Our Proxy-Child

Life with a Tuxedo Cat.

I’ve cared for cats my whole life, whether they were inside, outside or somewhere in-between. There has always been a little ball of fluff in our household. Not until my children became adults, did I notice how important a hairy companion could be. After the death of our Maine-Coon, of 15 years, I vowed I would never own another cat. Raskle was the perfect cat for a growing family, docile, lazy and loving. Raskle had passed on and the children moved out. Years later, we caught cat fever again.

My husband received a phone call about two years ago from a family friend, we will call him Jeff. Jeff was distraught over his pet issues at home. An owner of a dog, two cats, and a couple of birds, his household was in pet chaos. The Tuxedo cat was fighting with the other pets. Resized_20170523_152021She wasn’t assimilating well into her new environment. He jokingly asked if we wanted her. He was desperate to remedy this problem. The offer piqued my interest as I have always loved cats. I thought how nice it would be to have furry companionship in the house again.

The first four months were touch-and-go. The adjustment period gave us concerns. Mel was feisty, aggressive and moody. It took a lot of attention and positive reinforcement to calm her down. Over stimulation was not our friend. Her dilated pupils were a warning that a beating was about to commence. After many scratches and claw marks, we knew when to back off. Over time her moodiness subsided and she understood the word, no. Each day was an improvement. She even let me cut her claws, a miracle in its self.
I’ve heard many people claim that pets have intuition. I believe this to be true. Mel has the uncanny ability to sense when visitors don’t like cats. On occasion, a family friend would come for a visit. Mel would approach him and aggressively attempt to set her boundary with him. Once he left the house with six scratches from the attack. It happened so quickly we didn’t have time to stop her. Other visitors have had free-reign of the house with no incidence. It’s like she reads their mind.

Lifestyles change, and so did the life of Mel. We traveled across the country in a motor home and Mel rode with us. We didn’t know how she would take the change, but remarkably she became the best travel kitty.  She didn’t like the heat of the southeast, however, she did make a two thousand mile journey unscathed. 20170708_083921
Back at the home base, she became an outside cat for about two months. I believe she had cabin fever and needed to escape the confines of the camper. We were sure she would run away, which broke my husband’s heart, but she didn’t. It was comical to watch her chase the birds, squirrels, and rabbits. She even left us the offerings of dead birds. Mel never left our side and was always eager to jump back in the camper for her daily petting.

20171110_194941Recently, we ditched the camper for a permanent home. Once again, another change for Mel. Thinking that she would bolt out the door the first chance she got when we brought her home, she took to the house like a Queen. It was as though she never adventured out-doors. She is a remarkable cat.

I would never have thought a cat could adjust so easily to her environment and still remain loyal. She surprised us both. Her love and affection continue daily. Her meows, purrs, and kisses let us know she understands she is loved. She has become our proxy-child.


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