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James and I have a ginormous Silver Maple in the backyard of the Fit RV headquarters.

 Silver Maple Fit RV Meet Mel


Here’s the weird thing about this tree. Every 15 years, it grows kittens.

Z Cat in Tree Fit RV Mel


No, really. I’m not kidding.

The very FIRST kitten came down from the tree before we lived here, 15 years ago. The story goes like this:

The homeowners before us, 15 years back, heard some loud meowing outside. They traced the meows to somewhere high up in the tree.

After a little coaxing, down into their arms walked Crabby.

Crabby was so adorable the entire neighborhood collectively adopted her. She went from back door to back door, charming each of the neighbors equally, and everyone spoiled her rotten.

When James bought the house 4 years later (FYI, I came along a titch later), Crabby was part of the package. She lived outside mostly over the next 11 years, and especially enjoyed luxuriating for hours each day shedding all over my deck furniture before she’d move on to one of the neighbors’ decks.

Crabby in Chair Mel Fit RV

Crabby in her favorite spot…

But she also did have access to our neighbor Bonita’s cat door, it’s not like Crabby didn’t have the OPTION to be indoors. Bonita had an open door policy. In her elderly years, Crabby did start using that cat door more and more.

Crabby Mel Amelia Fit RV

Crabby playing with “Baby” four years ago…awww

Sad part of my story, Crabby passed away this past February.

But really it shouldn’t be sad, because somehow she lived until the ripe old age of 15 as a mostly-outdoor cat (by choice) and had the hearts of multiple families in the palm of her paw. Crabby lived well, and thinking about her makes me smile.

So now here’s where things get weird.

Last week, a day or so after the Outdoor Retailer show ended, another kitten walked out of the tree.

Z Mel in Tree Fit RV Cat


Guys, I am DEAD serious. Here’s what happened:

I was in the house waiting for my daughter-in-law Anna to drop off Amelia and Eli. James had just left for Seattle, and good thing for him, because I was still annoyed over the miserable bike ride we’d just done. He was clearly trying to kill me.

So anyways, I was taking the grandkids for the morning since I didn’t have any personal training clients until later that day. I hadn’t seen the munchkins much with all the RVing we’ve done this summer, so was looking forward to some Mugga-Punky-Marshmallow time.

Amelia Eli Punky Baby Marshmallow Mel

Punky and Marshmallow, my most favorite 5 and 3 year olds on the planet…

When they pulled up in the driveway, I went out to meet them like I always do.

Remember those clown cars from the days the traveling circuses would roll through town? Watching them exit the car feels sort of like that. The car is still and silent, and then the doors open and BLAAAAARGH! It’s a whirlwind of flurry and noise and activity! As Anna and I try to shout hello over the ruckus of the Tasmanian-devils-otherwise-known-as-children running loose in the driveway, we simultaneously heard it.


And then, the kids even heard it…and actually got silent (I KNOW, WEIRD!).

We all started creeping towards the noise…where could it be coming from? Around the back of the house, we were getting warmer! Beyond the tree; NO WAIT! Not beyond it, UP IN THE TREE!

Z Cat Mel in Tree

Anna went into save-the-animal mode. It’s truly a weird phenomenon with her. She’s saved so many random animals over the years I’m sure she’s got the local wildlife rescue number memorized.

So the cat’s stuck up in the tree, we’re all down below. Here’s where things start getting a little déjà vu-ish.

After a little coaxing, down into her arms walked Mel.

Only we didn’t know he was ‘Mel’ just yet. At that point he was just a super cute not-quite-grown cat who was stuck in a tree.

You’d think a little stray kitty would be skittish, right? Not this cat. He glommed on to us, and even tolerated the smotherings of a 3 and 5 year old long enough for me to open a can of tuna.

Z Mel eating tuna Fit RV

Took this minutes after he came out of the tree that first time…

I texted a few pictures to James, who texted back, “Cute. The ringed tail reminds me of a lemur. Don’t let the cat loose in the house!!!” Ah, James. Always the thwarter-of-my-fun.

Eventually, once the tuna plate was licked clean, the cat wandered away, and I figured that was that.

So long, cute cat! Live long and prosper!

But look what I found under my deck furniture when I got home from work that evening:

Z Mel under chair


And look who was waiting at the back door when I woke up the next morning:

Z Mel at door


This courtship with me and the cat went on all week. James, who I’d been bombarding with cute cat pictures each day, starting getting suspicious. I got this text:

Ummm. Is the “cat randomly appearing out of the tree” just a metaphor for “I picked up a cat at the pound and am now making up a story about the tree to coax James into cat ownership?”

Luckily, I had Punky (who he calls “Baby”) as a witness. Since she has “tendencies” like James of obsessive cleanliness, scientific reasoning, and advanced language development, she’s the only one in our clan he trusts to tell him the whole cat truth and nothing but the cat truth. She recounted the facts of the cat’s arrival in her 5-year-old-going-on-40-year-old manner, and he’s now satisfied that everything’s on the up and up.

On the 4th day of the Stef-Cat courtship, I decided it was time for a chip check. I took the cat to a local vet, and lo, no microchip. The vet guessed the cat’s age at 4 or 5 months based on the whole still-has-baby-teeth thing.

Wait. Four or five months?!? That just stopped me in my tracks and quickly had me doing math and excitedly texting James.

My text to James: “The vet says 4/5 months! When did Crabby die? The whole tree thing, this age coincidence, IS THIS CRABBY INCARNATE?!?!?

James: “I’m home tomorrow and will know if it’s Crabby…

Really. We had this conversation. Judge if you will, but hey, I’m embracing my inner crazy-cat-lady. I have no clue what James’ excuse is.

So now, fast forward to present day. The floor of our house is littered with kitty toys and a $200 automatic litter box in our basement and we pretty much get nothing done anymore.

Z James and Mel the Cat

There’s a baby gate blocking the upstairs bedrooms with a bear alarm motion sensing camping lantern there, too, just to be sure (all James’ doing of course).

Z Mel Keep Out Fit RV

James and his War on Cat Hair. His clothes are up there, protected by a bear alarm lantern and a gate.

AND! There’s a 4 or 5 month old cat we’ve named “Mel” who’s been incessantly jumping on my keyboard and pestering me the whole time I’ve been writing his story. You know what? I’ve kinda liked it.

Z Mel Name Tag


So there you have it, James and I are officially the proud owners of a cross-eyed part-Siamese bundle of cat joy. We weren’t LOOKING to be, but that’s one of the hazards of owning a tree that grows cats. We have NO CLUE how we’ll go about RVing as cat owners, Lance isn’t designed for a cat! Should we do some cat mods? We’ve got a few weeks till our next long trip, so hopefully we can work some things out by then, and have a little more time to let this all sink in.

And maybe by then, the cat will stop setting off James’ stupid bear alarm in the middle of the night…

Mel The Fit RV Cat and Punky

Punky and Uncle Mel