Mary Eve Normandin, of Quebec, with Fania, a 10-month-old sphinx.
TC, a 7-month-old Maine coon, pawed at a glittery cat toy between showings at the Lucas County Recreation Center on Sunday, the last day of this year’s Toledo International Cat Show.
It was the first time he and Gisele Duplessis, his owner and breeder, had been to Ohio, though Ms. Duplessis has been showing Maine coons at cat shows across the country for 10 years.
“He’s behaving, and he’s having fun,” Ms. Duplessis said, waiving the cat toy in front of TC. “That’s the best part.”
TC, of Massachusetts, was one of nearly 500 cats to be judged at the annual three-day competition. There are categories for pedigree and household cats and kittens, and each cat is evaluated and ranked by all 18 judges.
Household cats are those which aren’t purebred. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t stiff competition in their divisions.
“We hold them in just as high of esteem as what we hold our pedigrees,” said Heather Pedersen, rescue coordinator for the Toledo show and its parent organization, Glass CiTICAts.
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She added that 90 percent of the people who entered purebred cats into the show started with rescue animals. For Ms. Duplessis, fostering motherless cats for adoption is how she fell in love with the animals and eventually began breeding and showing Maine coons.
A therapist by trade, participating in cat shows is a hobby that often serves as her personal therapy, she said.
“When I’m bringing my kitten up to the ring, I don’t worry about anything else except how fluffy my kitten is,” she said.
Judge Adriana Kajon, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, shows how friendly and calm Louie is. Louie, a six month-old kitten, was one of the adoptable cats and kittens brought by DeeDee's Feline Angels and Friends of Fremont, Ohio.
Nancy Schuman and Alice Billman, friends from the Cleveland area, both breed and show Thai cats. They enjoy the competition and camaraderie, but what’s more important to them is that cat shows provide a venue for the pair to teach the public about their favorite breed.
Both have imported cats from Thailand to breed the felines they show.
“We’re trying to preserve the native breed,” Ms. Billman said. “It’s education. People don’t know that we are preserving the original Siamese that we now call Thai.”
Thai cats were only recently accepted for championship by the International Cat Association, in May 2010, the year Ms. Billman began attending the Toledo show. But Ms. Schuman has been showing Thai cats since the early 2000s. Vinny, her 11-year-old, has been competing since he was a kitten.
“He’s one that actually loves to show, which is why he’s still showing at 11 years old,” she said. “Most of them show for a few years and then retire.”
The event also featured pet supply vendors and local felines up for adoption.
Paws and Whiskers, Maumee Valley Save-a-Pet, and Dee Dee’s Feline Angels and Friends collectively brought 40 adoptable cats to the show. By Sunday, nearly all of them had found families who want to adopt them, Ms. Pedersen said.
“We try to partner with the rescues here to help get those cats adopted,” she said. “That’s the club’s way of giving back.”
Despite the wintry, icy weather over the weekend, many locals still attended the show that attracts judges and breeders from across the globe.
West Toledo couple Brenda Patterson and Marcus Calhoun are cat lovers who have adopted six stray felines of their own. It was their first year attending the show.
“The highlights are the different breeds. It’s amazing,” Ms. Patterson said. “There’s the hairless, that one looks like a tiger. It’s the breeds I’m fascinated by, and they all have different personalities.”
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