|Born March 15, 2001 (according to vet’s approximation of date of birth)
Passed August 17, 2008
|ValentIn Luis Fernando (nickname "Vale") was assigned a birthdate of March 15, 2001 by the Palo Alto Humane Society. Vale and his brother kitten were born to a real "backyard breeder" who had two adult Siamese, male and female living in their yard. Both kittens arrived at the society's shelter for cats in May 2001 after having been rescued by county animal control services. Neighbors of the cats' "owners" were alarmed by the treatment both kittens were receiving at the hands of the owners' children. It was feared that the kittens were being tortured.|
|Vale arrived one day before his brother, and his piercing cries kept the whole household (cats and humans) as well as neighbors near the shelter awake all night long. He did not stop crying until his brother arrived the next day. Both babies were terribly frightened and suffering from an upper respiratory infection as well as intestinal distress. Swift veterinary intervention and continued care brought both kittens back to health.|
|When I met Vale and his brother in late July 2001, they were still very frightened and could not be trusted to be outside a caged environment. While his brother did not seem to mind human intervention, Vale was clearly the more "damaged" of the two babies and definitely his brother's protector. Vale lashed out at whoever tried to pet either him or his brother.|
|As time went on, Vale's brother became confident enough to wander about the shelter, but Vale still could not be trusted. Vale's brother was sent to a no-kill shelter for cats in San Francisco and was adopted. Vale remained at the Palo Alto Humane Society, and attempts to allow him to interact with the other cats backfired. Vale went into a corner and hissed and attacked even the most gentle of cats who approached him, as were attempts on the part of the volunteers to "socialize" him. (The volunteers at the shelter called Vale "Satan" behind his back, well, to his face, and behind the back of the shelter director.)|
|I was going to the shelter to help socialize kittens as well as look for a possible companion for Renata, who, at four months past Fred's death, still continued to call out and search for Fred. Nominally, I was going to adopt a female Siamese mix kitten with blue-point coloring, but I was always drawn to ValentIn and would visit him first; the female kitten, in fact, was somewhat indifferent to me. Vale came to expect my visits and would wait for me at the front of the carrier where he was housed. Even though he gradually allowed me to pet him, he was still very skittish and defensive around others, both cats and humans.|
|When I learned that Vale had a grade 3 heart murmur, it became clear to me that Vale could not survive in the shelter environment. I decided to take him home. His name was already ValentIn, in honor of Renata, and I added the "Luis Fernando" to commemorate Fred.|
|Vale joined us on August 22, 2001. For the first few days at home, Vale cowered under my desk or in a bookshelf; he was isolated from Renata in the study. When I first introduced him to Renata, he wanted to play, but Renata, at 21.5 years of age, was not too keen on chasing a baby.Vale soon learned how to get on Renata's good side.He sat quietly on the bed with her, only inches away, and they gradually became friends. I will never forget finding them together, about two weeks before Renata suddenly declined to an incurable state and had to be helped to the Bridge. Vale was hugging Renata, and she was resting her head against his soft little kitten tummy. It was obvious that they had come to love and trust each other. Renata passed away on September 29, 2001.|
|After Renata was gone, Vale seemed lonely, and I knew it would not be good for him to remain alone. In late October 2001, a friend of mine in Texas e-mailed me about an 8-week-old female Siamese slated for a shelter that very afternoon. I decided to take a chance on the kitten, sight unseen. My friend rescued Nati Panache later that very afternoon.|
|Nati joined our household on November 20, 2001. It was clear from the start that she was to be the undisputed "boss". Vale simply doted on her.|
|Vale is not a high jumper, and he is still a bit tentative in terms of exploration. However, he has truly flourished in our new environment (we recently moved from an apartment to a small house). He joins me daily at the computer, grabs at my leg to get my attention, talks to me, plays hide-and-seek, and likes to spend a few minutes on my lap, especially when I'm on the couch watching TV. He loves getting his cheek scratched and turns over on his back to let me know he wants a tummy rub. He sleeps next to me at night, often on the unoccupied pillow or just next to Nati and me.|
|He has learned to appreciate the finer things in life, such as Romaine lettuce, thanks to "sister" Nati. He continues to be protective of Nati, guarding her while she's asleep during the day. Nati sleeps under the covers, and Vale remains alert atop the covers, right next to her, with a paw on the visible "lump" that is Nati, just like he always "kept a paw" on his brother when they lived together in the carrier at the shelter.|
|Best of all, even though he still registers the grade 3 murmur, ValentIn is in good health otherwise. From a frightened, almost feral, angry kitten whose fur was spiky to the touch, ValentIn has become a very dark seal point, a handsome and silky gentle giant with a regal profile. His sweet personality and generally calm demeanor shine through. He is a loyal soul, steadfast and true to us.
|ValentIn's heart murmur decreased to a 2/6 as corroborated by the vet (June 2003). Around the same time, we learned that Siamese Rescue had given Vale one of the biggest honors possible for a rescued Siamese. ValentIn won the photo contest for Siamese Rescues 2004 calendar, and his image graces the front cover of the calendar. Way to go, Vale! A long road traveled for a once frightened little kitten who succeeded in scaring nearly everyone away. To see ValentIn's calendar photo,|
|Vale is now an "official" lap cat. He joins me in nearly all activities, although his two favorite quiet times are when I'm at the computer or watching TV. He purrs nonstop and gives me headbonks and kitty kisses. He's one of the sweetest and gentlest cats I've yet to meet.|
|(January 2005) In late January 2005, my vet tech seemed to feel that Vale looked under the weather. Following his advice, I took Vale to the vet. The vet could not find anything wrong with Vale but, after hearing that his former tech had insisted I take Vale in for a checkup, decided to run blood tests. Vale's creatinine was nearly off the charts at 12.2! We re-tested a few days later, only to get the same results. Surprisingly, Vale was not dehydrated. Subsequent ultrasound and x-rays revealed one small kidney with a large calcium deposit and one oversized cystic kidney. The vet believes that these are congenital conditions and that they are most likely responsible for the mild to moderate heart murmur. He attributes the tremendous spike in creatinine to the possible passing of a minute kidney stone, something that, unfortunately, was not detected via x-ray or ultrasound. After a change in diet, Vale's creatinine dropped to 4.1. He continues to look the picture of health and is active, playful, and extremely affectionate. Vale is a miracle kitty who is very much with us, a truly splendid being who I am so happy to have saved from a forever life in a shelter.|
|(August 23, 2008) For the next three and a half years, Vale remained happy and healthy. He lived his life to the fullest. He became even closer to Nati and me, “protecting” her when strangers visited—she hid under the covers and he kept guard duty right on top of the bed, very close to her. At other times, I would often find them cuddled together on top of the covers, with their bodies touching in such a way that they appeared to be forming a giant heart shape. It was beautiful to watch them sleeping calmly, their paws intertwined and their heads touching.|
|Vale spent most of his waking hours seated atop my computer table, sometimes dozing off and “protecting” the modem. He would often sit up at attention and watch me work. Always the perfect gentleman, he was polite, unobtrusive… until the phone rang and I would engage in conversation. Vale would then leap into my lap and purr contentedly until the call ended and I would either have to gently ask him to go back to playing “guard cat” or stroke him intermittently as I tried to continue working. He would join me at dinner and lunch in the same way. He didn’t seem to mind that I sometimes had other human company. If he liked my friends or visitors, he would not hesitate to climb into their laps, as well.|
|He loved attention! If he liked my guests, he would run to them when they called and leap high so that they could pet his head. It was Vale’s own special way of headbutting. He was sociable, yet elegant. Vale’s profile was as patrician as that of a breed Siamese, yet we never knew his background, except that he had been found in the early summer of 2001 in a rundown backyard and saved by Animal Control, along with his brother, from the taunting and possible torture of cruel children whose parents, the kittens’ possible “owner,” really did not care.
I was thankful for every day post-diagnosis Vale was with us and considered each day a blessing. I believe he felt the same way. He lived life to its fullest, basking in the sun, watching the garden through the window, following the birds and squirrels’ every movement, patting Nati at his side, talking quietly to us, scaling the heights in the kitchen, chasing his favorite bird toy. He loved it when I lifted him onto my shoulder and he would kiss my neck and purr nonstop. He came running to me whenever I called. We were all inseparable.
At the end of April 2008, blood test results revealed that Vale was in crisis—his creatinine had skyrocketed to 21.7. Amazingly, he still looked the picture of health. Our veterinarian (the same doctor who had treated Fred and Renata) was astounded that Vale, with the help of a medication to push out the “sand” (very small stones) he was excreting and subcutaneous fluids, among other treatments, all rendered at home, pulled through this crisis. However, Vale began to lose weight. But his personality never changed. He was still himself… playful, affectionate, active.
He did not stop eating or interacting with us until two days before I had to make the decision to help him cross. Vale spent most of the last two days of his life hiding behind the washing machine and then later under one of the two dressers in my bedroom. I had placed a small litter box next to the dresser. The evening of Saturday, August 16, Vale came out to attend to his needs in the litter box. It was too small for him, and he realized that he was urinating onto the floor. He lifted himself out of the box and walked the distance to his own litter box in another room. He was too polite, too good, to do anything else. I thought he was going to pull through this crisis…
He deteriorated from that point on, and I had to allow him to go peacefully and with dignity. He passed the following morning, calmed by the sedative the emergency clinic vet had given him, held in my arms. I hope I was able to comfort him through my grief.
His lifetime was way too short. But for the grace of the people who saved him at Palo Alto Humane Society, he would never have been here with us. He gave joy and love to all who knew him. I am forever grateful to have known, loved, and held him near and in my heart—he was the light of our lives. Rest in peace, my sweet Valentín. You are forever in our hearts and minds.
Please take the time to visit Valentín’s Condolence page. If you are inclined to contributing toward helping other abandoned and maltreated cats and wish to do so in remembrance of Valentín, please consider donating to the Palo Alto Humane Society (who saved Valentín’s life when he was a baby and nursed him back to health) or its CatWorks affiliate that now attends to adopting cats and kittens, or to Siamese Rescue (who in 2004 gave Vale the greatest honor a rescue Siamese could ever have as cover cat for their yearly calendar).