Cool Cats by the Dozens
East of Eden Cat Fanciers Show brings chichi breeds and standout household felines to fairgrounds.
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Look around at all the LOL cats – those ubiquitous and goofy feline images with funny text – or hang around on a Caturday, when cat lovers share photos through social media websites every Saturday, or search “cat” on YouTube for just a minute, or look into how many people “bread” their cats (that one’s mandatory) with pieces of toast, and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d seen it all when it comes to the human obsession with the species.
The East of Eden Cat Fanciers 38th Annual Cat Show suggests that’s not necessarily the case.
When it visits the Monterey Fairgrounds on Feb. 23 and 24, it will bring with it cats and their own trading cards, cats with five-digit price tags, freaky polydactyl short-tailed pixie bobs with more than five fingers or toes and one smiling chartreux coming all the way from Japan.
All told more than 150 cat owners are gathering. One participant prepares by holding an annual bengal cat slumber party, others by decorating their cat cages with velvet curtains, gold tassels, feathers, and, in some rare cases, four-poster beds.
“There’s definitely going to be a broad range of characters,” says Pacific Grove resident Daryl Barton, president of the East of Eden club. “Some people take the event lightheartedly, others are so serious they won’t give you the time of day.”
Some attendees staff booths hoping to market everything from cat weddings to kitten showers. Some simply hope that their elaborate cages will be covered in award ribbons.
This year’s cat show includes five different judging rings (with their own judges) both Saturday and Sunday, which means five cat shows unto themselves.
Cats are separated into different divisions, many by their breed. The fancypedigree divisions include furry felines with distinctive characteristics: ragdoll cats with their signature blue eyes; Burmese cats sporting a short-haired coat that resembles silk; chartreux cats known for a narrow muzzle that gives them a smiling appearance; seemingly earless Scottish folds; and Savannah cats whose bodies are as long as 4 feet.
Barton remembers his reaction to the first cat show that his wife Carol took him to.
“I was amazed and astonished,” he says. “I didn’t know there were so many different breeds.”
In order to be the best of each breed, the cat’s features must fit the standards of The International Cat Association (TICA), the world’s largest genetic registry of pedigreed cats. That includes each cat’s body proportions, the size of the muzzle, the length and curl of the whiskers, the firmness of their muscles and the width of their tails. Certified TICA Judges from Los Angelos, Reno, Albuquerque, Canada and Portland are flying out to see these pampered felines purr.
“Personality is not [technically] included in the standards for breeds,” explains Carol, who will also be judging at this year’s cat show. “But a cat really has to enjoy the attention. If a cat is shy, the cat’s features won’t shine out as well.”
She emphasizes how this is especially true for the household division and its not-so-pure pusses. Each cat is judged primarily on beauty, condition and show presence. It’s the division where most people start, including Carol herself.
“I started with four household cats,” she says, adding she never thought she’d get into “cat fancy,” the term used for describing the entire field of cat pageants. “But really anyone with a cat can get into cat shows.”
In addition to the judging dramatics, out of the ordinary kitty cat products will be on sale. Past vendors peddled predictable products like organic grooming services and beauty care items, cat trees and other play apparatuses, and different forms of catnip – but also outlandish elements like “Pawier,” a water additive that turns water into “nutritional cat water.”
East of Eden Cat Club aims to scratch even on expenses, while donating much of proceeds to the Animal Friends Rescue Project, SPCA for Monterey County and the Kings County’s Cat Shelter. Members of the public who want their Felix in the mix can register two to three days before the event with cats older than four months; cats more than 8 months old must be spayed/neutered. The only other real requirement, for humans and cats alike, is curiosity.
EAST OF EDEN CAT SHOW happens 10am-4pm Saturday-Sunday, Feb. 23-24, at the Salinas Room, Monterey County Fairgrounds in Monterey. $5/adult, $4/seniors and kids 12 and under. 375-0801, www.eoecf.org