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Melissa Mathieson

Title: Certificate IV in veterinary nursing
Position: Senior Nurse

Degree in microbiology with zoology – first class honours with animal behaviour. My thesis examined lyrebirds and the songs that they replicate to attract females. My mentor and I were at the cutting edge of the subject and we made a discovery about their behaviour that way previously unknown. However, tragically my mentor died during Black Saturday and the work was never finished – but, despite that, it was an amazing experience.

I think I was always destined to work with animals and have loved them for as long as I can remember. My dad worked for Parks Victoria and he would often bring animals home for us to take care of, including – koalas, echidnas, seabirds, possums, even a seal. I have always been a cat person and even loved them before I could talk. When I was very young I used to point at cats and try and imitate their sounds – because I didn’t have any words to describe them.

Before I went to university, I volunteered at the RSPCA in cat quarantine. It was hard work and a big eye opener, but it was also very rewarding, and I loved it. I was desperate for all the cats to pass the test and go to loving homes and would spend lots of time trying to help them to open up.
My brother told me about the first ever cat only clinic in Melbourne and told me that I should put my resume in, even though they weren’t advertising a job. Thankfully I did, they called, and I was hired soon after. I loved it from the moment I stepped through the door and haven’t left after 15 (not sure on dates) wonderful years!

My goal with every single cat that I meet is to calmly approach them and try to make them comfortable. I understand it’s hard to be in a different environment especially at a veterinary clinic. I believe that every cat deserves to be given the time and space to trust you – obviously, that won’t happen instantly, so we need to be patient and understand that each cat is different and needs to be approached accordingly,  but always with love and kindness.I have two cats – Isobelle (Issy) is a sassy pants. She is adorable, loving, smart and sweet – yet if she doesn’t get her way, she will give you a death stare that makes you want to give in to her. She has a dominant personality and unfortunately Dimity (my other cat) is forced to take a back seat. When she claims something whether it’s toys, beds, people she means it and no one can deter her, not even me! She loves toys and often brings them to my feet as I’m watching TV with a cute, bird-like chirp.

I have fostered many cats since getting Issy but there was another special girl Dimity (Dimmy). She was found when she was 10 months old and was absolutely terrified of everything! I knew she needed someone special to look after her as she was so timid. But she used to walk into the room that I was in and start purring. I found a home for her and cried for several nights. Then the family contacted me and said that she was so scared, and they had two dogs and another cat, and she just hid in a corner all the time. At that moment, I knew that I was meant to have her and welcomed her back into my home. She is the sweetest, but most scared cat you will ever meet. It takes her a long time to trust someone but when she does, she loves you with all her heart. Unfortunately, she isn’t the brightest girl, but I love her anyway. All she wants is pats and love. She tries to get it from Issy but unfortunately Issy will not have it- that doesn’t stop Dimmy from trying though and even if she gets a tap from Issy she continues to try, and head butts her daily.You can pat Dimmy for hours and she never gets tired of it. However, because she is in such bliss, she often forgets to swallow and drools until you stop. If you stop patting her, she will give you a tap on your hand to let you know she doesn’t want you to stop. My cats mean the absolute world to me. I could not imagine my life without a furry footstep behind me. My two girls are so different, yet I wouldn’t change them for the world. My girls and I have been through so much and I couldn’t imagine my life without them. They make me smile and laugh every day.

I love the simple pleasures in life like picnics, walks, the forest, a good book, coffee, movies, and the winter months when I can curl up with a blanket and my girls.

Meet my cats

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