Meshach, the stray cat who was severely burned over Christmas, has found a home with a loving family in time for Easter.
Hopping on countertops, smacking the resident pooch on the snout and snitching a dried starfish from a bowl, the orange tabby continued his assault on the heart of a Talent woman who says she fell in love with Meshach after reading about his plight in the Mail Tribune.
"I cut that picture out and put it in my pocket," said the 57-year-old woman. She asked not to be identified because the animal abuse case against the teen alleged to have burned the friendly 1-year-old cat has yet to be resolved.
"I just fell in love with him. I needed him and he needed me," she said.
Meshach's new mom visited him while he completed his recovery at Sanctuary One, a nonprofit care farm in the Applegate Valley.
The stray's journey back to health began after he arrived at the Eagle Point home of Michael and Summer Finn on Dec. 22 with painful burns on his face and under his tail. After 35 days of treatment at Talent's Best Friends Animal Hospital, Meshach was deemed well enough to transition to Sanctuary One.
Wearing a protective head collar, Meshach still had open sores and needed special treatment, said Sansa Collins, animal care manager at Sanctuary One.
Meshach continued to heal, and the collar came off more than a month ago, she said.
"He was so, so, so happy to have it off," Collins said. "He loves to rub his head against you and have you rub his itchy wounds."
That Meshach survived the attack physically, and with his good nature intact, is a miracle, said his adoptive mom.
"He's confident and friendly," she said. "He's just an amazing spirit."
Meshach's mom says his new family consists of herself, her husband, her mother and their two-year-old Labradoodle.
The dog, "who thought she was queen" until Meshach arrived, was put in her place with "one whap across the head" by the big orange cat, she said.
"Now she's polite," she said with a chuckle, as Collins let out a whoop that Meshach was purring.
Meshach, who quickly discovered the layout of his food, water and litter box, also will fill a void in her elderly mother's heart, his owner said.
"She had an orange kitty who we lost in October," she said.
But as affectionate as he is, Meshach let it be known he is young and into exploring. Some wedding glasses that were placed atop the refrigerator were soon discovered to be in harm's way as the curious cat continued to investigate his new digs.
"We need to do some more kitty proofing," she said.
Collins said Meshach's new family was selected from "a fair amount of people."
"We looked through the applications, checked references, called their vets," she said.
Collins said she is glad Meshach has this particular new home because "someone will be home with him all the time."
"He wants the attention," Collins said. "He is so social."
A $2,500 reward from the Humane Society of the United States was doubled to $5,000 by Sanctuary One in hopes of finding whoever injured the cat.
A Shady Cove teenager was arrested Friday for setting a cat on fire.
The 17-year-old male was cited for first-degree aggravated animal abuse, a class C felony, police said in a news release. Officials wouldn't comment on how they tracked down the suspect because the case is still under investigation. Police said the suspect may not have acted alone.
Meshach's owner said she can't imagine the fear, pain and suffering the cat endured during and after the attack.
"You just can't imagine the horror," she said. "I'm so glad he's with us now. He just needed love for the rest of his life."
Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or email email@example.com.