Cilley said her family searched for the then-1-year-old cat, but there was no sign of Ashes. She said the family eventually came to believe she had been taken by a fox or other predator.
Cilley said she was initially confused when she recently received a phone call from a veterinarian in Longwood, Fla.
"I live in Maine. We don't have a cat in Florida," Cilley recalled telling the vet, according to an interview with Patch.
The veterinarian told Cilley the feline had a microchip from the Franklin County Animal Shelter that contained her contact information, and after receiving a description of the animal, she realized the cat must be the long-lost Ashes.
A mutual friend helped Cilley connect with Janet Williams, a former Maine resident who moved to Florida and founded the Pixel Fund and Adore Pet Rescue groups.
"They called me because I do have connections in the rescue community," Williams said. "And there's a fairly well-organized rescue network up and down the East Coast I could tap into."
The veterinarian determined Ashes had health issues including an upper respiratory infection, dental disease, some missing teeth and a scabby coat.
A GoFundMe page was started to raise funds for Ashes' veterinary care and travel costs.
Williams, who is fostering Ashes until the feline can return home, and Cilley have arranged for a Southwest Airlines employee to fly the cat home once she is cleared by the veterinarian.
Cilley said she has no clues as to how Ashes ended up so far from home.
"We have no idea," Cilley said. "Maybe somebody found her in Maine, thought she was a stray, took her in and moved to Florida, and she got out and couldn't find her way home."