SEASIDE Move over Toddlers and Tiaras.
This weekend, felines strutted their stuff at the 16th annual Sunkat Feline Fanciers show at the Seaside Civic and Convention Center.
One hundred and nine cats, and about 50 human owners, participated in the show, put on by the Cat Fanciers Association, the largest registry of pedigreed cats in the world.
Basically a beauty pageant for cats but without the false eye lashes and baton twirling the two days were filled with simultaneous competitions in four separate judging rings. A different judge presided over each ring and evaluated each animal against the written standards for the specific breed. The animals accumulated points toward higher awards at the end of the show, as well as regional and national titles. There were four classes: kitten for cats 4 to 8 months old, Championship Class for CFA-registered adults cats eight months or older, Premiership for CFA-Registered Cats eight months or older that has been spayed or neutered; and veteran for Registered Cats 7 years and older.
Although serious business, there were no claws or cattiness. The competitors are drawn together by a mutual passion for cats and to promote their breeders, said Dennis Ganoe, a contestant from Milwaukie who had three cats in the show.
I tell people we are like the largest traveling cocktail party in the world, but instead of alcohol we have Starbucks, said Ganoe with a laugh. We all know each other and we are all friends.
There are CFA shows every weekend around the world. Although one of the smaller shows, the Sunkat event in Seaside has become a destination event and has a loyal following in the Northwest, with participants from Colorado, Arizona and California as well as locals.
Cats competed on an agility course, enticed through obstacles by a feather toy held by their owner. There were also raffles, a silent auction and vendors selling photography, jewelry, shelters and other supplies.
As they inspected each cat, the judges described to the audience the traits they were seeking and each cat's attributes.This is our bowling ball breed, said judge Jan Rogers, holding up a Manx. It gets lots of points for not having something, in reference to the lack of tail.
Judge Gary Powell petted a handsome Maine Coon as he explained how the breed's powerful build, strong jaws for tearing apart prey and long, thick fur were perfect for surviving in the outdoors. He held up a plush Burmese and explained how mankind genetically created the breed to incorporate the desired pug nose and round head of the Persian without the undesirable long hair. His favorite was a blue (gray) and white Burmese from France named Pink Martini, owned by Linda Osburn of Portland. Cat experts have different references for colors, like blue for gray, ebony for black, red for orange, and champagne, tawny, mink platinum and lilac.
Ganoe, who has been breeding and showing for 26 years, became involved after he adopted a Karot cat. The breed originates from Thailand where it's believed to bring luck, and Ganoe said it certainly did for him because the woman he bought the cat from became his wife three years later.
Saturday morning, Ganoe stood behind the seated audience and watched intently as his LaPerm cat, Kloshe Cinnamon Bits of Dennigan (Cinnamon for short) went through one judging event. Judge John Welsh of Bakersfield, Calif., ranked Cinnamon as the best shorthair in that group.
Ganoe and his wife, Judy, run a cattery in Milwaukie where one of their breeds is an Oregon native. The LaPerm traces back to a cherry orchard in The Dalles where a woman in 1982 found a litter with a bald kitten with tabby markings on its skin. The kitten grew to develop a unique curly coat that she passed on it is offspring, all born bald. It is now one of the 40 CFA-recognized championship breeds.
For the fourth year, the Sunkats held a stand-alone household pet competition as part of the show that anyone could enter. It was an opportunity for local residents to experience competing in a show. Ganoe, a CFA international judge for the past 16 years, presided over Saturday morning's event, which he likened to a cat Idol show because the audience voted for its favorite.
Four cats from the Clatsop County Animal Shelter were entered by Clatsop Animal Assistance Inc. The all-volunteer nonprofit that helps out the shelter had several cats on display and available for adoption in the convention center lobby.
Olive, a sassy black longhair, meowed and fussed as she waited in her cage to be judged. Lillian, a blue patched tabby with mackerel stripes, sat patiently for her turn.
You're so cute, I just want to put you in my pocket, purred Ganoe as he picked up a small, round gray boy named Grayson. The shelter had originally called the kitten Tread, because he was found on top of a car tire. He was so young, he had to be bottle fed.
Each cat received a place ribbon but Ganoe struggled to choose between Lillian and Grayson for the top award. Ultimately he decided promised fulfilled trumped promise to be fulfilled and crowned Lillian.