A Mattapoisett woman who lost her home when her husband allegedly burned it down has been reunited with her beloved cat who went missing four months ago in the days following the fire, thanks to a helping hand.

“It is a pretty amazing story,” said Vanessa Gates, who was reunited with Seven on Monday thanks to the help of a young woman from Marion.

On February 2, Gates’ home was destroyed by a fire allegedly set by her husband, Jeremy Gates. According to police, it is alleged that Gates set a mattress on fire in the Brandt Island Road house while his wife and fifth-grade son were inside. While mother and son escaped unharmed, Gates was arrested and charged with attempted murder.

Marion Fire/EMS via Facebook
Marion Fire/EMS via Facebook

Vanessa Gates ended up moving temporarily to a home on Maple Avenue in Marion and brought her double-pawed, four-year-old cat Seven (along with his sister, Blaze) with her.

However, she said Seven was “spooked” by his new surroundings and ran away on February 4.

“I kept searching, posting ‘Missing’ ads with pictures and contact information,” she said. “It was so awful to think I'd never see him again or what possibly could have happened to him.”

Contributed Photo
Contributed Photo

Gates began posting on Facebook, in Marion town groups, asking if anyone had seen Seven. Folks followed along with her quest to find her beloved cat.

“(Monday) I posted on Facebook looking for live traps because a cat had been spotted several times that matched his description, from near the area he disappeared from,” she said. “After about 10 minutes, I received several messages from a few different people saying someone in the area had found a cat that matched his description and pictures.”

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It was Breigh Christopher who had posted about a found cat that had appeared in her yard.

“He was meowing loudly at my parents when they were working out in our garage, to the point we stopped what we were doing to see if he was hurt,” she said. “He made it known he needed to be fed. He was very friendly and upfront about what he wanted. He snuggled right up to me and was so affectionate the minute I went to him.”

Contributed Photo
Contributed Photo

Because she had seen a fisher in her yard coming home late from work the night before, Christopher decided to take the cat in while trying to find his owner.

“I went to my neighbors and asked around and finally decided to post in Marion Matters,” she said.

That led other people in the Facebook group to point Gates in her direction.

“Purely out of some type of miracle they had him in their garage, so I decided to head there right then with treats, a blanket, canned food and a dish,” Gates said. “Once I walked through the door of that garage, he looked at me and I looked into his eyes, which are a beautiful aqua color, and I could tell he recognized me and I definitely recognized him.”

Gates was able to get Seven into a pet carrier and bring him home. Even though he was gone for over four months, Gates said nothing has changed.

“He’s the same lovable, sweet, attention-seeking, food-loving cat, that is also very vocal and always has been,” she said. “He has been by my side ever since I brought him home yesterday.”

Contributed Photo
Contributed Photo

It’s a welcome relief for Gates, who has multiple health issues – including one exacerbated by stress – to have Seven back in her arms.

“We’re back in Mattapoisett, living in a fifth-wheel camper in the driveway of what’s left of the shell of the house,” she said. “My husband is in jail, we’re trying to make ends meet and barely getting by.”

There is a GoFundMe that was set up to help the family, and Gates is hoping to find funds to build an outdoor cat enclosure for Seven and Blaze “so we never have to go through this nightmare again,” she said.

“This would ease my mind and allow them to be safe and outside together,” she said.

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