Saturday, November 15, 2008

Madison Square Garden Cat Show

“It was like herding cats” is an expression for something that’s extremely difficult (because, as everyone knows, cats don’t take kindly to being told what to do, especially in groups.)

Imagine 212 nervous cats representing 43 breeds and an equal number of nervous cat breeders herded into Madison Square Garden last Oct. 18 and 19 for the very elite CFA- IAMs Cat Championship, which included two days of judging cats in five different rings at the same time. It culminated in the choice of the best of the Best of the Best at 5:00 on Sunday.

I was there – partly to promote my photo book “The Secret Life of Greek Cats” (check it out at but mostly to see and photograph all those exotic breeds I’d read about but never seen in the flesh, er, fur, including the popular Sphynx Cat, hairless except for the fine down on its body.

Near the door where you come in there was even a Republi-cat and a Demo-cat named Barack Obama, in patriotically decorated cages.

Everyone was admiring the Ocicats—a breed which has markings like a leopard and would make a very chic (and expensive) accessory for ladies who like to wear animal prints (not me.) Cats and kittens were being bought and sold and $600 was the lowest price I heard mentioned.

I love the exotic long-hairs with their squashed-in grouchy faces although many people don’t. The Greek cats who tell their stories in my book are certainly not pure-breds. They’re, as the real Obama would put it, “Mutts like me”, but just as attractive as the cats who walked off with the ribbons at Madison Square Garden.

Everyone there was, of course, a cat lover, including the judges who held up each furry contestant and raved about the good points of the breed. The judges held wands with tassels on the end to get the cats interested and involved. Some, but not all, of the breeders looked like their cats. If you want to see photos of the judging, let me know.

The ultimate winner on Sunday was a Blue Russian, but I didn’t make it back in time to see it. I was down in Greenwich Village looking at a crazy art show created by the guerrilla artist Banksy which was a witty but effective statement about turning animals into food, but I’ll tell you about that tomorrow.

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