Malibu’s Marybeth Massett, who lost her home on Harvester Road during the Woolsey Fire, was reunited with her beloved cat Java three weeks after the flames took her house—and most of her neighborhood of Malibu Park.
Massett, whose cat spent his days prowling the neighborhood and evenings inside with his family, continued to refill his food and water bowls every few days, in the hopes he was returning for his usual feeding schedule. Eventually, Massett realized, Java was used to eating at night, and she came to the ruins of her home one night with her sister to look for the cat.
“Then I realized that I hadn’t gone up to the house at night. It was our routine. I’d call for him to come in at night. Every night for the last 11 years,” Massett wrote in a post she shared with The Malibu Times.
“I drove up there last night with my sweet sister Barbara,” Massett wrote in the post, originally published online on Dec. 2. “So dark and cold it was—a sliver of a moon. It was different too, seeing my burned-out home at night. Over the last three weeks I’ve seen it many times and I’ve gotten used to what it looks like during the day. But it was dark and the silhouette of our beautiful home cast lying on its side gave me pause. Home is where your heart is. I’ve really learned this the last few weeks. Where your family is. And Java is my family.
“As had been the routine when I returned to leave the food and water out, I went to the blue bin that had been kindly left by the Red Cross with gloves and masks and sifter and a shovel,” she continued. “I have been storing my rubber work boots in there because it’s dangerous walking across the fire wreckage—lots of glass and nails. And so I was putting my boots on and I started calling for Java. ‘Come and get your dinner! Java!’ And then we heard a little meow! My sister and I looked at each other like, ‘Oh my God, this can’t be real!’ I called again and sure enough he answered me out, ‘Meow meow!’”
Massett said her reunion with Java was “the most sacred, sweet thing [she] has ever experienced in many, many years.”
Since sharing her story, Massett said she has been overwhelmed with well-wishers—including more than 8,700 positive “reactions” and thousands more shares on Facebook.
“People are really reacting to this, I think because it’s a story about survival and perseverance and love,” Massett wrote to The Malibu Times.