Denise and Katie’s excitement.
“My daughter and I are both really excited,” Denise tells me. Ashes disappeared on Katie’s birthday all those years ago, so these two will definitely have a lot of catching up to do.
Video by WPLG Local10:
As part of the celebration, the local newspaper is coming over “to take her finally home photo,” she tells me. But there’s even more good news because “Ashes is donating money to two animal shelters in Maine for microchipping.”
“We hope to get the message out how important microchipping your pet is,” Denise adds.
I love stories like this. Stories that have such happy endings. When Ashes arrives home, there will be a few changes afoot.
“Plan A: Cats stay inside. Microchips are plan B,” Denise tells me.
And Ashes will have lots of brofurs and sisfurs to welcome her, including Cocoa, Oreo, Butters, Sammy, Rex, Seven, Goose, Wally, and Timmy. Of all the kitties, Rex is the only one who was around when Ashes went missing, so this sweet girl will definitely have a lot of new kitty friends as well as labradors Kane and Midnight (who’s more gray than black now.) Both dogs were also on the scene in 2015 when Ashes disappeared.
She made it safely home and Denise and Katie eagerly met her at the airport. And now that she’s home, she’s resting in Katie’s room to give her a chance to recuperate from the jet lag, and Denise says, “we will introduce her to the other 9 cats, only one of which we had when she left for Florida.”
“Ashes is home at last. And now I can cry. Oh, AND MICROCHIP YOUR CATS!!!”
What a wonderful reunion. I’m happy that Ashes is safe. We’ll never know how rough her life was but all of that is behind her now.
It’s just not possible to emphasize enough how important microchipping your pet is. Ashes story is an ample demonstration of just how effective this is. If she hadn’t been, her life might have ended tragically as a stray.
I’ve included this happy video about the reunion below. Enjoy!