When Elaine Seamans first lays eyes on Valentino the cat, her heart breaks. The mange-ridden animal is so infected that his eyes have fused shut. But, even in the darkness of his lonely life, he can still sense the light of human love.
Seamans is the founder of the At-Choo Foundation in Toluca Lake, California. The non-profit organization rescues dogs from shelters. Often, it takes in animals with extreme medical needs that shelters simply cannot meet.
So, as part of her job, Seamans spends a lot of time in animal shelters. As a result, you’d think she’d have become accustomed to sights that most of us would find heart-breaking. However, in February 2017 the animal lover stumbled upon something that she simply couldn’t ignore.
Seamans was visiting Baldwin Park Animal Care Center when a little kitty named Valentino caught her eye. The condition the poor animal was in horrified her. The cat was suffering from a severe case of mange. As a result, the infection had bonded his eyes shut.
Sarcoptic mange often affects dogs but it remains uncommon in cats. The disease is caused by tiny mites that infest the skin and fur. Furthermore, the disease is extremely contagious. As a result, no one wanted to even touch the lonely kitty Seamans saw at the shelter.
However, it seems the poor puss was desperate for some love. “He reached out with his little paw and made the tiniest meow,” Seamans later told The Dodo. “It was like he was screaming without verbalizing it: ‘Please help me.’” So, Seamans decided she would.
Seamans carefully opened Valentino’s cage and reached out to the cat. She opted against wearing any form of protection and instead treated the animal with respect and dignity. “It killed me to see him in that condition, knowing how defeated he must have felt,” Seamans told Love Meow.
Seamans lifted Valentino to her chest and pressed him against her. As she held the cat in a warm embrace, he rested his little head on her shoulder. Seamans had finally given him the compassion he had gone without for so long.
“This is one of the sweetest cats I’ve ever met. When I saw him in medical at Baldwin Park shelter he stole my heart,” Seamans revealed to Love Meow. She knew she had to do something to help. So, she contacted her friend Toby Wisneski from Leave No Paws Behind.
Leave No Paws Behind is a non-profit organization that rescues animals before finding them foster homes. They specialize in older animals, or animals with special medical needs. Therefore, it was the perfect charity to help Valentino.
And, from her very first phone call with Seamans, Wisneski was ready to help. “When I was talking to Elaine on the phone and she let me hear his little meow, I said, ‘That’s it,’” she told The Dodo. “I could hear him. That sealed the deal.”
So, Wisneski picked Valentino up and whisked him straight to a veterinary clinic. And although Valentino’s mange had left him temporarily blind, he seemed to know help was on its way. “He couldn’t move and he couldn’t see. But God love him, he’s a fighter,” Wisneski told The Dodo.
Vets found that Valentino was suffering from mange, dehydration and was in a degree of pain. He was also severely malnourished and infected. On top of everything, the animal was filthy, and his crusty fur was covered in muck.
But, aside from this, vets discovered that Valentino was in very good health. “His prognosis is excellent and once he gets through this, he’s going to have a long life ahead of him,” Wisneski revealed to The Dodo.
Doctors placed Valentino in quarantine while they awaited the results of some tests. Vets who were monitoring the cat were pleased to see that he was eating and drinking. Furthermore, his pain medication had begun to kick in, and he was no longer in discomfort.
Valentino would need prolonged medical care to treat his mange. But, after just one day at the veterinary clinic, the cute cat began to come out of his shell. He was even able to muster up the energy to purr and snuggle into his bed.
And even though he couldn’t see, Valentino was able to put all of his trust in people. “He’s so loving,” Wisneski added. “You can tell he is very grateful. He will purr for them and try to rub up against [veterinary staff]. He knows he is safe.”
Slowly but surely, Valentino’s infection cleared up, and his eyes started to open. Then, after a few days he finally revealed his big, beautiful, green eyes. The grateful feline was finally able to look into the faces of his rescuers.
Soon Valentino will be able to leave the hospital. But he’ll never be forgotten. “Valentino is so loving and so sweet and he has captured the hearts of the entire staff at The Pet Doctors of Sherman Oaks,” a Leave No Paws Behind spokesperson told Love Meow.
“He has a long way to go, however. Each new day brings small improvements,” the statement continued. So, when Valentino has fully recovered, he will go up for adoption through Leave No Paws Behind. And at his forever home, he’ll hopefully find the one medicine he’s needed all along – love.