Valentina, so named because she arrived at Home for Life® on a cold, blustery February day just before Valentine's Day, is a young female silver and gray tabby. The name suits her gentle, sweet personality, her pretty feminine appearance, and her musical meow as well.

We learned of Valentina when we received a call from a Minnesota foster-based rescue that was involved in a Trap-Neuter-Release project on a farm north of the Twin Cities. Several cats were trying to eke out a living on the farm and fending largely for themselves. Many people drive unwanted cats out to the country and dump them off, in the misguided opinion that either house cats can learn to survive on their own, or that a farmer will take them in as a barn cat. Thus are many cats abandoned to die in rural areas. Although the rescue group was worried about all of the cats on the farm, they were most concerned about a young, recently abandoned cat who didn't look like she was going to survive. She was not even a year old and obviously had no clue how to survive on her own outdoors. The older, bigger cats would chase her away from the food.

Even more worrisome was that one of her front legs was missing nearly to the shoulder. She had been caught in a trap at some point, and though she survived the injury, a bit of her leg bone was still sticking out from the muscle. It was late January and the rescue group felt certain she would not make it through the winter even if she was being fed. They asked Home for Life® to take her in immediately to save her life. It is very difficult for any animal to lose a front leg. Four-legged animals bear most of their weight on their front legs, so losing one requires significant adjustments in order to keep their balance. For cats, the loss of a front leg is even more significant because they use their front paws like hands, to wash their faces, whiskers and ears; to scoop water or food into their mouths; to catch mice or play with toys; and to climb.

Once Valentina arrived at Home for Life®, we planned to take her to the veterinarian to have the stump of her front leg treated, but within a couple weeks, the stump dried up and fell off. The area healed and did not seem to bother Valentina or cause her any pain. In fact, with good care and pampering, Valentina seemed to bounce back from her ordeal on the farm. Valentina adapted to sanctuary life with good cheer and made friends with several of the cats, and some of our gentle older dogs. She shares a special bond with a cat who arrived at the sanctuary not long after she did: Benjamin Button, who also survived a hard life as an outdoor cat in Missouri. Benjamin and Valentina seem to recognize themselves in each other, or understand each other's past. We bought Valentina a special pink collar with a metallic pink bell to signify her special role as Home for Life's very own Valentine.

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