When Alina Esther was a little girl, all she ever dreamed of was owning a cat.
“I wanted it so much that I came up with the name of my cat several years before she was even born,” Esther told iHeartCats.com. “When I was about 10, my grandmother gave me a photo album, the cover of which was an amazing cat with ‘hanging’ ears.”
Esther knew right then that her cat would be named Melissa, and she would have folded ears.
Fast forward to 2010, and Esther’s sister’s cat had kittens – two boys and a girl. The little girl was feisty…and had folded ears.
“I’m sure you can already guess who I’m talking about,” Esther said while telling her story.
That little folded-ear girl kitten became Melissa.
Like all Scottish Folds, Melissa has a personality that just doesn’t stop – not to mention a face that would put Puss ‘N’ Boots to shame.
Esther said, “I have noticed Melissa sticking her tongue out when she was a few weeks old. I really was surprised and tried to take a picture because I thought that I could never catch such moment. How wrong I was! She was very playful and cute as a button.”
She even nicknamed her “the Einstein Cat” because Einstein is known for sticking his tongue out at the camera too. But it was soon apparent that Melissa was not like other cats.
“The first misfortune happened when she was six months old,” Esther said. “She was playing on the floor with the bag, jumped on it, and then suddenly hissed and ran away. I didn’t understand what had happened, so I ran after her and found that she was lame on one leg. Medical examination showed it was a broken bone.”
Just two months later, Melissa suffered another broken bone, on another leg.
A few weeks after that, she had a third break. The vets told Esther that Melissa had a degenerative disorder in the development of bone and cartilage (Osteochondrodyslapsia), which is common in Scottish Folds.
The vets recommended immediate euthanasia.
Esther said NO.
“Many vets advised me to euthanize the cat because the treatment was very costly and took a lot of time and effort. It was a shock for me. How could I euthanize an animal that I had wanted for so long, just because the treatment was expensive and it took a long time?”
Instead, Esther went from vet to vet, trying to find one that would treat Melissa, instead of recommending putting her to sleep.
In her words: I shed tears when I saw how Melissa looked at me with hope, desperately escaping from doctors, injections and pills. She didn’t understand that we were trying to help her. [Melissa isn’t big on being touched by others] She just wanted to live. The fourth fracture was the most difficult. There was a shift of bones. Then her legs went numb. Again the doctors gave recommendations for euthanasia because they said she will die soon. Some days she was lying and not moving at all. And when she tried to roll over, she mewed, because it was painful. But Esther did not give up on her best friend. She keeps switching vets, whenever they stop helping her, and even learned to give injections to Melissa herself due to Melissa’s attitude with strangers.
I am beautiful from any angle!🐱👅🐾 A photo posted by Melissa Einstein (@melissa_scottish) on
And through it all – the tears, the pain, the sleepless night filled with worry, Esther has kept her spirits up by photographing Melissa as much as she can, to help spread a message of hope.
“I want to use Melissa’s imperfection as something positive,” Esther explains. “I want everyone to know that we should not despair even in the most difficult situations like terrible disease.”
And even though her hands are full with Melissa, Esther still finds time to help other animals in need.
“I often feed homeless animals, and in the winter cold give them my old warm jackets. But unfortunately I can’t save all the animals alone. My dream is to build a shelter called ‘Melissa’ for homeless animals in our city, where they can receive veterinary care and food.”
While Melissa does not like strangers poking her with needles, she enjoys Esther’s attention and photoshoots, keeping calm through all the outfits.
When not getting her picture taken, Melissa enjoys boxes and the sofa where she sleeps – just like any other cat.
Keep up the amazing work Alina. We wish you and Melissa all the best.