An eight month old kitten with a life-threatening heart condition has tugged at the heart strings of the Helen Woodward Animal Center adoption department, and will soon be available to take home and warm your heart as well. Although his diagnosis threatens a life expectancy with a maximum of only four years, the loving domestic short-haired boy is wooing every staff member he comes in contact with in hopes of finding his forever home. The young feline’s affectionate nature has earned him the name Valentine, and Center workers are hoping this Feb. 14th will be a special one indeed.

Surrendered by an over-capacity rescue facility in the Los Angeles area, Valentine arrived with all the characteristics a potential adopter could hope to find. His handsome face and sweet devoted purrs immediately gained him a new family. But something was wrong. A trip to the local veterinarian revealed a heart murmur and, unable to afford specialized medical care, Valentine’s family returned him to Helen Woodward Animal Center.

Helen Woodward Animal Center veterinary staff quickly took action diagnosing Valentine’s condition as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.This condition forces his heart to work extremely hard and will eventually cause it to thicken. Without treatment, Valentine probably would not live to see his first birthday but with medication Center veterinarian Dr. Stephanie Oba predicts a prognosis of three to four years. “He is a happy and loving cat,” stated Oba. “We want those years to be the best years he can have.”

The generosity of such special adopters is just one of the reasons Helen Woodward Animal Center launched its I REMEMBER website. With twelve other programs dedicated to the bond between humans and animals, Center President Mike Arms felt it was time to remember the final stages of this bond as well. In addition to the candle lighting gallery, the site is getting set to introduce Dr. Wendy Khentigan and Dr. Vogelsang, both of whom specialize in the emotional phases of pet illness and pet loss. Upcoming expansion of the program promises grief counseling blogs penned by the two doctors as well as pet grief resource recommendations and an upcoming on-line live chat for those struggling with pet grief issues.

In the meantime, however, Valentine will be available for adoption on Feb. 14th and has years of adoration to offer the perfect caring family. Although he will require medication twice daily and follow-up ultrasounds every six months, the devoted kitten is bursting with love to give and a heart set on a forever home of his very own.

For more information on Helen Woodward Animal Center or for inquiries regarding adopting Valentine, please contact: 858-756-4117 ext. 1, go to or stop by at 6461 El Apajo Road in Rancho Santa Fe.  For more information on I REMEMBER, go to