When one of Jackie’s friends shared a picture of Melvin, an incredibly handsome tabby and white cat, on Facebook in late 2017, she found herself drawn to the blind feline who was available for adoption through Best Friends LA. “I saw his goofy, sweet little face as I was scrolling down my feed and thought to myself: ‘This little guy! This is my cat,’ ” remembers Jackie.
After seeing Melvin online, Jackie was certain he was meant to be in her life, so she didn’t waste any time meeting him in person. “I went to Best Friends LA to go see him, and just fell in love with him,” says Jackie. “We had a real connection from the get-go.” While Jackie hadn’t set out to adopt a special needs cat, she was confident that she would be able to provide Melvin — who was born with micropthalmia, a congenital condition that causes people and animals to have unusually small eyes with anatomic malformations — a great home.
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However, Jackie had to convince her boyfriend Ellison to adopt Melvin, so the couple went to Best Friends LA the following week. “This was when a Best Friends’ volunteer told us that Melvin needed surgery to remove both eyes. His recurring eye infections were interfering with his quality of life,” says Jackie. “It was going to be expensive, and I wasn’t sure if I could afford it.” Concerned about the cost, Jackie left the rescue feeling extremely disappointed, but she knew she wasn’t in a position to pay for the surgery Melvin required.
Over the next few months, Jackie couldn’t stop thinking about Melvin, and she often wondered if she should have just adopted him even though she didn’t have the money to cover the cost of the operation. In February 2018, she decided to check out the rescue’s website just on the off chance that someone else hadn’t already snapped up the adorable tabby and white cat, and Jackie was surprised to learn that not only was Melvin still available, he’d already had the surgery to remove his eyes.
“I reached out to Melvin’s foster mom after finding her on Instagram,” explains Jackie. “I once again went to meet Melvin at Samantha’s apartment, and this time I thought to myself: ‘This is it, I have to adopt him.’ “
On February 2, 2018, Jackie officially adopted Melvin, and while she’d never had a cat with special needs before, she did her best to prepare for his homecoming. “I made a point to research how to care for blind cats,” says Jackie, but it still took Melvin a little while to adjust to his new home.
“He had trouble getting on and off the couch and the bed, because he wasn’t able to gauge how tall they were,” remembers Jackie. However, she and her boyfriend were willing to make some adjustments to their Los Angeles home to better accommodate Melvin, adding a few sets of pet stairs to make it easier for this handsome blind cat to get around.
It took Melvin approximately one month to work up the courage to climb the stairs to the second floor of his new home, but several months later, he’s mastered the layout of Jackie and Ellison’s apartment. “He’s memorized basically everything in our apartment, and I forget he’s blind sometimes,” says Jackie. While Melvin occasionally bumps into items his parents leave lying around, he’s an otherwise typical young cat.
“I think people don’t realize the quality of life that blind cats can have,” says Jackie. “Melvin is a very happy little dude that can do basically anything his kitty heart desires.”
Like the average feline, Melvin is obsessed with cardboard boxes, and his mom and dad are more than happy to indulge this adorable special needs cat. “He hides in them, shreds them, chews on them,” explains Jackie. “We go through a new box every month or two because he completely destroys them.”
Being blind, it’s not surprising that Melvin likes toys that make noise, especially crinkle balls made from Mylar that he enjoys tearing into tiny pieces. When he’s not playing, Melvin likes napping on his parents’ bed, taking in the smells that waft inside from an open window, and simply sitting next to Jackie and Ellison, listening intently as they talk or watch television. “Melvin is basically our son,” says Jackie. “Our fur son, I guess.”
While Jackie was smitten with Melvin from the moment she saw his face for the first time, her boyfriend Ellison — who is more of a dog lover — was a bit skeptical about adopting a cat. However, shortly after Melvin joined their family, he and Ellison formed a strong bond that has only grown over the past few months. “Now Melvin is a total daddy’s boy,” says Jackie. “I love getting photos of the two of them together; it’s just so heartwarming and sweet.”
Melvin has become such an integral part of their family, it’s almost hard to believe that Jackie and Ellison nearly missed out on the chance to adopt this special boy. Thankfully, Melvin eventually ended up in his perfect forever home with a couple that appreciates him for being the unique, one of a kind cat he is.
“Melvin’s got such a fun little personality,” says Jackie. “He’s a total goofball, and also quite sassy, but still very affectionate. He’ll be attacking your feet as you go down the stairs one minute and then giving you head smushes and making biscuits on the couch next you a minute later.”
While Melvin can’t see, it doesn’t stop him from connecting with his parents, and Jackie and Ellison are so grateful for the relationship they have with this amazing boy. “He’s like a little person — he’s very expressive, even without eyes,” says Jackie. “He means the world to us and we love him so much.”
To learn more about this handsome cat, you can follow Melvin on Instagram.