By Janet McAfee

Michelle Brewer saw kittens needing homes featured in this column of the Coachella Valley Weekly Magazine.  Her mom is Tracy Dietlin, owner and publisher of this magazine, and her stepdad is Phil Lacombe and their daughter doesn’t miss an issue. The Brewers recently lost their beloved rescue dog Renji, and the family cat Ricky was devastated along with his humans over Renji’s passing. They decided to get grief-stricken Ricky a feline companion.

It was a special family event last week when Michelle, husband Mike, and daughter Lily went to our county shelter, the Coachella Valley Animal Campus (CVAC) to adopt a special rescue kitty.  The large modern facility houses all the stray and relinquished animals from all Coachella Valley cities except for Palm Springs which operates its own shelter. There are over 50 wonderful cats there waiting for homes. When you first enter the spacious building, the cats and kittens are in the first room to your left.  Some of them are happily playing with others in a spacious play area.

This summer the stream of incoming dogs, puppies, cats, and kittens has increased.  The Brewers were overwhelmed with the number of cats and kittens, and Michelle had to take a break for a few minutes.  Something made her turn to look at a kennel behind her. “This black kitten was standing on her back legs staring at me holding her paw up towards me. Once we got to a visiting area, she ran toward me, crawled up on my shoulder and purred into my ear.  Years earlier, our once stray cat Ricky peered at us through the window of our business.  Then he crawled up on my shoulder when we let him inside.”  The kitten then wisely snuggled with Mike and Lily to seal the deal.

Michelle’s parents are avid animal lovers and rescue cat owners.  We animal lovers love creative names for our precious pets. Michelle explains her choice of the name Steve Nicks.  “I grew up with my mom listening to Fleetwood Mac and loved this lead singer. I also loved Sabrina the teenage witch who owned a black cat.  When I first saw our kitten at the shelter I thought she was cool because of her black color.”

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Tiny 3-mo-old Stevie Nicks Brewer happily journeyed to her new home.  Older brother Ricky was thrilled and greeted her with a kiss on the nose, though Stevie shyly scampered away.  Michelle reports, “The two cats are doing great together, despite their size difference as Ricky is four times larger. Ricky follows Stevie around everywhere like a parent chaperoning.  Before we got Stevie, Ricky was waking me up daily between 4am and 6am crying in grief.  He would stand on top of the keepsake box where we keep Renji’s things and howl.  Ricky’s mourning time is now over.”

Are you feeling lonely as the summer heat keeps us house bound?  Are you still feeling sad about a dog or cat that passed away?  No animal can replace the one you lost. However playful Stevie Nicks brings great joy to her home, especially for Ricky who seems madly in love.  Cats and kittens are wonderful companions.  They are low maintenance, not requiring walks outdoors in the sweltering summers.  You can take an overnight trip without arranging for a pet sitter, just leave extra food and water.

There are fabulous and friendly cats at CVAC.  Lots of precious tabbies, calicos, tuxedos, British blues, and more.  See their animals at www.rcdas.org.  The shelter has a wonderful foster program, and this is a great way to see if an animal is a good fit for your family.  Foster homes are also needed for very young kittens and puppies that require more frequent feedings than a shelter can accommodate.  Call foster coordinator Candy at (951) 358-7376 or email foster@RIVCO.org.  Visit the shelter at 72-050 Pet Land Place in Thousand Palms between the hours of 10am and 4pm Monday through Saturday.  When you see one you like, ask a staff person to take it to a visiting room for you.