Chuck (charlesofcamden) wrote,

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I Know Why the Caged Cat Meows

I did something today I’d never done before – I went to a cat show. To be precise, it was the Great Lakes Area Cat Enthusiasts, Inc. International Feline Spectacular & 6th International Ragdoll Congress. I suppose I was inspired to do so from seeing the various dog shows that have been on TV in recent months (ya gotta love Uno the beagle!). While I’m sure I would have a total blast at a dog show, I am of course more of a cat person. The other thing that happened was that JB mentioned to me several weeks back that there was a cat show coming to town, so I resolved that I would be in attendance.

The venue was the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in nearby Rosemont. The L got me within a couple blocks of the place, so I was good to go.

This fellow is actually a pure-bred Bengal. His owner explained that his coloring was the result of a rare mutation. I met his brother, who was doing well in competition. That cat had the same face and shape as this one but was colored in the oranges and browns more typical of the breed. I tried without success to photograph him – he would not sit still for me AT ALL. The real reason I had to photograph this guy is that his coloring was so reminiscent of the late Tick-Tock, who may have been a pure nuisance but who was never accused of being pure bred!

Now that I have attended exactly one (1) cat show, I am completely qualified to pontificate at great length on the subject. There were a few things about it that were contrary to my uninformed expectations. First and foremost, the whole event had a dingy, redneck air about it (apologies to all my dingy redneck readers). This impression was certainly enhanced by the room we were in. Understand, the Stephens Convention Center is a huge facility. There were several events going at the same time in various parts of the place, and I’m sure there are various amenities one may opt for when booking an event. Well, whatever those amenities are, this event appears to have opted for none of them. The floor was brown, cracked concrete and the lighting was harsh and high overhead. There was a food stand at one end of the room selling bagged snacks, soda, and desperate-looking, scraggly slices of pizza. I decided I wasn’t all that hungry and kept on walking. Two of the room’s four walls were lined with vendors selling various cat-themed products (except for one jewelry seller who appeared to have wandered in from a neighborhood craft fair). None of them appeared to be doing much business and their proprietors mostly sat on metal folding chairs with vacant, bored expressions on their faces.

But here’s the important part, for me anyway: Once I got used to those elements, I was able to focus on the subject at hand – cats! There must have over a hundred of them in the room and I loved each and every one of them. The owners appeared to be mostly family groups. I have an image in my memory from today that I could not photograph, but which will stay with me – a young girl about 9 years old with long stringy blonde hair, walking unsteadily with an enormous Maine Coon in her arms. And on her shoulders. And on her face. The cat seemed well accustomed to being transported in this manner, and he rode along with great serenity and patience. Or maybe he didn’t like the looks of that brown concrete floor either so he decided to stay put.

Another image I wish I could have photographed – two women walking side-by-side carrying their respective cats. In each case, the cat and the owner looked startlingly alike. One woman had a hair-do of poofy silver-white hair. She carried a big poofy silver-white cat. The woman next to her had spiky dark brown hair – and so did her cat. When I put this description into words, it sounds as if this must have been intentional, but at the moment it happened, it seemed spontaneous and coincidental. But I don’t need to know the truth of it – that mental image is all I need.

That’s another thing that struck me about the cats there – they were almost without exception well used to the routine. They had been bred and raised to be show cats and they were trained to abide by the rules of a cat show. For example, when it was time to be judged, the judge would take the cat out of its cage, set it on a table, lift its tail, and poke and prod it this way and that. The cats would bear this without complaint. Well, if your cats are anything like mine, I don’t know too many of them that would put up with that nonsense from a stranger without bolting and finding a table to hide under. And when it was time to go back in their cages and carriers, the cats would happily do so. Hmph! If you’ve ever tried to put a cat into one of those carriers, you’ll share my amazement with these show cats!

I spoke to various exhibitors and began to realize that many, perhaps most, of them were also breeders. I have in front of me a brochure from one of the exhibitors. Her business is called Chemicoons Maine Coon Cats. As the brochure explains, the company name comes from the fact that she is a Chemistry Professor with a PhD by day. I was relieved to learn this, and that the name does not imply that her cats are on The Juice. Yeah, there’s a concept – Maine Coons on steroids!

This picture was taken after I returned home. That’s Cy enraptured with the catnip hamster doll I bought at the show, with Bun-Butt looking on jealously.

This photo was taken a couple years ago and has appeared in this journal before. It’s a stool designed and made by my father. He has produced a huge litter of them in various colors. It’s based on the general design of a doggy stool he also makes, and which his father made before him years ago. I have reposted it here because of the following photo –

I took this photo today at the cat show. This was being sold by one of the vendors for $22. While it diverges stylistically from my Dad’s design in some ways, its general size and shape are strikingly familiar! I thought family members might find this of interest.

Would I go to another cat show? Oh my yes! I was in the company of a great many of my favorite 4-pawed friends, as well as a bunch of people who probably love cats even more than I do.

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