THE CAT PACK
A weekend with the furballs at the Expo Center
BY KATIE CORNELL
Feather boas, Mardi Gras beads and other miscellaneous party supplies hang carelessly from the hundreds of cages. People stroll around, draped in Hawaiian print shirts, plastic leis and the occasional puffy painted T-shirt. Along the perimeter of the room, vendors sell goods including flashy watches, fairy figurines and some top-of-the-line cat furniture. Judging tables are set up on the opposite side of the room. An announcer’s voice bounces off the walls; echoing numbers warn the contestants that it’s showtime.
|4 month old kitten “Fuzzball” and (Exotic Male Grand Champion “Panei’s Black Tie Affair”) Cookie|
It’s 1:30 pm on August 11, the opening day of the Blue Hawaii All Breed Cat Show, sponsored by Pacific Rim Cat Fanciers and held at the Expo Center in Portland.
“Nice coat, nice tail … ” a judge says softly as he observes a Tonkinese cat which sits patiently on a small table while audience members admire it.
Neta Cox, the president of the Tonkinese Breed Association, watches the judge. Cox traveled from Clovis, Calif., to show one of her kittens. She points out all of her friends around the venue, including a breeder from Japan. “I love my cats, but the people I have met through these shows have been there for me during huge life changes,” she says. She goes on to joke about becoming allergic to cats in the past few years and telling her doctor, “The cats are non-negotiable, so fix it!”
The middle ground is complete feline frenzy. Known as the “benching area,” this is where breeders and showers primp their cats before they head to the judging ring. It is also the place where you can really understand personalities of both humans and felines from the cage décor. One cage is show-spirited with hibiscus flowers and a nice beach scene backdrop. Meanwhile, a breeder sits with his legs up on the table, gazing off into space. His feline friends are displayed in a photo collection created by a professional photographer.
At an unoccupied station sits a row of familiar looking cats. On the cage hangs a bubble sign that reads “I’m a naughty, naughty kitty.” Next to the cages stands a poster board full of pictures and newspaper clippings. Eye drops, clippers, combs and Infusium 23 “Leave-In Treatment” are scattered about the table.
A group of friendly women swarm around and start to talk about their cats, Japanese Bobtails (the winking cat statues you see at Asian restaurants). The breeder and exhibitor, Megan Antijunti from Saint Helens, frantically pulls out Obi, Peggy and Devon as their numbers are called. However, she is pleased to talk about her breed as she primps the cats, explaining how cat shows, as opposed to dog shows, are “au natural.” The cat show is a community of friends and families who want to people know about what great animals their cats are.
“This is a labor of love, devotion and dedication. You don’t make money breeding cats. I just feel strongly about this breed,” Antijunti says.
In Eugene, cat shows happen at the Lane County Fairgrounds. The McKenzie River Cat Fanciers show is scheduled for March, but that doesn’t mean people are not getting ready around here. Patty Stewart breeds Persians and other exotics in Springfield. Stewart has been involved in the cat world since 1974 and has made it into a family affair with her daughter, Michelle. Patty loves the chance to show her white cats, but she is also excited to get others involved when she can. “There have been times when there is a young, well behaved child that I let hold my show kitty at a show (breeders rarely allow this). Just seeing that child beam in glory of being allowed to hold that special show kitty makes me feel good.”
Fancy the cats? For more information go to cat fanciers website (www.cfa.org).
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