A little piece of cat heaven fell to Earth in late November at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City. It was the Third Annual Meet The Breeds event presented by the American Kennel Club. Fifty kinds of cat were represented, sort of like a Feline U.N., The United Colors of Benetton of Cat-dom. You could take your pick from the British Shorthair to the Bengal to the Egyptian-derived, wrinkled Sphynx. Each cat was more lovely, strange and intriguing than the next.
One British Shorthair, Earl Grey, was a particular delight. Owned by Zina Avrutova, this big, fluffy, good-natured boy (whose breed dates back to Roman times), lived up to his mistress’s description.
“They make great family pets,” said Avrutova, “because they have a a very calm demeanor and are known to be very nonchalant.” This became clear as Earl Grey got handed to me and other admirers. Cuddled in one’s arms and coolly surveying the large, crazed Javits crowd, Lord Grey dug the scene with the calm detachment of a Zen master.
Anthony Hutcherson represented the Bengal cats, who said these gorgeous brown-and-tan-spotted cats should, ideally, look like, “they just stepped out of the jungle.” Inspired by the look of the jaguar, the Bengals are often a mix of the domestic cat and the Leopard Cat, and, according to this owner (whose pet is named “Poet”), they are “one of the most popular pedigreed cats.”
Poet also knows how to High-Five, a skill he demonstrated repeatedly to the delight of several nearby children.
A movie star was also in our midst, specifically, a Turkish Angora named Felicity. Jan Moury, her owner, told me that the gorgeous, long-haired cat had some big scenes with Cillian Murphy a few years back in the indie flick “Watching the Detectives.” Moury also explained her cat getting the gig had something to do with her incredible boldness and devil-may-care attitude.
“When she was here last year, she walked through a whole pack of dogs,” said Moury. “She just separated them, like she was a herder. This cat is fearless.”
These kitties are warm and friendly. And rather un-cat-like, they will “jump in the bath with you, if you leave the bathroom door open.”
The demonstration was a delightful mix of cats from every corner of the globe. There were plenty of Burmese cats, the Devon Rex, Norwegian Forest Cats and a riveting, naked, pink, wrinkled Sphynx.
“His name is ‘Goodtime Charlie,’” said this Egyptian cat’s owner, “because he’s lots of fun at home.” There were Cymrics and Manxes, Maine Coons and Munchkin Longhairs. With enough kids and grown-ups hugging, holding and getting their pictures taken with these cats to make it clear everyone was having a blast. Business cards were exchanged, prices asked (the Sphynxes run from $1,000-$1,300) and contacts made.
Although there were a hundred breeds of dog on the other side of the big showroom, no one seemed to care. Maybe that’s because The Cat People were out in force on this recent cold, beautiful Saturday. And they only had felines on their minds.