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Published: Monday, 1/10/2005

Cat fanciers aspire for purrfection at area show

Nan Moses of Akron entices her show cat with a toy. Hopscotch was one of 360 talented felines competing for prizes at the Mid Michigan Cat Fanciers Show held this weekend. Nan Moses of Akron entices her show cat with a toy. Hopscotch was one of 360 talented felines competing for prizes at the Mid Michigan Cat Fanciers Show held this weekend.

It was a cute and furry cat-eat-cat world yesterday at the Lucas County Recreation Center.

"NordicTale Snowcap," a Norwegian Forest Cat, rested quietly as his owner, Brook Cole of Cincinnati, brushed his billowing white and blue fur.

"He's been out at shows every weekend for the past four months," Ms. Cole said. "He enjoys the process and smiles and purrs, so I know he's happy."

The 7-month old feline was one of 360 entered this weekend in the Mid Michigan Cat Fanciers Show at the Lucas County Recreation Center in Maumee. The two-day event attracts cat owners from hundreds of miles away, and thousands of local cat lovers.

The competition was civil, but many cat owners still clenched their fists and closed their eyes while judges poked and examined their four-legged friends.

David White of Teaneck, N.J., was all smiles after his sphynx, "Endora," was named best short-hair champion and best all-breed champion.

Some might think short-hair is an understatement for the hairless breed.

"Right now, she is the eighth-best kitten in the country," Mr. White said.

"And she is all the things a woman doesn't want to be: bald, pot-bellied, and wrinkled."

The event, the group's 255th championship overall and 25th in Maumee, attracted about 5,000 onlookers, said Brenda Shaffer, show manager.

Ms. Shaffer noted that some exhibitors spend up to five hours a day feeding, bathing, grooming, and otherwise caring for their cats.

In addition to the competitions, the event offered visitors a chance to adopt or buy feline companions, including large purebred Maine coon cats, Oriental short-hair kittens selling for hundreds of dollars, and mixed-breed house cats available from the Wood County Humane Society for a fee.

Mary O'Brien of South Toledo said her kids love to look at the cats, and added that their 17-year-old cat just passed away.

But despite fancying pedigreed kittens, "We've always had Humane Society mutt cats at home," she said.

The Cat Fanciers' Association awards ribbons in four categories: kitten (from 4 to 8 months), premiership (adult pedigreed cats who have been spayed or neutered), championship (adult pedigreed cats who have not been spayed or neutered), and household pet (nonpedigreed cats that have been spayed or neutered).

Top winners in the premiership and championship categories accumulate points toward regional and national honors.

Winning top honors enhances a cat's pedigree, allowing it to command a higher sale price, said Gerri Miele, who was showing her American wirehair, an uncommon breed.

Ms. Miele held her breath when "Denzel" nearly bolted from a judge's hands yesterday.

"I almost had a heart attack," she said.

"You don't want a cat running all through a show hall as big as this."

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171.

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