It’s always heartbreaking when a pet goes missing, but it’s important to not lose hope entirely. Sometimes miracles happen, and lost pets show up months or even years after they disappeared — sometimes in the most unexpected places.
That was the case for one cat, who unexpectedly turned up 7 years after she went missing — at the complete opposite end of the country.
Denise Cilley and her family adopted their cat Ashes in 2014 when she was just a tiny kitten. The family was always careful with Ashes, not letting her out into the yard until she was older.
But sadly, on August 14, 2015 — Denise’s daughter’s 10th birthday — Ashes got out and disappeared, WFTV reported.
The loss of their beloved cat, who was not even a year old, left them devastated. They thought they’d never see the pet again. “She was so little,” Denise told Patch. “We thought a predator got her.”
Six-and-a-half years have passed since then, so it would be natural to assume the cat was gone for good. But last month, they got a call they never expected.
Denise was contacted by a vet in Florida. The vet told her that they had her cat — but Denise was confused, saying she didn’t “have a cat in Florida.”
But as unlikely as it seemed, it soon dawned on her that Ashes had been found — nearly 7 years later, on the complete opposite end of the country over 1,000 miles away. Ashes’ microchip still identified her as the owner.
“I’m like, ‘Well how old is this cat?’ ‘Pretty old.’ I’m like, ‘I’ve been missing a cat for six and a half years,’” she recalled to Local 12. “Then my daughter heard me talking on the phone and was like, ‘Is it Ashes, is she alive?’ and yes she is.”
Denise was stunned and thrilled: after all these years, she was going to see her long-lost pet again.
But there was one last hurdle: managing to get Ashes from Longwood, Florida all the way up north to her home in Chesterville, 1,400 miles away.
To make it happen, Denise was put in contact with Janet Williams, a Maine native who moved to Orlando and founded the Pixel Fund and Adore Pet Rescue, according to Patch.
She utilized a “well-organized rescue network up and down the East Coast” to get Ashes back home. An employee from Southwest Airlines agreed to fly Ashes to New Hampshire, just three hours away from Denise’s home.
Before making her big journey home, Ashes had to get a clean bill of health from the vet. Janet says Ashes had some health issues, including a respiratory infection, a “scabby coat” and several dental issues. However, she’s now recovering.
“She bounced back quickly,” Janet told Patch. “She has a good coat, a good body weight, and a good disposition.”
It’s not entirely clear what Ashes has been up to all these years, or how she made it all the way down south. It’s possible that someone assumed she was a stray and took her down to Florida.
Either way, her cross-country journey is finally reaching its end with a return home. “She apparently went out to have a great adventure and now she is ready to go home,” Janet told WFTV. “There’s literally dozens of scenarios and she’s just not telling. I don’t know how many lives she’s used up, but I hope she’s got a few more.”
For Denise and her family, it will be a welcome, long-overdue reunion with a cat who went missing so long ago. While Ashes is quite older than the kitten they had back in the day, there’s no loved lost.
“I think I’m probably going to cry,” Denise said. “It’s like a long-lost child. My baby is coming home.”
A GoFundMe page was set up to pay for Ashes’ medical expenses and her journey back to Maine. It has reached its goal with over $1,800 in donations.
The page says that Denise’s daughter Katie is “over the moon with the thought that her baby will soon be home.”
It’s a story that proves that miracles can happen when you least expect them — but more importantly, it’s a reminder to always get your pets microchipped. Microchips are what make unlikely reunions like this possible.
“Microchipping your animals is like magic because you can find them years later,” Denise told WFTV.
We’re so glad Ashes has been found after all these years, and is finally going home! What a miracle.
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