“Meet the Breeds” Drew Crowds to Cats

Tens of thousands visit event to view 41 species of cats.

Declaring an interspecies détente, cats and dogs united Oct. 16 and 17 in Manhattan for a gathering of 200 breeds — and the people who love, breed and show them.

The second annual “Meet the Breeds,” hosted by both The Cat Fanciers’ Association and the American Kennel Club, drew tens of thousands of visitors to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City.

With 41 breeds represented, the cat fancy had only about a quarter of the breeds compared to the event’s 160-canine contingent. But felines may have had the upper hand in the booth-decorating department: Cat fanciers are accustomed to decorating their set-ups at cat shows, while most dog folk just take their boiled liver and run. (And even a few canines crossed the species barrier to visit, such as the hairless Xolo spotted outside the Sphynx booth.)

True to form, this year’s cat booths did not disappoint, with the best reflecting the origins and sensibilities of the breeds they showcased. Ever elegant, the Siamese had tables tastefully draped in gold damask. In a nod to its Montana roots, the Selkirk Rex outpost had a raging Western theme, from “Wanted” posters and lassoes on the walls to hay strewn on the floor. And the demure, triple-wide Persian booth offered a timeline of the breed’s various colors.

Over at the Ocicat booth, fancier Russ Haller of Waymouth, Mass., was distributing kitty coloring books, and answering the bemused queries of passersby.

“The first question is, ‘What are they?’” he said, as an Ocicat kitten in a tropical-print harness skittered around the table. “And the second question is, ‘Are they legal in all states?’” (The answer is yes: Athough it resembles a wild cat, the Ocicat has no “wild” blood.)

At informational demonstrations, cat experts talked about the points of conformation and temperament that judges look for, and a kitty fashion show sported its fair share of sequins and lame.

But the highlight of the event was cat agility — a fully net-enclosed area with 10 obstacles. Jill Archibald of CFA Feline Agility had her hands full as cats and kittens, lured by toys and feather wands, navigated the jumps, tunnels and hoops.

To make things even more interesting, more than 120 children ran the course with a trained cat provided by Archibald. But the big winner of the weekend was “Sawyer,” a 10-month-old silver Egyptian Mau who beat another Mau, two Ocicats and a Japanese Bobtail with a time of 6.4 seconds. Now that’s a fast cat!

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