Sharing What Has Changed My Life in a Massive Way

Posted by Melissa in Unrelated on December 28, 2011

My life has changed a lot in the last two years. Work is great, but on a personal level I have encountered something that has changed my life in a massive way. A lot of people know me in this industry. I can be fun and goofy and I love people. What people don’t know is there was a significant amount of trauma in my childhood that I dealt with every single day. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to get passed these issues, I just couldn’t. However, my life has changed in significant ways and for the better. I feel like I have a purpose and that is to help keep big cats alive, happy and well. I just wanted to share my experience.

How it Started

Two years ago I walked into a place that made me feel like I could breathe. It made me feel alive and that was the Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary. They have all kinds of animals, but it was the tigers that gave me peace. Just looking at them gave me peace, but they also made me feel really alive at the same time. I went up to an employee, Meg Ozbirn, and offered to create a new website for them for free. I said I would optimize it and do everything I could to help them succeed. They said yes and what I consider a new life began for me.

While creating the site I had to have pictures taken of many of the animals and had to have names to go with them. That meant I walked with them and took notes. They told me that all the tigers looked different and I thought they were nuts (but now I am shocked that people can’t tell them apart). I got to see the cats more and more and I was in awe of them. I found that just sitting on the floor with them made me feel better and I did a lot of it while I worked on the site.

What I Have Learned

These cats have been raised around humans their entire lives and this goes back 6-7 generations for most of them. They have never lived in the wild and they wouldn’t survive there if you released them. What shocked me is how much they wanted human interaction and how well they responded to it. The habitat owners have made a point to interact with them and make them feel loved and the cats are amazing. I own house cats and they can get mad when you go away for a few days; well the tigers do too. They come to depend on you and how amazing is that? (see video below)

Each and every cat has a completely different type of personality. No two are alike. Some are very happy to see you, many you have to work to earn their trust and some you just say hello to, but don’t get in their space. Kind of like humans. These are wild animals that can easily hurt you by accident and there is a switch in that head of theirs and anyone can turn into prey. As long as they don’t feel threatened by you,  you respect their space and act responsible all is fine.

What I Have Gained

I for the first time in my life have a peace that I didn’t have before. I am no longer hounded by unhappy memories and my stress levels are so much lower. In fact, I have dealt with TMJ for a long time and since the cats have not had to deal with as many issues because I believe my stress is lower and I am not clenching my teeth at night.

I also realized that clients were causing so much stress that I wasn’t enjoying work anymore. I said goodbye to a few of them and focused on the cats. I feel like I have been given a new life, I am happier and I am thankful for it. Words can’t express what these cats have done for me.

There is nothing like opening a door to a tiger habitat and having tigers get up excited to see you. The tiger chuffing noise is like a gift each time they greet me with it. They are a gift for just being alive.

I love them all, but I love four cats like they are my kids – Tony, Brutus, Nelson and Clarence. There was another that I was really close with and went to see everyday, but he passed away from liver cancer, but I don’t want to get into that and start getting weepy through WordPress.

What I Want You To Know

Getting involved with anything that will benefit others is a great thing. Could be helping people, associations or animals. Big cats may not be your thing, it could be dogs or birds or reptiles or any other creature. If you are drawn to a certain type of animal (I have had big cat stuff all my life) make an effort to get involved. It will help the animals and will most likely help you as well. If you have dealt with trauma in your life you may find that animals can help you let go of a lot.


I also want you to know that there are less than 3,200 tigers left in the wild. Due to poaching and morons there may not be any left when your children have children. Some say there are less than 20,000 lions and some say less than that. Leopards and Cheetahs are in danger of extinction as well. We have to fight for these big cats to stay alive. Visit sites like and National Geographic and learn how you can help.

Lastly, I have had many people tell me how upset they are that the cats are not free. Someone has to take care of them and there are habitats all around the world fighting to do that. Please don’t attack them and judge them. Help them. We can’t export them because it is against the law. Most habitats take in big cats from people that thought they wanted them as pets, from facilities that can no longer afford to care for them and from abusive situations. They can’t be free in the US, but they can have great habitats with donations.

I also want to thank the owners of the Big Cat Habitat for making my life a lot better and giving me a chance to experience some of  the most amazing and beautiful creatures on earth.

Video of Clarence

Clarence does not like it when I talk to anyone else, especially his brother. This is how mad he was after I talked to Bama, his brother. I edited out the lecture on arguing…

All photos have been taken by me and are owned by me – Melissa Fach

7 responses to “Sharing What Has Changed My Life in a Massive Way”

  1. Dali Burgado


    This is really awesome that you’ve found something you’re passionate about and relieves some stress. I’ve found singing does this for me. Though, I have not done anything like this. Photography used to be something I enjoyed. Your photos are beautiful. It’s nice to connect with something that allows you to feel free and connected with the things around us.

    Thank you for sharing your passion.

  2. KEY

    Hi,Melissa .Thank you for sharing your passion.Your photos are beautiful. Look at your post, I deeply, two months before I graduate, to students from the identity to staff the identity change, at the beginning I really don’t adapt to, the mood is very negative, just I read your article, I realize we can’t change life, but we can change the attitude towards life, thank you.

  3. Rory Truesdale

    Hi Melissa,

    This is a fantastic blog post. I spend a lot of time reading various SEO and internet marketing blogs as part of my job, but I often find them to be lacking in personality, or any kind of discernable positive message outside of advancing a corporate objective.

    Reading this has made for a really positive change, and I feel this post has a lot more value than many other blog posts I read. So, really I just wanted to comment to say thanks!

  4. Meg

    Melissa, you already had a gift and those cats didnt give it to you. Either you are or you are not an animal person , its not a learned behavior, and you my dear had this gift inside you the entire time! You just needed a place and people who could see it and recognize it. Well we all see it and appreciate it! Melissa you are a gift to the Big Cat and all of us there! Thank you for being a part of our lives! You have changed us in so many ways! Including me! Thank you for being my friend and such a good friend to all the kids at our sanctuary! You know you inspire me and I am honored to know you!!!

  5. Gabriel

    Gosh… this is freaky. I understand you 100%. The same thing happened to me a while ago, but this time not with amazing cats, but with Kids in Fiji.. (check the link in my signature)

    Melissa, I came here to read about SEO and I left with tons more.

    Thanks from Australia


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