Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

Local News

January 31, 2012

The cat’s meow

Cats converge on Cleburne Conference Center during show

From Abyssinians to sphynx to exotic short hairs, the Cleburne Conference Center found itself awash in cats Saturday and Sunday. A show sponsored by the Ozark Cat Fanciers and the Fort Worth Cat Club attracted felines and fans to Cleburne’s first cat show.

“It was a marvelous time,” FWCC President Cheryl Pedigo said. “Thank you Cleburne. Oh, we’ll definitely be back. Everyone was pleased as punch with the facility and the gracious people of Cleburne. We had a good time and look forward to a return trip.”

Which is music to the ears of Cleburne Tourism Director Carl Watson.

“All the feedback we’ve heard from vendors, judges, participants is all very positive,” Watson said. “They really liked the facilities and our town and there’s talk of possibly having another show in the summer or later this year.”

The cat show is one of several recent events Watson and other city officials hope will spread word of the Cleburne Conference Center, which was expanded and renovated about a year ago. The hope, Watson said, is to attract out-of-town events, exhibits and conferences to Cleburne.

“You never know,” Watson said. “Someone here from out of town [for the cat show] might have something else they could use the center for, or tell others who put events on about the center.”

The cat show attracted a steady amount of local residents throughout Saturday and a fair amount on Sunday, Pedigo said.

Participation from owners showing their cats was also quite good, Pedigo said.

“Total count was 140 cats entered over both days,” Pedigo said. “Shows will normally have about 225 cats, but three other cat shows were going on at the same time this weekend so we’re very pleased with the participation and turnout.

The event was an all-breed show with the cats competing in four classes. Those include championship, which are whole cats; premiership, which are fixed cats; and kitten class, which is self-explanatory. The fourth class, household pets division, is a recent addition. It allows casual owners of cats, purebred or mixed, to enter their pets in competition.

“It’s a great way for people new to [cat shows] to get their feet wet and see if this is something they want to do,” Pedigo said.

Judging involves a two-tiered process, Pedigo explained. Judges examine each group of cats individually, judging them against the standards set forth by the Cat Fancier’s Association for each particular cat’s breed. From each group, the judges pick the top 10 cats who then move on to compete further. Actually, it’s rather confusing for newcomers, which Pedigo readily admits. Cat fanciers are friendly folks, however, and more than happy to explain the mechanics of competition to novices. It’s a bit, though not exactly, like competition in dog shows sans the part where competitors and their pets walk around the arena.

There are shows for cats to exhibit agility, Pedigo said, but those are separate affairs from regular competition shows.

Judging results in awards of best cats, whereby individual cats earn points and move on to other competitions.

All that aside, the Cleburne show included a varied collection of fetching felines from the common to the fairly rare. Contestants spend a good deal of time grooming their cats for their big moment before the judges. It’s a passion, and a rather expensive one from grooming and other supplies to the cats themselves. Purebred cats, like purebred dogs, range from a couple of hundred dollars for pets to thousands for show cats and rare breeds.

“A lot of the expense is travel,” competitor Rhonda Fox said. “An eight hour drive to a show is pretty common.”

Fox traveled to Cleburne from Kansas City with her black and white bi-color Persian named Hot Toddy. Fellow cat fancier John Chapman stopped to admire Hot Toddy.

“I’ve shown cats, but don’t have any here today,” Chapman said. “But I just love hanging out so much I can’t stay away even when I’m not showing. There’s only a couple of weekends a year when there’s not a show somewhere in the U.S.”

Chapman and Fox said it’s not unusual for showers to attend 37 to 40 shows per year.

“I went to a show in Kansas City, asked what it entailed to get involved and 15 years later here I am,” Fox said.

Cleburne resident Jody Greenwood entered Mikey, her bluepoint Himalayan. Greenwood said she enjoys showing cats and added that she’s only been involved in competition for a couple of years. One space over from Greenwood, Dian Darr showed off Sparkle, her ebony silver ocicat.

“I graduated Cleburne High School, but I won’t tell you the year because that would give away my age,” Darr laughed. “I live in Colorado Springs now and I’ve been doing this 10 years. I decided when I retired that I need something to keep me busy and off the streets, and I like the ocicats because they’re an active breed and they look pretty wild.”

Only three cats entered the household cat competition, Pedigo said.

“It’s a fairly new program,” Pedigo said. “Hopefully, with a little more publicity, we’ll have more local folks enter their cats next time around.”

In addition to the cats on display, the Humane Society of North Texas had several cats available for adoption in the conference center’s lobby. Penny Lehew, HSNT offsite coordinator, pointed out one in particular, Momma Kitty.

“She’ll have been with us a year as of April 1,” Lehew said. “She came in with a litter we adopted out and she went on to foster two litters since that were not her own. So we really hope she finds the perfect home today. Lord knows she deserves it. All of them do.”

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