Tracy Dietlin, our CV Weekly Publisher, along with her husband Phil Lacombe, CV Weekly Nightlife Editor, are huge animal lovers. This couple has a very interesting rescue story of their own. It is often said that animals “adopt” their owners. Many pet owners find their animals as homeless strays, whether it’s a lost dog on the freeway or a stray cat left behind when a neighbor moves. Without intent or planning, these pairings often last for the animal’s lifetime, and enthusiastic owners claim it was meant to be!

One night five years ago, two beautiful cats appeared at Tracy and Phil’s backdoor, hungry and seeking refuge. The couple fed and watered the animals, and observed from their behavior that the female Calico they named Scamp was feral. Scamp would eat her meal and then scurry away, not wanting to be petted. The black cat they named Nostradamus or “Nosti” was people friendly and had clearly taken the wilder cat under her wing. Bonds are often formed in the wild that might not otherwise happen, and by sticking together the two cats increased their chances of survival.

Meanwhile, Scamp went into heat, drawing the attention and affection of a couple of local tom cats. Tracy and Phil tried to catch the elusive Scamp to no avail, and soon Scamp delivered 5 lovely kittens that became additions to the backyard brood. When the kittens were 3 weeks old, mama Scamp ceremoniously dropped them at the back door. Tracy set up a box for the kittens on the porch. Soon she began fearing for their safety, and decided to bring them inside. A veterinary technician friend finally captured Scamp, but in the confines of the home Scamp began ignoring her offspring.

Tracy and Phil became cat parents, assuming bottle feeding and joyfully watched the jostling group of kittens grow. Trish at Animal Samaritans helped them get low cost shots and neutering. A home was found for two kittens together, Scully and Ebony. The other three kittens, Ginger, Slash and Pepper, became members of the Dietlin-Lacombe household. Tracy describes how the three little ones learned to bond with their 11-year-old Persian cat, Buttercup, “The group eventually meshed together in cat harmony, teaching us to be patient while the animals work things out between them.” When Tracy and Phil moved, the neighbor behind them took in Scamp and Nosti, keeping this special bonded pair together.

Last Spring brought tragedy to the cat family when Ginger and Slash suddenly passed away, three weeks apart, quite possibly due to a pre-existing liver condition. It is believed Pepper had a different father and thus escaped this genetic fate. It’s not unusual for a female feral cat to mate with more than one male when in heat. Months later, Tracy reports how much Pepper still misses his siblings. He watches for them coming down the hallway when it’s time for treats. When the names “Ginger” and “Slash” are mentioned, Pepper runs to find them, so now Phil and Tracy whisper their names in quiet tones. Animals experience a wide range of emotions and that includes grieving for a departed companion animal.

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Tracy explains her affinity for our feline friends, “I am one of those crazy cat ladies you hear about. I wasn’t going to let that group of kittens die. We fell in love with this group of cats. I’ve been a cat person since I was 3 years old, and love their independent personalities”.

Cats are relatively easy to care for pets, and they make wonderful companions for both families and retired seniors. Our three public shelters are overflowing right now with wonderful cats and kittens seeking homes. Contact the Coachella Valley Animal Campus in Thousand Palms at (760) 343-3644. Indio Animal Control can be reached at (760) 391-4135. If you are in Palm Springs, contact the Palm Springs shelter at (760) 416-5719. Enjoy the holidays with a warm furry addition to your home.

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