Life without cats would be, well, catastrophic. It's hard to imagine how we survived the pre-internet dark ages without Grumpy Cat, kitten GIFs, and I Can Has Cheezburger.
If you're a feline fanatic, you might wanna sit down. Come March 2014, the World Cat Congress is coming to Miami for the first (and possibly last) time ever. Basically, it's four pawsitively packed days of cat shows, cat seminars, cat parades, cat shopping, and all things cat. Meow, brace yourselves for cute overload of the kitty kind.
Undoubtedly, there are questions racing through your mind. Cat shows exist? There are breeds of cat other than "alley"? Will there be single male cat lovers at this event? Can I buy a toothbrush holder with a cat on it?
Take a breath and, uh, paws a moment. To let the cat out of the bag, we spoke with Rene Knapp, one of the show managers and an official cat judge (and breeder) in her own right.
(Wait, "professional cat judge" is a valid career? We have wasted our whole lives.)
What, exactly, does the Cat Congress entail?
Basically, it's a congress of all the different cat organizations across the world. AllCats Cat Club, a new Florida-based The International Cat Association (TICA) club, is hosting this one. "It's only been in the U.S. twice since its inception," Knapp says. "There'll be 400, 500 cats. It's an immense show, and there are going to be all kinds of things going on."
How do you judge a cat?
There are approximately 52 official breeds of cats, and each has a standard that governs everything from coat feel to eye color to paws, Knapp explains. The judges rank the cats based on the standard and then compare them to one another. That's when the claws must come out.
"There are five different classes in cat shows," she adds. These include championship (purebreds for breeding, older than 8 months); alter (purebred, spayed or neutered, older than 8 months); kitten (purebred between 4 and 8 months); household pets (spayed or neutered domestic or purebred cats without papers, older than 8 months); and household pet kittens (domestic kitties between 4 and 8 months). Whew.
Is cuteness a factor?
In the household pet categories, yes, Knapp says. There, anything goes. "That's when it's fun for us judges... Cuteness can be a factor, beauty, kindness, it can be blind, it can have one eye, three legs -- we don't care as long as it's a happy cat."
How does one become a cat judge?
It ain't easy. In fact, it takes almost as long as medical school (!) -- seven or eight years, Knapp says. She and her hubby are both judges and breeders. There's lots of training and education involved, and it doesn't end when you score the title. "We have to take continuing education, we have to take genetic seminars, we have to keep up on all new diseases, the new breeds, the new colors, and all of that type of thing."
What about rescue kitties?
Adorable adoptables have a place here too. "We're the only registry that puts the domestic in the same category as purebred cats -- same awards, same titles. We work very closely with rescues," Knapp says. "Household pet kittens we just love! Most of them are rescues looking for homes, and we give the rescues some free entries because we want to help these kittens get homes."
Can I show my amazing, brilliant, absolutely adorable three-legged, bald-headed cat named Bo?
See above. In the household pet category, anything is possible.
Can I meet the second-tallest cat in the world at this event?
That's an oddly specific question, but as a matter of fact, you can. His name is Motzie, and he's a lanky fellow. "He's going to be out in the main area," Knapp says. "His grandparents are servals, so he still has a lot of wild blood in him. He looks like a great big wildcat."
Will there be cat obstacle courses?
Why, yes! Just like a dog show, they'll have cat agility runs. CAT AGILITY RUNS.
I need a pink apron with a Swarovski-crystal-studded cat on it. Can I buy one at the event?
"We'll have tons of vendors. Every single thing you could ever think of that's for a cat or has a cat on it," Knapp says. "Cat clothes, cat jackets, cat mugs, cat plates, cat Christmas ornaments, cat furniture (for the cats), cat toys..." Meow. Just meow.
Will I ever have a chance like this again?
Probably not. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime show. The chances are it will never be back in Florida, and it won't be in the U.S. again for another six or seven years," Knapp says. Plus, you'll hate yourself if you miss a chance to check out the newest breeds. Stubby-legged Napoleon or crazy-eyed Lykoi (AKA the Werewolf Cat), anyone?
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This is the purrfect opportunity to indulge your kitty addiction. The show takes place March 7-10, 2014, at the Doubletree Miami Airport Convention Center. You can get all the details on the World Cat Congress website.
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