Every dog has its day. But cats? They prefer to have a whole weekend.
On Saturday, July 27, and Sunday, July 28, the 20th annual Platinum Coast Cat Fanciers’ Association Cat Show Competition prowls Fort Myers. Open to the public, the show promises nonstop action for feline fans, with ongoing judging each show day and 25 different breeds competing in categories such as kitten, championship and premiership.
It’s not all posh pets, though. There’s a household pet competition each day, with top tabbies selected based on their healthiness, cleanliness and friendliness. Rescued kitties will be strutting their stuff, too, with representatives from 10 shelters across the five-county area available to share adoption information. There also will be a wide array of kitty supplies for sale and even an “Ask the Vet” booth.
If all this sounds like the cat’s meow, that’s because it is, said Charlene Campbell, a past president of the Platinum Coast Cat Fanciers.
“It’s just a fun time for everybody,” Campbell said.
The club’s first show was in Fort Myers in 1991 (although it has only been a consecutive-year show for 20 of those years). At the time, the show had an entry limit of 225 participants, and it was filled to cat capacity every year; eventually, the show’s limit grew to
315 cats, Campbell said. Initially, the show was at the Fort Myers Exhibition Hall. Now demolished, that building overlooked the Caloosahatchee River, which occasionally created some unique issues for the keen-eyed competitors.
“The cats weren’t looking at the judges,” Campbell said. “They had turned around and were watching the boats going back and forth.”
After the exhibition hall, the event moved to the Sheraton Hotel, which is also closed. One year, a kitty crisis was nearly averted when an owner lost his cat shortly before the show. Convinced the cat was somewhere in his hotel room, the owner and the hotel’s maintenance crew systematically began to search the room, even opening up the duct work, looking for the errant feline.
To help, Campbell moved furniture, including a nightstand that sat only about two inches off the floor. When she did, she revealed the missing Persian.
“I do not know how that cat got under there,” Campbell said. “It must have been flat as a pancake.”
That particular puss might have been a bit reticent to go into the show ring, but Campbell said that’s the exception, not the rule. Most pedigreed cats are quite familiar with the show routine, and relish their time in the spotlight. On show day, expect to see cats quietly waiting in cages decorated with feathers, fluffy pillows, toys and all the other accoutrements of a would-be champion.
“For them, it’s an old hat,” Campbell said. “For the most part, most of them are really outgoing cats. That’s what makes a really good show cat.”
One such cat is Sojourner, a chocolate spotted Ocicat that’s co-owned by Patty Arnold, Mike Wagner, Sue Riley and Ann Jucha. Affectionately called Sojy, the 2-year-old cat was named a 2012 grand champion, and he was also the 2012 Cat Fanciers’ Association’s 12th Best Cat.
Jucha has owned and bred Ocicats since 1993, but believes Sojy is truly something special.
“He’s got the body, he’s got the color, he’s got the spots, he’s got the contrast and he’s got the personality to boot. He’s just got the whole package,” Jucha said.
Jucha has retired from the show circuit, and Arnold shows Sojy. Part of the secret of creating a successful show cat is to start it early, Jucha said: Kittens may start showing at four months of age, and owners begin prepping them for the ring long before that. Regular baths, nail trims and constant cuddling all help to create a cat that won’t be fazed by show activity.
Don’t be surprised to see the rescued and household pets catch the spirit of the show, too, Campbell noted.
“They get bitten by the show bug, too,” she said. “It’s so cute to watch, because they just have a ball.”
As the show has matured, it has also evolved. Recently, the Cat Fanciers Association introduced a new breed, the ragamuffin, while controversy remains over the Bengal, a cat with non-domestic origins.
The Platinum Coast Cat Fanciers remain committed to promoting the interests of every cat, Campbell said. Each year, about 40 to 50 rescue cats are adopted as part of the event.
“We’re for the health and welfare of all cats,” Campbell said. “Not just pedigreed cats.”
IF YOU GO
Platinum Coast Cat Fanciers’ Association Cat Show Competition
When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 27 and Sunday, July 28
Admission: $7, adults; $5, children 5 to 12; free, children 4 and younger; $20, family of four
Information: www.flcatshows.com or call the Spectator Information Hot Line at 239-940-6975
Please note: Only cats that are registered to compete may attend the show. For the health of all, spectators may not bring their pets to the event.