Yesterday was cool, crisp and gorgeous, perfect weather for entombing my $50 worth of bare-root astilbes and hyacinth bulbs in the autumn garden--but when your little girl wants to go to the CFA Cat Show in Madison Square Garden, you refuse at your peril. Actually, it's an extravaganza that, like Vegas, should be experienced by everyone at least once--well, okay, once might do it.
Picture a phantasmagoric scene that's sort of half backstage-at-Fashion-Week, half bar-scene-in-Star-Wars, with kitty litter. The people-watching is as good, if not better, than the cat-watching; I can't decide whom I love more, the people who are exactly what you expect when you picture folks who travel around the country on the show circuit with fluffy kitties, cosmetic cases, and theme-decorated cages...or the folks (like this beefy-T guy with a genuinely red neck) who are cast totally against type.
Here, because I cannot but share with you, our personal all-stars of the day:
Meet "Reddie Eddie," a redpoint Colorpoint Shorthair. People with these guys like to push their ears back to show their resemblance to Roswell aliens.
This is "Sumo," a grey Persian. His name is self-explanatory. There is more of him that wouldn't fit in the frame.
These are the scrawny freaks that draw stares at cat shows--the Nicole Richies of the cat-fancy universe...the hairless Sphynx. Some call it a breed; I call it a sad mutation. And I don't know what you call the pink-sweater thing.
A dog-person familiar with the agility and obedience trials at the Westminster Kennel Club show once asked me, "What do cats at cat shows do?" Well, mostly they sleep in overdecorated cages for hours; then they are briefly hauled to a show ring where a judge checks out the bod for perfection of breed standards, and the temperament by waving a little feather on a wand. If they go cheerfully nuts, like this Maine Coon champion, that's good. If they slump there like Kate Moss after a hard night's partying, points off. If they physically assault the judge like Foxy Brown, game over.
On the runway, don't ever look for a plus-size model to rule the day; and at the CFA, don't bet on anything but a flat-faced fluff monster to bring home top honors.* Monsieur Smiley-Face here doesn't seem to share the joy of the moment--but if you'd been sprayed with as many grooming aids as he has, you might glower too.
*Update: This year's champ was a recognizably cat-looking Japanese Bobtail!
Finally, no fashion show is complete without a bit of celebrity gossip: thus, The Ragdoll and the Rapper. Set-up: Ragdoll cats are notoriously gentle and tractable. As a kitten, this Raggie did modeling, her owner told me, and an animal agent hired them for a shoot with thug-posing rapper Fifty Cent. Something about "softening his image."
But it turned out that tough-guy Fiddy was too freaked out by the fuzzball to pose; handlers apologetically hustled kitten and owner away and paid them for the whole day. As they left, a posse member was heard to say reassuringly, "It's okay, Fiddy, the kitten's gone."