Everyone has heard of dog shows; purebred canines winning ribbons for obedience tests and agility trials. They are televised on Animal Planet all the time. But has anyone heard of a cat show?
Cats, one of the most common house pets in America, have their own prestigious international shows and competitions comparable to dog shows. Every year all over the world, hundreds of breeders and their feline counterparts compete for titles and ribbons just like the dogs do, unbeknownst to most people.
On Dec. 12 and 13, the Phoenix Feline Fancy Inc. will be hosting its 17th Annual All Breed and Household Pet Cat Show at the Phoenix Convention Center. This year’s theme is “It’s Feline a Lot Like Christmas” to celebrate the holiday season.
Over 300 cats will be present and competing for titles such “Best Kitten,” “Best Cat” and “Best Household Cat.”
Though they aren’t quite as popular and well-known as dog shows, cat shows have a significant and devoted following.
Take Ahwatukee Foothills resident Teri Kennedy, for example. The self-proclaimed animal lover, vice president of Phoenix Feline Fancy Inc., show manager and Abyssinian cat breeder has been attending cat shows religiously for over a decade. In that time, her cats have won countless championship awards and she is recognized worldwide as a premiere breeder. But it is the friendly atmosphere and her love of felines that keeps her coming back, she said.
“It’s a great meeting place for friends. You meet so many new people interested in the same things as you, and you can talk about cats and pedigrees … to them without boring them,” she joked.
For those who have never been to a cat show, they are in for a surprise, said Greg Sorokin, assistant show manager.
“Most people don’t really know about all the different kinds of breeds there are, they just think all cats are the same,” he said.
Over 40 distinct breeds will be at the show, ranging from extravagant looking Persians to the lanky Siamese and everything in between. The variety of all breeds really surprises first-timers, Sorokin said.
“It’s a good place to go if you want to learn more about the breeds, or if you’re thinking about getting a cat for the first time,” he said.
The actual show is somewhat like a dog show, with individual judging, agility and “trick” events. The cats are evaluated according to the standards of the Cat Fanciers’ Association, the world’s largest registry of pedigreed cats. Qualities like muscle mass, fur glossiness, eye brightness and a healthy weight all determine what makes a winning feline. Kennedy’s Abys, as she calls them, are on a strict diet, grooming and health regime to ensure they are in top condition by the time the show arrives.
“I prepare their meals and add all the vitamins and supplements they need to keep them healthy… Many of us breeders are like veterinarians in training, we want to be totally involved in our pets,” she said.
Kennedy has four adult Abyssinians and two kittens, an ocicat, and two dogs, a Basenji and a mutt.
The cat show isn’t just for purebreds. One of the most popular events at the annual show in Phoenix is the House Hold Pet event. Cat owners from all over the Valley come and showcase their mixed-breed animals to audiences and judges. Many of the cats are from the Humane Society, so tearjerker stories with happy endings are told as part of the competition. Like an American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) commercial, the stories will make any animal lover’s heart melt.
The cat show, said Sorokin, is a great place for kids to come and makes for an entertaining family outing.
“It’s something fun and affordable for people to take their kids to, and the kids just love being around the animals so everyone’s happy,” he said.
The Queen of Clean is a cat lover but a dander hater. Linda Cobb will also be present showcasing her animal and environmental-friendly cleaning products at the event.
Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and $3 for kids ages 3 to 12. For more information, visit www.phxfeline.com.
Leslie D’Ambrosio is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a sophomore at Arizona State University.