BY JANET McAFEE
Did you know that Tracy Dietlin and Phil Lacombe, our wonderful Publishers of the CV Weekly Magazine, are major animal lovers? They promote adoption programs to help homeless dogs and cats get wonderful new homes. The Dietlin-Lacombe household has always included a bevy of felines. On February 27, 2018, I submitted a fabulous fellow, a 4-month-old black kitten named Shaq, as an adoptable cat for the CV Weekly’s Pet Page. I did not know that Tracy and Phil were checking out each cat on the Pet Page with a serious intent to adopt.
Tracy explains, “We lost our wonderful cat Pepper after a long battle with diabetes on October 18, 2016. I was devastated, but as much as I missed him, I knew it would be awhile before we would adopt another one. And we still had Buttercup, our 17-year-old Persian who is not very sociable to humans or other felines. Last month I started looking at the cats for adoption every week on our Pet Page, in spite of still missing Pepper terribly. When I saw Shaq’s photo I knew immediately he was the one for us. He had Pepper’s golden eyes, and he was also black. From the moment I held him, I was in love with this little fellow. He was equally smitten with us, showing love and affection toward both Phil and I.”
We don’t know anything about the first 4 months of this cat’s life. Though no doubt terrifying at the time, getting caught in a cat trap turned out to be a stroke of luck for the stray black kitten. The cat trap was placed by a Loving All Animals’ cat foster parent outside her apartment complex. She delivered the adorable little fellow to Mary Ewing, director of Loving All Animals’ Whiskers & Purrs cat rescue program. Mary quickly realized he was not a feral (unsocialized) cat. In a family foster home, the animal’s lovely personality emerged. He was vetted, neutered and readied for adoption.
Mary explains that when feral unsocialized cats are trapped by volunteers, “They are evaluated by veterinarians, spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and then returned to their original outdoor location. This allows them to live out their lives, but unable to reproduce, in this animal-friendly alternative to reduce community cat populations.” Known as “Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return” (TNVR), this program protects public health and saves taxpayers money. These cats are no longer kenneled and euthanized in public shelters.
“Adopting Shaq to Tracy and Phil was a pleasure,” Mary recalls. “I got to know Tracy already because she helped me with two other strays. Knowing what a cat lover she was, and then having the opportunity to meet Phil, it became evident very quickly that Shaq was being adopted into a very loving and forever home.”
Tracy and Phil named their new cat Draven, after his raven colored coat. There are uncanny similarities between Draven and the couple’s previous cat, Pepper. Both animals do an interesting little dance when they drink out of their water bowls, tapping their left foot then their right foot. Like Pepper before him, Draven does not like to dine alone, and waits for Tracy to be nearby before eating his cat food. Like Pepper, Draven likes to watch television, with Draven favoring programs featuring other animals. Tracy reports, “Draven is so much like Pepper it’s unbelievable. He will jump up on my lap, put his paws on my chest, nuzzle my neck with his head and take a nap. He wants to be with Phil or me all the time, making sure he gives both of us an equal amount of time and affection.”
A new pet does not take the place of a pet who passes away. But a new loving pet like Draven fills the hole in one’s heart. If Pepper could send a message, he would want his humans to choose a stray, unloved cat to honor his place in their hearts and home. A playful kitty like Draven reminds us that a cat can be complete joy in a fur coat. For more information about adopting a cat, contact Mary Ewing at Loving All Animals, (760) 834-7000 or view their adoptable cats at www.lovingallanimals.org.