Happy Tail: Bella Mae

A few months before adopting Bella-Mae, Jaclyn was looking for a companion for her eight-year old brown tabby Scout, an affectionate cat named after the character in the novel To Kill A Mockingbird. She sometimes works long hours and wanted a friend to be able to keep him company when she was in the office.

“I read once that black cats are less likely to get adopted,” Jaclyn explains, “So I really wanted a black cat.” She also knew that kittens were the most sought-after by those looking to adopt cats, so she decided to adopt an older cat closer to Scout’s age. After a quick search online, Jaclyn came across Annex Cat Rescue and ended up making an appointment to meet a beautiful black cat named Bella-Mae.

Bella Mae's cute little fang

Bella-Mae had been rescued from a suburban backyard. She got her name from an Italian woman in the neighbourhood who was taking care of the local cats until ACR joined the effort. “This woman found that Bella-Mae really liked to have her fur brushed,” says Jaclyn. After a few quick visits, Bella made it to her first foster. She was very shy at first, so shy in fact that she was given the nickname “our little vampire” by her foster, Heather.

“She has the cutest little snaggletooth, makes these hilarious hissing noises, and almost exclusively came out from under the bed at night,” says Heather. Her “little vampire” phase didn’t last long; soon Bella-Mae was an active member of the household, playing with Heather’s kitten Riker and seeking out affection.

Bella Mae playing

Jaclyn met Bella-Mae at her foster home. Right off the bat, Bella-Mae seemed really sweet. “She was a really shy cat, which I kind of liked because I have a soft spot for that,” says Jaclyn. Bella-Mae was also completely at ease with Riker. A good sign. “Seeing them together made me feel like Bella could be a good fit,” says Jaclyn, “because Riker reminded me of Scout.” If Bella-Mae could handle Riker’s running around, she would well-equipped to deal with Scout’s energy.

It’s been a year since Jaclyn introduced Bella-Mae into her household. Initially, she wanted to change Bella-Mae’s name and had considered “Deanna Troi” in honour of a beloved Star Trek character. “Deanna Troi is very gentle, she’s the psychologist on Star Trek. She is beautiful and gentle, which are two qualities I associate with Bella the cat,” she explains. After the first few days passed, however, she realized that Bella was the perfect name for her, although she jokes that her sister now thinks the cat is “named after a Twilight character.”

Bella Mae

Bella and Scout took about a week to suss each other out. “I didn’t quite expect how challenging it would be at first,” she says. Jaclyn had read up on the topic, and knew to prepare a separate room so that Bella-Mae could become slowly comfortable in her new surroundings, but she escaped while Jaclyn was preparing her bed. She ended up in the living room, which is exactly where Scout was at the time.

Bella was so shy during those first few days that one of her favourite hiding spots was the drawer under the sink. Despite the initial rough patch the two cats are now thick as thieves. “They kind of remind me of me and my sister with my mom, you know? They’re just chilling with each other, and I’m kind of the third wheel,” Jaclyn laughs.

Now? A confident Bella-Mae comes right up to Jaclyn and asks for back rubs. She’s even developed a routine: “Every morning, when I wake up, Bella has this tendency to wait outside my bathroom door. Even if I try to go surreptitiously or if I’m trying to get to the kitchen she’s still kind of waiting for me by the door,” she says. And once Jaclyn is cornered, Bella goes up for her morning back rub. Foster Heather and her partner had nicknamed Bella the “perfect roommate,” and Jaclyn says she really is. “She’s my good kid, kind of thing,” she explains. Scout is high-energy has all kinds little quirks, and Bella is the responsible adult of the duo.

Jaclyn tells a story about one time Bella showed this to be true. She had a laser-pointer and Scout was going nuts over it –batting the dot and the wall. Bella walks down the hallway, sees him and Jaclyn playing with the laser pointer, and promptly cuffs Scout on the ear as if telling him to get his act together. “I tried playing with the laser pointer again, but I think at that point he was just too embarrassed. Bella is super-smart, she’s not going to be fooled by a laser-pointer,” she laughs.

Bella and Scout

“She and Scout have a way of signaling when they want affection, and when it’s the other one’s turn,” Jaclyn explains. “They’re sharing me, but they can also decide when they don’t want me around and they just want to hang out with each other!” she jokes.

Bella and Scout act like siblings, which has been a pleasant surprise for Jaclyn. “I didn’t quite expect Bella to be this affectionate when I first got her — because she was so scared of being touched and so scared of humans — but she’s super affectionate towards me. I think she just takes some time to get to know people, but once she knows you, then she wants a lot of love,” she says.

–Jessica Pellerin

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