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Published: Monday, 1/16/2006

Obstacles can t knock the shine from 284 felines

BY MEGHAN GILBERT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Dusty didn t want to jump hurdles or go through hoops, but she was OK with walking through blue-and-red tunnels.

She wouldn t listen, said Ashley Charles, 12, of Newport, Mich. She went up when she was supposed to go down, and when she was supposed to go down, she wanted to go up.

Ashley was trying to lead her 11-month-old cat yesterday afternoon through the Feline Agility Competition course, the newest event in the Mid-Michigan Cat Fanciers 26th annual show at the Lucas County Rec Center in Maumee.

The event featured three tunnels, two hoops, two hurdles, a staircase, and other obstacles.

But Ashley wasn t too frustrated when Dusty kept trying to go backward and took her time winding through the course, because most people had problems with their pets.

Ashley said none got through while she was watching, but a few did earlier, including a kitten in only 20 seconds, setting the course record. It s been very popular, said Brenda Shaffer, show manager. It s something new to watch, and it s action.

But participation in the show was down this year, with only 284 entries about 70 less than last year, Ms. Shaffer said. She said she s hoping the new obstacle course and a large variety of vendors selling toys, foods, and other pet needs will continue to draw people to the show.

Rescue organizations like the Wood County Humane Society are at the show each year. It had three adoptions Saturday, but yesterday morning was slow none going into the afternoon.

There s a lot of them that need good homes, said Renee Valtin, shelter manager. We look forward to this every year because it s one of our bigger events.

The two-day event includes judging by all eight judges, four on each day. The kittens and cats are judged by specific breed and color, and against all other cats in the show.

It also allows people to show their household pets, like Theresa Horvath of Ida, Mich., whose 3-year-old cat, Oreo, was the favorite of one judge.

We thought it d be something new and different. Everyone tells us what a great cat he is, so we thought, Why not? she said.

Liz Watson of Saginaw, Mich., who has been judging the show for 20 years, said she thought Oreo was beautiful. Something about him just caught her eye.

I loved his nice, long neck, pretty eyes, and I m partial to black cats, she admitted.

But the show was more serious for people like Merry Elizabeth Hooker of Redford, Mich., who s been breeding for eight years and trying to get Daphne, a 1-year-old British short hair, to become a grand champion.

To do that, she needs to get 200 points, which you receive when a cat beats a previous champion. Daphne has 93.

We ve picked up a few points today, she said.

Each of the eight judges determines his or her favorites by following the 100-point standard for specific breeds, and household cats are up to each person s discretion, Ms. Shaffer said.

You have eight chances to win and eight chances to lose, she said. That s what makes this different from dog shows.

Mid-Michigan Cat Fanciers Inc. has about 10 shows a year.

Contact Meghan Gilbert at: mgilbert@theblade.com or 419-724-6050.



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