More than a year ago, this cat couldn’t even open his eyes and was in a great deal of pain. He was desperate, sitting in a cage crying for some help – he was supposed to die.
Now, he’s almost unrecognizable. He looks like a different cat.
His story went viral a year ago after several publications wrote a story about his terrible case of sarcoptic mange. His eyes were swollen and sealed shut. All he could do at the Los Angeles shelter where he was being kept was whimper.
Fortunately, a kind-hearted woman heard his cries for help.
“He reached out with his little paw and made the tiniest meow,” Elaine Seamans, founder of the At-Choo Foundation, told The Dodo at the time. “It was like he was screaming without verbalizing it: ‘Please help me.’”
Despite the danger of Valentino’s contagious condition, Seamans picked him up nevertheless, just to comfort him. And her act of kindness made Valentino’s story go viral.
“When I picked him up, he put his little head on my shoulder,” Seamans said. “That was it. I had to get him out.”
She wanted to help him, so Seamans made sure to get in touch with Toby Wisneski, founder of Leave No Paws Behind, who agreed to take Valentino in and try to find him a home once he was recovered.
“There are times when it’s not an option to keep walking,” Seamans said. “You just have to stop. This was one of those times.”
Valentino did not give up. He had proven to everyone around him that he is a fighter. He got treatment for his illness and soon opened his eyes again. That’s when he discovered that he was surrounded by people who were determined to give him the happy ending he deserved.
In March last year, Valentino was strong enough to try living in a foster home.
A foster mom from Los Angeles, Tania Menjivar, had seen a video of Valentino on the Facebook page for Leave No Paws Behind — and she was hooked.
“When I saw Valentino crying in his cage in the video, I was like, I need to foster this cat,” Menjivar told The Dodo.
“Oddly enough, Menjivar had never been a cat person — she’d always preferred dogs. But several years before, she had found a senior cat in the middle of the street who was in such bad shape veterinarians said she had mere weeks left to live.
This cat, who came to be called Kitty, ended up living for five years under Menjivar’s care. “
Obviously, this dog person seemed to have a knack for taking care of needy cats.
Kitty passed away a year before Menjivar saw the video clip of Valentino crying — and she felt a similar urgency to help.
Valentino arrived at Menjivar’s residence at the end of March last year. The kind-hearted woman could not fathom the idea of releasing the adorable cat to a different owner. She knew he had to stay with her forever.
In less than two months of fostering Valentino, Menjivar decided to formally adopt him.
“Valentino is doing AMAZING today,” Frank Wisneski, VP of operations for Leave No Paws Behind, who recently visited Valentino for a photo shoot for his rescue anniversary, told The Dodo.
“He’s spoiled rotten, and a little chubby,” Menjivar said, adding he’s quite the foodie. “He wakes me up at 6 in the morning for food — we snuggle for about a half hour and then I feed him … He loves it.”
It is definitely a beautiful rescue story with an awesome ending.
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