By Crystal Chung @crystalkchung

MEET Melissa - the friendly feline that loves to stick out her tongue for the camera

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Videographer / Director: Alina Esther
Producer: Mark Hodge, Nick Johnson
Editor: Sonia Estal

Melissa is a Scottish Fold, a breed instantly recognisable by their flattened ears, but not normally for their protruding tongues

Scottish Fold cat Melissa, who is also known as the “Einstein” cat by her 20,000 Instagram followers, has been diagnosed with a bone degenerative disorder called Osteochondrodysplasia.

The adorable feline regularly appears in photos sporting accessories; from bow ties and tiaras to wigs and flower crowns

Vets advised the quirky cat’s owner, Alina Esther, to have her put down due to costly and time consuming treatment - but instead she has become an internet sensation.

Alina, an accountant from Volgograd, Russia, became concerned after Melissa broke her leg twice in a short space of time.

Melissa's tendency to stick out her very long tongue has earned her comparisons to Albert Einstein, whose own tongue-out photo from 1951 is one of the most iconic portraits of the 20th century

The 23-year-old said: “After Melissa broke her leg, a few weeks later she had yet another fracture. The doctors diagnosed her with the degenerative disorder of the development of bone and cartilage.

Alina said: “I photograph Melissa to remind everyone that we should not despair even in the most difficult situations.”

“Many doctors advised me to have Melissa put down because the treatment was very costly and took a lot of time and effort. It was a shock for me.

“But I decided that no matter what I will try to treat her until the very end. I learned to do the injections myself.

Melissa, who has more than 20,000 followers on her dedicated Instagram page, is the same breed as Taylor Swift's beloved cats

“I photograph Melissa to remind everyone that we should not despair even in the most difficult situations.”

During the cold winter months Melissa's owner feeds homeless animals and dreams of one day building a cat shelter

Scottish Fold cats are instantly recognisable by their flattened ears, but Melissa's protruding tongue is not a typical feature of the breed.

Alina said: “Many people around the world tell me our story has resonated in their hearts.

Alina said: “When she was ill I decided to start taking pictures of her to make more memories. I didn't want to make sad pictures showing the terrifying reality but happy and fun pictures instead.”

"I try to answer all of their comments and questions on social media. Many people ask me about the disease, because they find their cats have similar symptoms and I want to try and help.”

The adorable feline regularly appears in photos sporting accessories; from bow ties and tiaras to wigs and flower crowns.

Alina's Instagram account has helped many other pet owners whose cats have the same symptoms as Melissa

Alina said: “When she was ill I decided to start taking pictures of her to make more memories. I didn't want to make sad pictures showing the terrifying reality but happy and fun pictures instead.”

To take a look at more of Melissa’s adorable pictures head to her Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/melissa_scottish/